Everyone has a take on what will happen next on health reform. Consumer Watchdog, of course, is digging out the loopholes and trying to plug them before corporate lobbyists gain the upper hand. On the other hand, some ultraprogressives are so disappointed that they’re joining hands with the "start over on a clean sheet of paper" crowd that wants only to kill reform. Looking way down the road, the Washington Post’s Ezra Klein sees a collective yawn–and that’s a good thing.
Klein, like anyone with a brain, says there’s no way to predict exactly how the reform bill will play out over the next several years. But looking at countries that have already been through decades of such reforms, he sees that it will need constant tinkering and repair–perhaps ending up like the privately provided but stiffly regulated almost-universal health care of the Netherlands.
I have two other strong beliefs about this bill: First, in 20 years, we
will be happy we passed it. It will be near to a consensus program,
though like any other program, it will need continual reform and
repair. Second, in and of itself, it will be much less noticeable in
the system than most people think. This bill could be made very
important by accelerated deterioration of the employer health-care
market, but in and of itself, most Americans will find this reform
pretty quiet once it’s up-and-running — a far cry from the debate that
got it there.
He’s not out on a limb, even in looking at the American experience. The battle in the 1960s over Medicare was nearly as ferocious, with employers warning their employees that it would destroy their jobs and conservatives calling it a Communist plot.
So Consumer Watchdog and others will have work to do for all of those 20 years, countering attacks on consumers pretending to be "reform and repair." But it’d still be great to find that in the end, a national consensus will allow most people to ignore the vicious battle that got us to where we are today.