Final Thoughts On Health Care Reform

As I’m sure as you all know by now–despite all of the right-wing sound and fury, despite all of the astroturfed protests and fauxtrage and multi-million dollar campaigns–health care reform has become the law of the land.

Reform isn’t  ideal–I would have preferred a bill with a strong public option, if not single payer.  But this was a major undertaking with a lot of competing factions that had to be placated.  In the end, it was still a very good bill that was very much worth passing, and it gives us a good basis for future reforms (and I”m hoping the absence of the right’s promised health care apocalypse will serve to undermine whatever hyperbolic claims they make about the next stage of reform).

While health care reform isn’t exactly popular, some more recent polling seems to show opposition decreasing and support increasing.  In that vein, I think that support for health care reform hit its nadir and is likely to increase over time.

Why? Because its easy to get people angry about a bill still under construction, a bill that nobody knows what it will end up looking like in the end, especially when that bill is at the forefront of everyone’s mind. But now that reform has passed and will start going into effect, it will hard for people to believe the right’s misinformation because they’ll be experiencing the benefits of reform firsthand.

Republicans worked so hard to prevent this bill from becoming law because they knew that, once enacted, it would turn out to be politically popular.  Let’s face it, covering 35 million additional Americans, reducing the deficit, eliminating practices like discrimination based on preexisting conditions all while helping middle-class individuals and families to buy better, cheaper insurance are all very good policies.  The right sought to drown those good policies in a sea of misinformation, and they almost succeeded. But now that reform has become law, it’ll become increasingly difficult for the GOP to sustain such strong opposition.

That’s why I think the oft-rumored GOP campaign to repeal health care reform is a dud–who’s going to say they want to take health care away from 35 million Americans? Who’s going to say they want to repeal a bill that reduces the deficit? Who’s going to campaign on letting insurers deny coverage because of preexisting conditions and yank people’s coverage as soon as they get seriously ill?

That’s why the Chamber of Commerce–who dumped millions upon millions of dollars in a vain attempt to stop reform–has already said they won’t back a repeal campaign. That’s why Sen. John Cornyn–head of the NRSC–has also said that Republicans won’t run on repeal, instead pledging to repeal what they consider to be the bad parts of reform.  And something tells me that saying that health care reform was good after all and that you only have some minor problems with it isn’t exactly the strongest platform to run on.

I could be wrong–lord knows I have been before.  I fully expect folks like the teabaggers–i.e. the Republican Party base–to remain adamantly opposed to health care reform, but I can’t imagine the rest of the country will join them. The right’s opposition to health care reform was based on stoking fear of a health care apocalypse that won’t come and on a concentrated, well-funded misinformation campaign.  In the absence of those–and in the presence of the immediate benefits of reform–I just don’t see support staying as low as it once was, or even where it is right now.

Health care reform is good policy, and I think that over time it will turn out to have been good politics as well.