03 July 2008

Leaving it all on the field

The Boston Globe reports that Teddy Kennedy, recovering from his brain tumor surgery, is quietly laying the groundwork for universal healthcare legislation. Obviously, nothing can be done until the end of our long national nightmare (200 days and counting!), but it will be vitally important to have the basic framework laid out when President Obama (please please please) takes office.

This is encouraging on a number of levels:

  • HillaryCare failed in part because of a failure to adequately involve the legislative branch in crafting the necessary compromises, and in part because of a failure to move quickly enough, when the Clinton administration still had momentum and unspent political capital. It's nice to see that they have learned from that lesson.
  • The article reports that Kennedy's effort is "designed to identify areas of common ground between Democrats and Republicans, business and labor, providers and insurers." The SEIU, AARP and the powerful small business lobby have joined in an uncommon alliance to work together, and it's nice to see this collaboration extend into the legislative arena.
  • This coalition is much more likely to propose a workable plan like Wyden's, rather than a doomed single-payer system.
  • And, given that the 111th will likely, sadly, be the last Congress for Teddy, it's nice to see that he's working to go out championing the issue he has dedicated most of his public career towards.
I'll be fascinated to see how this plays out.


  1. Do you suppose that universal health care will EVER be applied to members of Congress and their families? Shouldn't that be the first requirement of any such proposal?

  2. Something that would help would be an effort to improve efficiency of government services. The Post office and the DL Bureaus are often cited as reasons to avoid any further federalization of healthcare.

    This would, of course, require the loss of Civil Service protections for government employees, so they'd be subject to actual performance, and accountability.

    I'll hold my breath on whether the government has the fortitude to aggravate a solidly-Democratic voting block in order to further a different Dem objective.

  3. Teresa --

    Several of the Univ Health plans basically open up the FEHPB plan to all comers. The FEHBP is the plan that all civil servants, including congresscritters, enjoy, and it is publicly funded and privately administered.

    Other plans use the benefit level provided by the FEHBP as the "ground floor" of allowed benefits -- plans can exceed the benefits, if beneficiaries want to pay the higher premiums. Else, the congressional plan is the minimum standard that private plans would be allowed to offer.

    So if Univ Health comes to pass. hopefully, there will be parity between the Universal plans and the congressional plans.

  4. I hope you are right, Dr. Shadowfax. I'm enough older than you to be a lot more cynical about Congresscritters on EITHER side of the aisle. I don't trust any of them; they are mostly elitists.

    I'll never forget Newt Gingrich siding with that guy with the $90K in the freezer, (what was his name?) saying that the FBI didn't have a right to execute a search warrant on his D.C. office. That really steamed me. If the guy had just complied with a legitimate discovery motion or whatever it was, NO SEARCH OF HIS OFFICE would have been necessary. Newt showed his true colors.

    And what about Cynthia McKinney who assaulted a security officer for not recognizing her? And why should Congresscritters be allowed to bypass security screening at all? Don't you see how elitist that is?

    I don't have much hope that Congress will ever be fully subject to the same laws they pass for the rest of us.

    (OK, the name 'William Jefferson' is coming to mind. I think that's his name.)

  5. It is certainly reassuring that the mind that gave us HIPAA is planning to work his special magic on the entire U.S. healthcare system.

  6. I am surprised that you, a physician, would advocate for universal health care. That is just what we need, 6 month waits for open heart surgery or worse. Competition breeds the best, wish is why our medical care in America trumps every other country and why other countries ship their hopeless cases here. When is the last time you heard of an American flown to Canada for expert healthcare?

    A big LMAO off at the quite heroics (eyeroll) of Ted Kennedy. Yeah, he is Sooooo worried about saving lives, yet he took a life years ago and totally skated on it as well. Where was his concern for her?

    God help my beautiful country I love if Obama takes office.


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