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The Health Care Reform: Mirage or Oasis?

Armen Hareyan's picture

The New York Times this weekend took its own look at how the economy may be making it easier (note we said "easier" not "easy") for the Obama administration to tackle health care reform.

"With that sense of the battle-scarred history of health care politics, Mr. Obama began a careful campaign to frame the issue more as a pocketbook concern than a moral one," Kevin Sack wrote. "Given that four of five Americans are dissatisfied with health costs, while only 15 percent lack insurance, strategists have argued since the Clinton health care debacle of the 1990s that success would depend on persuading the vast middle of its economic self-interest."

Agreeing on broad principles is one thing; getting agreement on the details is harder; particularly, as the NYT put it, it becomes "clear whose ox will be gored." One person's waste is another person's income, and insurers, hospitals, and doctors' groups have all balked at various changes proposed at the state and federal level for decades. But times may be changing, both because of the economy and because of a deeper understanding that the system is broken.

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The question, UNC health politics expert Jonathan Oberlander told the newspaper, is "whether Mr. Obama and Mr. Daschle can harness the new urgency and marginalize the opposition that will inevitably emerge."

"The history of health reform is replete with instances of reformers believing this time it's inevitable," Mr. Oberlander said. "Those prior tipping points all turned out to be mirage."

This time, we're hoping that the mirage is really an oasis.

Reprinted under Creative Commons from The New Health Dialogue Blog.