Monday, September 28, 2009

Positive Consequences of An Electoral Defeat after a Reform Victory

In The Health Care Blog, a widely and deservedly cited blog, futurist Joe Flower forecasts,

The way things are trending now, Obama and the Democrats will succeed in getting a reform bill – and it will cost them the Congress in 2010 and possibly the presidency in 2012. Why? Because it will be ineffective in bringing most voters and tangible benefits soon, and ineffective especially at bringing down the cost of health care.

One need look no further than the 3 year old Massachusetts experiment in universal coverage to see the ineffectiveness of Obama-type, i.e., top-down reforms, in satisfying voters and reducing costs.

According to an April 27, 2009 Cato Institute Report, “Massachusetts-like Reforms Increase Costs and Waiting Times,” Massachusetts has experienced a 46% faster health inflation rate than the rest of the nation, waiting times to see a doctor are now 7 weeks compared to 3 weeks for most of the country, and Massachusetts voters are saying, they see reduced quality by 3:1, less affordable care by 31% to 27%, and reform failure by 37% to 26%.

This is not to say Bay State reform has not succeeded in some respects It has reduced the number of uninsured to under 3% - far below the national average of 15%.
But reform has failed to lower costs, pacify voters, and has ushered in talk about health care rationing to stem the inflation tide.

If the Democrats and the President go down, it should not be interpreted as a defeat. Defeat may be a blow to the ego, but Obama will have advanced the reform debate, he will have initiated certain needed reforms, and he will have shown what works – and doesn’t work – in American Democracy and its underlying culture. We will better know the right mix of public policy and marketplace forces, and the limits of left of center governance in a right of center nation.

No comments: