President Clinton's secretary of labor, Robert Reich, writes about the health care overhaul crafted by President Obama and congressional Democrats:
the current bills won't offer most Americans any appreciable decline in the cost of their health insurance nor clear improvement in the efficiency or quality of the health care they receive, and those who will benefit won't see the benefits until 2014 at the earliest. All this is partly a result of Obama's sharpest break from Clinton -- whose ambitious health care plan drew immediate fire from Big Pharma, the American Medical Association, and health insurers: The Obama White House bought off the medical-industrial complex by promising it fatter profits, bolstered by tens of millions of new paying customers.
That and other deals cut with industry -- including promises to Big Pharma that Medicare wouldn't use its bargaining clout to reduce drug prices, to the AMA that doctors wouldn't have to face larger cuts in Medicare reimbursement rates, and to private insurers that the White House wouldn't fight hard for a public insurance option -- are likely to make the resulting reform far more costly than it would be otherwise. These extra costs will be borne by those Americans who will be required to buy insurance but won't qualify for federal assistance, along with Medicare beneficiaries who will be paying more and receiving less.
As I've said before, I don't always agree with Mr. Reich but I find him a consistently interesting read.