Argument: 2009 health bill is much better than nothing

Issue Report: US health care reform


Paul Krugman. “Pass the Bill”. New York Times Op-Ed. December 17, 2009: “let’s all take a deep breath, and consider just how much good this bill would do, if passed — and how much better it would be than anything that seemed possible just a few years ago. With all its flaws, the Senate health bill would be the biggest expansion of the social safety net since Medicare, greatly improving the lives of millions. Getting this bill would be much, much better than watching health care reform fail.”

Jonathan Cohn. “Yes, I can be excited about this bill.” TPM Cafe. December 18, 2009: “But for all of these misgivings, I can still muster a lot of enthusiasm for the enterprise underway. And that’s because of one simple fact: Many millions of people will be better off. More people will have insurance. And people who already have insurance will have more guarantees of coverage. It’s been a generation, at least, since the U.S. government helped this many people. That’s not the kind of opportunities progressives should pass up.”

Joe Biden. “Why the Senate should vote yes on health care.” New York Times. December 19, 2009: “The issues in the health reform bill are complicated, but the consequences of failing to pass it are straightforward. Those who would vote no on this bill need to look into the eyes of Americans who don’t have health care now and tell them they’re going to be better off without this bill — better off continuing to live without health coverage. They should explain to all those Americans who are denied coverage because they have pre-existing conditions or whose insurance ran out because of lifetime caps that they don’t need this bill. And they should tell the families who have insurance and the small-business owners who provide it that the relentless rise in their premiums without this bill will somehow make them glad it didn’t pass.”

Ezra Klein. “Still time to think small.” Washington Post. November 19th, 2009: “This is a good bill. Not a great bill, but a good bill. Imagine telling a Democrat in the days after the 2004 election that the 2006 election would end Republican control of Congress, the 2008 election would return a Democrat to the White House, and by the 2010 election, Democrats would have passed a bill extending health-care coverage to 94 percent of Americans, securing trillions of dollars in subsidies for low-income Americans (the bill’s $900 billion cost is calculated over 10 years, but the subsidies continue indefinitely into the future), and imposing a raft of new regulations on private insurers. It is, without doubt or competition, the single largest social policy advance since the Great Society. Not bad, huh?”

“Health reform right now beats none at all.” Chicago Sun Times. December 20, 2009: “Pass the Senate health-care reform bill now. Call it a Christmas present to the nation.

Deeply flawed as the bill may be, it offers the promise of dramatically better health-care coverage in the United States — and to let this chance slip away is to risk killing reform for another generation to come.

As Bill Clinton, who famously failed to reform health care early in his presidency and never got a second shot at it, said last week: ‘Take it from someone who knows — these chances don’t come around every day.'”

Senator Sherrod Brown. “31 million reasons to support this bill.” Real Clear Politics. December 24, 2009: “When it comes to health care, the cost of inaction is simply too high. More than 390 Ohioans lose their health insurance every day. Small businesses and the self-employed can pay double or triple what large businesses pay for coverage. By 2007, 62% of bankruptcies were due to medical costs. And forty-five thousand Americans die each year because they are uninsured and can’t get the care they need.

American families can’t have economic security if they’re one hospital visit away from financial ruin. And American businesses can’t attract the brightest minds or compete globally if they’re saddled with unaffordable health insurance rates. American families and businesses deserve more affordable and dependable health insurance, and this morning’s vote moves us one step closer to that goal.”