I am one of the people who thinks ObamaCare didn’t go far enough. I want true universal coverage provided through a single-payer entity that is supported by tax dollars. But I also have a visceral reaction to short-sighted chuckleheads who never miss an opportunity to let the perfect be the enemy of the good. They are keeping themselves busy until the first of the year by pissing and moaning and kicking up a hell of a fuss because they don’t want to buy insurance. Since I work for the Washington Monthly and Steve Benen was working there at the time he originated the Pass. The. Damn. Bill. meme, Maybe I take the nay-saying a bit personal. Or maybe I’m just a realist. I realize that politics is the art of the possible, and that for every lefty like me, there is a righty with the same inalienable rights I have — and a government of, by, and for the people must strike a balance between us.
I haven’t forgotten the Brown-Coakley race in Massachusetts. Scott Brown signed autographs for his supporters with “41.” He ran on being the 41st vote against healthcare reform, no matter what the bill said or how it read, he promised to be agin’ it. He won, because Martha Coakley ran the worst campaign in the history of politics.
That left us with one option…the Senate bill that Max Baucus took credit for, but that was actually written by Liz Fowler, an insurance executive. The Senate had passed a bill that the House found unpalatable because it had no public option, while the Senate, with the newly-seated Scott Brown wasn’t going to take up the House-passed, more liberal bill, nor any other, for that fact. Healthcare reform was, they assumed, as dead as Ted.
But the Senate had already passed the Fowler bill, certain that a bill that was perceived to be as insurance-industry friendly as that one was, would never see the light of day. The feckless Senate thought they were going through the motions, Obama would meet his Waterloo (as I pointed out at the time DeMint said that, Napoleon wasn’t fighting ghosts — Wellington was there, too) and healthcare reform would be dead for another twenty years, at least.
Then, a miracle happened. The House heeded the sage advice offered by my then-colleague Steve Benen, and they passed the damn bill. Now, the benefits of doing so are starting to roll in and they are having a positive impact on everyday people like you and me.
The Labor Department’s price index for medical care — a figure that includes individuals’ outlays for insurance, medical supplies, doctor visits and hospital stays — fell a seasonally adjusted 0.1% in May. The leading driver of last month’s drop was a 0.6% contraction in prescription-drug costs.
The dip came as overall inflation across the economy remained moderate, rising a seasonally adjusted 0.1% during the month, a reflection of the slow recovery that has contained product prices and wages for years.
The latest turn in consumers’ medical costs, in figures released Tuesday, follows decades of steady gains in health-care costs from technological advances and increased use of health services. The last time medical costs posted a monthly decline, the patent on the modern MRI machine was a year old and the first test-tube baby was three years from being born. That was 1975.
Compared with a year earlier, the medical prices index increased 2.2%. That’s higher than the overall 1.4% gain in consumer prices but still the slowest annual expansion since the 1970s.
This matters. This matters a whole hell of a lot. This number has been steadily climbing every single month for decades. Medical bills have been the cause of more than half of all bankruptcies in this nation for years, and spiraling medical costs have been at least part of the reason for the fact that wages have been stagnant for thirty years. Raises have been eaten up by the cost of healthcare, with some employers seeing a 600% increase in the cost of providing care in the decade between 1981 and 1991.
How anyone can look at the reality of the system pre-ObamaCare and say that nothing would be better than what we got is beyond me. I do know one thing, tho…I’m not going to argue with purists any more, on either end. I will, instead, spend my time on those in the middle, who have been misinformed by the purists on both sides of the issue.