If this was a sports event or some really stadium-packing group like the Rolling Stones or U2, it would have been sold out in minutes and the scalpers out in force. But as the event I am referring to is the battle over health care reform that will be fought out in the halls of Congress and over many months, tickets are still to be had. Only when the battle has reached a really pitched point can the public afford to separate its gaze from the trivial and pay attention to the serious stuff. And even then, it almost always comes down to ‘Who’s going to win?’
In any case, this promises to be one hell of a battle, even if it does go on for months. Upwards of $2 trillion annually is at stake here in terms of the tab for health care in this country. Entrenched forces are not going to walk away from that lightly and those attacking the status quo are going to have to be mighty determined if they are to make over the current system the way they want.
One thing about President Obama in his drive to reshape the health care system in the U.S. is that he has stayed on message and managed to get a lot of Democrats in Congress behind him. Given the man’s track record of pulling off surprises, I would not be at all complacent if I were one of the industries to be affected.
Those industries, meanwhile, realized that simply saying no is not going to cut it with the President, the Congress and the public. So they have made gestures–execs from six health care-related trade groups presented the President with a pledge in May to work to shave some $2 trillion or more over 10 years from the cost of health care.
By some accounts, however, these organizations immediately started to backpedal, saying that what they said was misrepresented or exaggerated.
What’s proving to be the galvanizing point of focus here is the so-called ‘public option,’ wherein the government could be a provider of insurance to those who aren’t covered by group or individual plans.
The cries have already gone up about how the public option with the government’s muscle behind it would eventually crowd out private insurers from the market. This, critics say, would spell the end of health care as we know it in this country.