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Archive for March 22nd, 2010

Last night was a historic one for America.  A healthcare reform bill was passed by Congress and awaits approval in the Senate before being signed into law by President Obama.

Is it perfect?  Certainly not.  It couldn’t be.  Passing legislation on a subject that affects such a large segment of our economy and all of our population could never approach perfection.  Some will say it’s not enough, that it doesn’t do enough.  Others will say it goes too far, is too intrusive. 

But it’s a true start, a real framework on which to build.  It is but a first step in a long process that needs to take place in order to bring substantive change to a system that has been devouring our economy for too long.  To do nothing and maintain the staus quo on healthcare as our government has been doing for too many decades was not a realistic option.  When you’re at risk of drowning there comes a point where you’re going to want to try to swim.

And we are in deep water.  Using the latest comprehensive figures, from 2007, the US spends over 2.2 trillion dollars, or $7400 for every person living here, for a system that doesn’t even include coverage for over 15% of its population.  The newer, not yet official, numbers are even higher, with healthcare costs growing much faster than the rate of inflation.

That means healthcare is eating about 16% or more of our GDP.  The average for other wealthy nations is 8-9% and that includes coverage for all their citizens in most cases.  And better overall healthcare, acording to most statistics.  We spend more and get less than any other nation in the world.  That puts us at a competitive disadvantage globally and  is unacceptable and unsustainable. 

Something had to be done and now it is officially underway with the imminent passage of this bill.  Let’s start building on this foundation.

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A couple of good articles on the subject:  Ezra Klein in the Washington Post  and Paul Krugman in the New York Times.  Klein’s view is very similar to that of mine and Krugman’s examines the contrast between the tones of the two opposing sides of this struggle.

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