I'm going to admit defeat in the health care reform debate. I'm just going to get out ahead of the White House and Congress and admit that there is simply no middle ground in this debate. I'm not talking about the middle ground between the Democrats and Republicans. I mean there's no middle ground between Democrats and between the Houses of Congress. It is becoming more clear that congress may pass a bill with a public option, but the senate never will.
It's time for the White House to retreat to a defensible position. I believe that the debate got away from the President when he was unable to define exactly what health care reform would mean for most Americans. The genie is out of the bottle at this point. There is no way to get the sweeping change that was promised through the Congress this year. The Right has done a masterful job of bringing out all the hot button issues to bear on this debate, from abortion to illegal immigrants. The administration spends so much time trying to combat these bogus charges (which more than 50% of the public believe by the way) that it's message has gotten lost.
I have a plan though. I'm not sure that anyone will follow it, but I do think it might actually be more effective. Health reform this year should be limited to introducing new regulations for the Health insurance industry. The legislation should make it illegal for the insurance companies to either deny coverage because of pre-existing conditions, or drop someone once their application has been approved. The last regulation should be that the lifetime caps on coverage should be eliminated. That's it. No mandates for universal coverage, no mandates for employer coverage, no public option, no single payer. Just some common sense regulations that will make the insurance companies policies a lot more equitable. The Republicans will of course oppose the legislation on some far fetched ground, but it will be easy to explain to the people and all Democrats should be able to get on board with it.
If those major insurance regulations could be pushed through this year, the President could claim a major victory. It's is now pretty clear that health care reform has to be done in smaller steps. It is apparent that something as complicated as a major health care overhaul is simply too much for the majority of the people to understand and is subject to the most spurious of attacks. The people have to be force fed their medicine. Perhaps if we give it to them in small doses they'll never be aware of how much they've actually swallowed. I say the President takes on one health care initiative a year as part of his planned agenda. Explain one thing at a time, have a unified message, and that will make it all less scary for most Americans. Perhaps this is the approach that the White House has. Maybe they've been planning this all along. I know that the President is much smarter than me and so are the people working for him, so I would find it hard to believe if I'm the first to come up with this idea.
This effort cannot go to waste. Substantial insurance reform would be a giant step in the right direction. If you have been watching and listening to the President closely during his recent town hall meetings, he has subtly turned his mentions of reform from health care reform into health insurance reform. Could that have been his goal all along? Maybe. Or maybe I'm just dreaming.