4:10 PM CDT, March 22, 2013
I've always had mixed feelings about President Obama's health care reform. It offers too many goodies while asking too little of those who will benefit. It assumes expensive prevention services will pay for themselves. It relies on a coercive individual mandate that Obama rejected when he ran for president.
But I don't have great sympathy for Republican efforts to repeal it, something they have failed to do in some three dozen votes in Congress so far. In the first place, the main reason Obamacare got passed is that the GOP showed so little interest in expanding access to health insurance during the years it controlled the White House and Congress. The Republican preference is quite literally to do nothing.
In the second place, Obamacare has yet to be fully implemented, and we'll learn a lot from what happens when it is. Maybe it will be a costly mess. Maybe it will shortchange patients and lead to rationing. Or maybe it will improve access to care at a reasonable price.
None of these outcomes would surprise me, and no one can be sure which will come to pass. The only way to find out is to let it take effect. The lessons it yields will be extremely helpful in designing health care policy.
Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz insists the program is "hurting young people, it’s hurting seniors, it’s hurting Hispanics, it’s hurting African-Americans, it’s hurting the economy." In fact, we don't know if it will hurt anyone. And if it turns out as badly as Cruz expects, there will be plenty of public pressure to alter or abolish it. And Republicans will reap the political rewards.
A couple of years from now, I may share that view. But for now, the best option is to wait and see.
Copyright © 2014 Chicago Tribune Company, LLC