Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Audacity of Change: Obama's Healthcare Gambit

Starting in the late 1980s and early 1990s, I began to hear an increasingly alarmed cry from certain political sectors about the fate of healthcare. As early as 1987, health care costs rose from #15 to #7 in the list of Americans' top worries about the future and  that only got worse. As the '90s wore on and into the '00s, I continued to hear two things:

  1. Because of the baby-boom, health care and retirement programs were going to run out of money.
  2. Because doing anything about it was complicated and fraught with risk, no politician was going to do anything about it until it was too late.
Pundit after pundit proclaimed this second point on the left and the right with all of the conviction of optimists slowly ground down into cynics by the repeated failure of their politicians to do anything challenging that would risk their political futures.
In 1993 and 1994 the Bill Clinton administration attempted to push the Health Security Act through congress. This was a true overhaul of health care in the United States, which provided for a set of regional health care alliances which managed the interaction between health insurance providers and consumers. It avoided the controversial "mandate" of Obama's plan by making health care premiums a tax which funded regional alliances.