Most Americans are expecting big changes in our health-care system-and they want them fast. A Kaiser Family Foundation poll reported that 49% of the people responding expected people without insurance would get help in buying coverage this year or next. Twenty-five percent said three years, and 11% said “further in the future.”
Most of them will be disappointed. Even if Congress passes a bill this year, most changes are not scheduled to go into effect until at least 2013 or much later, according to the New York Times.
The lawmakers say change will take a long time, the process is complex, and delaying some changes will make the overhaul seemed less expensive and less upsetting. Remember: five-sixths of Americans now have health-care and some may not be eager to support the subsidies for the other one-sixth. In any case, the long and agonizing debate and the deferred 2013 target date certainly don’t indicate an emergency. But it is an emergency for millions of Americans.
The more likely reason for the delay is political. In the 2010 election, incumbent senators and representatives can run on their health care legislation, even though it will not be operational and therefore temporarily cost free. None of the inevitable errors and inconsistencies of the reforms will annoy the voters.
The delay in implementation will also please President Obama. When he runs for re-election in 2012 his historic achievement will still be cost free and complaint free. He will point out that he has accomplished what no other president could including Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Harry Truman, and Lyndon Johnson. Mount Rushmore will be on the horizon to match the Nobel Peace Prize.
Health-care reform in the U.S., whether it turns out to be inadequate and marginal revisions or fundamental change overthrowing the insurance companies (a miracle) will have to wait at least two elections before implementation. In the meantime, many Americans will suffer from the acknowledged inadequacies of our unique system of care.