Before continuing my posts on a public option for health coverage, I wanted to stop and comment on the concept of universal coverage. In response to my last post, an anonymous poster says that universal coverage contributes to higher life expectancies in other countries. My response to that is that (please take note)it might, although we should keep a few things in mind. First, most developed countries other than the US claim to have universal coverage. But that doesn't mean that everyone gets the same health care (they don't) and it doesn't mean that, in the US, there are people who get no health care (there aren't). In addition, for most of these countries, life expectancy clusters between 77 and 80. The difference between them could be attributed to health care, but it could be wholly unrelated.
We do know that when we look at things that the health care unambiguously delivers, i.e., timely care, good survival rates and medical innovations, the US system is unrivaled - and much of the innovation that leads to these things is then adopted by other countries which do not themselves produce them.
My conclusion - and I think it is a reasonable one - is that our current system does many things well for the overwhelming majority of people. So, to borrow from what has become an accepted part of the Hippocratic oath (although some say it was not there originally) - "first, do no harm." The reason that the President is losing the health care debate (indeed, may have already irrevocably lost it) is that his ambition largely dismisses that advice.
If there were nothing to lose, then the proposed centralization of "best practices, "pay for a (uniform concept of)performance," federally standardized coverages, and a public option that may undercut private alternatives and dampen incentives for innovation even as it results in greater equality wouldn't bother people.
But there is something to lose. The awful and immoral health care system that is portrayed by our friends on the left is not the health care system as experienced by somewhere between 75 and 90% of Americans. If you don't begin your thinking by acknowledging that, you aren't going to get anywhere.
And Obama hasn't. The problem is not that "special interests" (a much abused term) are unfairly frightening people. It's that people have reason to be frightened. Like Mrs. Clinton before him, Obama is making the perfect the enemy of the good.
This isn't to say that universal coverage isn't a laudable goal (we should seek it) or that there is no room for improvement. But folks are understandably reluctant to throw the baby out with the bath water. The President has consistently failed to take that concern seriously. He knows it is a problem. This is why he began by claiming that no one would be forced out of their current coverage before he had to acknowledge that he only meant that the government wouldn't mandate such an outcome, although it might very well occur. His speculation about "red pills" and "blue pills" and pain killers instead of treatment for those who are too old or too sick plays into what everyone knows are the weaknesses of public health plans.
Fairly or not, folks on the left blame the "Harry and Louise" ads for killing HillaryCare. However you view those ads, it may not have taken even that to kill ObamaCare. Somehow this guy doesn't seem so formidable. It turns out that he's not "like God" after all.