Will health care reform happen? A simple guide

I presented the following theory to two notable health care commentators a few nights ago.  Congressmen are looking to sell their voters for the highest "price" possible and they know Obama really wants, and indeed needs, to win a health care victory.  As health care reform "falls apart," these Congressmen face the risk that they will get nothing for those votes.  Suddenly their cartel falls apart and they lower the price for those votes.  A deal is then possible and Obama buys the votes at the lower price.

What appears to be pessimistic news for health care reform can in fact be optimistic news.  Another implication of this theory is that a lot of the "news" along the way, concerning the fate of reform, is simply noise.

I don't know what is the "p" of an extended coverage bill passing, but I believe that p has stayed fairly constant so far.

There are plenty of games in which the equilibrium and the true offer curves are not revealed until the final period.  When it comes to health care, we're not yet at the end.


Obama is not the only bidder. We also have insurance and pharma companies, who pay cash.

Why do you feel that Obama "needs" a health care package? The election is 3 years away. It will be decided by the economy, not health care.

It's not going through.(inside info on that one)

The prediction markets are not optimistic for reform this year.


Don't many of the Democrats in Congress need a win too? The last failure led to electoral losses in 1994, not 1996.

David, that intrade contract is for the creation of a public plan, not health care reform. Note the description: "This contract covers only the creation of a government run health insurance plan that is an alternative to private health insurance. ... A co-op system of health care provision is not considered a government run health plan."

Don't many of the Democrats in Congress need a win too? The last failure led to electoral losses in 1994, not 1996.

I don't think people voted GOP because health care reform failed, they were angry because the Dems tried to do it at all. If a lack of reform is what angered them they would have voted the GOP out, not in.

This is the best predictor of how Dems will vote in Congress -- based on the sentiment of their constituents. Blue Dogs want to keep costs down so they can better justify an aye vote to the voters. They know that an openly big government plan could spell their doom come next November.

People are still talking about the arrest of a professor for disorderly conduct inside his own home in terms of "racial profiling." It may be years before people realize that story is about the police, not about race. It was years before people accepted Iraq as a debacle. I could go on. Point being, how can I believe any prediction based on politicians as rational actors? The whole idea behind Obama wanting to get it done fast is to avoid rationality. Is Krugman contributing to rational debate? Aye, that'd be a "hell no."

I don't think you realize how shaky the Democratic majority really is. When you have that many first- and second-term Congressmen, the risk of losing an election is pretty high. It was six years between the Democratic takeover of both houses in '58 and the start of the Great Society. Elected officials felt comfortable enough at that point to take the risk. And the cost in seats was automatic, with Republicans gaining 47 seats in the House. Another example is the '86 elections, when the Republicans lost the Senate due to Iran-Contra. Six out of seven Senators running for their first re-election lost.

If a reporter were to come to his editor with a proposed article titled, “President Obama is gay,† the editor would demand supporting evidence, before that article ever saw daylight.
However, if the same reporter submitted an article titled, “Federal deficit is too high,† history says the editor would ask for no supporting evidence, nor would the article contain any. The media merely assume, as a matter of faith, that revenue neutrality is more prudent than deficits.
Economics is rare, perhaps unique, among sciences, most of which demand evidence for their hypotheses. Only in economics can intuition, faith and popular wisdom obviate facts or even the desire for facts. Thus, I have had editors, columnists and reporters tell me it is “obvious† that large deficits are unsustainable, lead to recessions, depressions, inflations and hyper-inflations. When I ask for evidence to support these views, I seldom hear from them again, probably because they feel scientific evidence is unnecessary in a science, but more importantly, they don’t have any.
Even the Concord Coalition, an organization that for seventeen years, has collected vast amounts of money to preach for federal deficit reduction, unashamedly offers no evidence to support its views. Check its website, www.concordcoalition.org, or write to them and you will see they neither offer nor have evidence.
Because our leaders parrot the economic beliefs promoted by the media, lack of evidence has contributed heavily to the government actions that yield repeated recessions. Until the media learn to ask, “What is your evidence?† we will continue to suffer periodic, economic traumas. These traumas may seem inevitable and unavoidable, but in reality they are caused by beliefs lacking evidence.

Rodger Malcolm Mitchell
[email protected]

Obama doesn't "need" HC reform. If it passed then it is no longer an issue. Absent the "you shouldn't have to pay for healthcare" card, the Left only has the Global Warming/Cooling/Climate Change and abortion cards.

In fact, Washington needs to be perpetually playing these sorts of games to keep the money flowing from special interests. If any side wins then all sides lose.

The only guarantee is that the taxpayer, generally, always loses, and the overlords always win.

I predict that you will see a Health Care Reform bill passed this year, but it will have little in the way of reform and do next to nothing to fix or improve one's health care.

To understand the urgency with which Obama is pushing Health Care Reform, you have to understand it is about the lobbying power of Walmart, GM, and other large employers who want to cut health care costs.

If Obama was worried about voters, all he would need is to present a token health care reform plan that was slightly more lefty than the Republicans. It would be good enough to win votes in a two party system, but still preserve the status quo, thus thus be unlikely to backfire and alienate voters.

Why should a Congressperson commit before the August recess, particularly when it is not clear what bill will pass through the Committee? Congresspersons can absorb the heat better if they can say they are waiting to see the final bill. Republicans would rather target them with non-existent bills or features that are likely to reformed or rejected.

I think it's more likely that Tyler doesn't vote. Very strong political opinions, of course, but in the time it takes him to vote he can probably use his privileged social position to influence ten times as many other voters.

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