This bill joins other landmark social legislation, like President Roosevelt’s 1935 Social Security Act, and President Johnson’s 1964 Civil Rights Act and 1965 Medicare and Medicaid Acts. And, like those previous bills, you cannot analyze their pros and cons in purely tactical terms. You have to focus on the impact of such landmark legislation on the long term evolution of the country. You have to look at the 2010 health care legislation as history in the making.
There is no question that this legislation is imperfect, perhaps considerably so. But there is also no question that health care in the US has been frozen in decades-old models that no longer work. As many have pointed out, despite expenditures that are significantly higher than those of other industrialized countries, US healthcare performance has been declining relative to these countries on just about all key indicators of health, including quality, access, efficiency and equity. Unique among industrialized countries, over 15% of the US population lacks health insurance, which according to several studies, is responsible for tens of thousands of unnecessary deaths every year.
The status quo was unacceptable. Something had to be done. Most of us would agree that, the US is better off for having passed social security in 1935, and Medicare and the civil rights act in the mid 1960s. The key question we must now ask is whether years from now, our country will be better off as a result of our having just passed these health care bills.