The Health Care Reform attempt seems to have been waylaid by Republicans and conservative Democrats. These are the same folk, in general, who supported the first Bush tax cut package with glee--costing more than $1.3 trillion over ten years without even a clear goal of what it was intended to accomplish. When the Bush tax cuts started, they were to give back surplus and by the time the first of many bills passed, the Republicans were spouting the old saw that tax cuts would generate revenue out of nothing, so that they would stimulate the economy and create jobs. After 8 years or moribund job growth, more outsourcing, and a stifled economy for all but the rich at the top, the economic edifice built by tax cuts, deregulation, privatization and military spending crumbled into the banking fiasco and larger economic recession we are trying to work our way out of today. Yet these same folks object to money being spent for something that clearly accomplishes a singificant improvement in society and in the lives, really, of all of us--a national public option, like Medicare, for all of us. They say it costs too much (after not objecting to Bush's tax cuts!) or that it doesn't like the private companies make enough money. 57 members of the House stood up yesterday and said that they would not vote for the watered down compromise mess that the Blue Dogs and Republicans pushed for. Hopefully they'll stand firm. Congress needs to get this right, rather than just letting the system continue to run amok.
Here's an idea about how we could really make health insurance available for all, from one of my colleagues, Joe Dodge, the Stearns Weaver Miller Weissler Alhadeff & Sitterson Professor of Law at Floriday State University College of Law. (He has kindly permitted me to publish this here. I've edited to format the comment, but I've not added anything substantively to it.)
If the political judgment is that everybody be covered by a basic insurance plan, then it makes sense that this plan be run like social security.
[Here are a few requirements for such a plan.]
1) The plan would spell out what's covered.
2) Perhaps there should be a "residual clause" under which [some additional amount] per person could be spent for non-covered but non-routine [medical expenditures].
3) There should be co-pays - which can be waived for the very poor - to prevent people from over-using the system; the co-pays should not be deductible.
4) People with money could buy supplementary insurance in the private market.
5) Sections 105 and 106 [permitting exclusions for amounts received under accident and health insurance and for employer-provided coverage] would be repealed, because a universal pool is better than any group pool.
6) If sec. 213 [permitting a deduction for medical expenses not compensated by insurance, to the extent they exceed 7.5% of adjusted gross income] is to remain in any form, it would only cover certain uninsured costs, but there would be no need for a floor. Probably care that is essentially an "upgrade" (like private rooms, unproven procedures, use of expensive equipment) should not be deductible (but insurance for this would be allowed).