In the wake of the midterm elections, many are now speculating about what will happen to President Obama’s health care law with a Republican Senate. However, all the partisan talk misses the point. In America, change does not come from politicians. It comes from the American people and the popular culture.
Contrary to the self-serving view from official Washington, politics does not lead change; it is a lagging indicator of change. Today, the political process is simply trying to catch up with where the voters have been for a long time. Well before Barack Obama ran for president, there was a strong desire for health care reform. People wanted more control over their own health care decisions and lower costs.
President Obama’s plan symbolically addressed the deep desire for reform. But it did not give people more control over their medical care. It did impose unpopular mandates, and most believe it will lead to higher prices. So, while voters appreciated the effort to do something, the law itself has remained unpopular since day one.
To remedy that, the politicians have to get a few things out of the way first. The Republican Senate will join the House of Representatives and bring up a bill to repeal the president’s law. This is an absolutely essential step on the road to recovery. It’s what the GOP candidates promised and what their voters are demanding.
While essential, the repeal effort won’t get out of the Senate. There are still enough Democrats in office to filibuster the bill.
Then, Mitch McConnell and the Senate Republicans will challenge parts of the law with a variety of measures. Some will attract support from Democratic Senators; others won’t. All will be vetoed by President Obama. Democrats will complain about wasting all that energy on bills that are going nowhere. Republicans will complain about the president’s stubborn refusal to acknowledge the election results.
And then, only then, will the serious work of health care reform begin. The key will be discussions revolving around the individual and employer mandates. These provisions, more than anything else, restrict the ability of consumers and workers to make their own health care decisions. Why should the government force people to buy more insurance than they need or want? Why should employers make health care choices for their workers? Who should decide the trade-off between salary and insurance?
These are the questions that will drive the debate. For most Americans, the answer is that each individual should be free to make his or her own choices. Nobody wants his employer, insurance companies or the federal government making such vital decisions for him.
Not only are these issues of great concern to voters but they are the key to bringing down health care costs. Putting individuals in charge of their own health care decisions will bring enormous pressures to bear on excessive medical care costs. Not only that, loosening the grip of insurance companies on the process will open the way for new technology to save lives and cut costs.
The common-sense wisdom of the American people is leading the nation to a better health care system. The political process is still resisting, but sooner or later will catch up. When they do, we will have one more reason to be optimistic about America’s future.
To find out more about Scott Rasmussen and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com.