Senator Wyden debates health care at TPM Cafe

Over at TPM Cafe, they've been engaged in a week-long debate about universal health care - keying off the new book entitled Sick: The Untold Story of America's Health Care Crisis---and the People Who Pay the Price by Jonathan Cohn.

Among the participants in the debate is Senator Ron Wyden - who argued that universal health care is a real possibility... this year. That's right: In 2007.

The conventional wisdom holds that we’ll have to wait until 2009, when a new administration takes office, before Congress attempts to reform health care in earnest. I disagree. I believe we have a unique opportunity now to move forward on health reform and it’s time for Congress to act. ...

There are a few reasons why I believe that universal coverage is attainable in the near future. Historically, divided governments have been successful at passing and implementing broad reforms. Take tax reform, for instance. In 1986, a Democratically controlled House of Representatives worked with President Reagan to come up with a new tax plan that simplified the tax code and expanded the tax base. The same was true in 1996 when a Republican-held House passed Clinton’s welfare reform bill.

With the end of this president’s second term drawing near, I am hopeful that he will turn his attention to health care. Whether or not he will offer a proposal that the Congress can work with, it’s hard to tell. What I do know is that the president needs to act quickly if he hopes to build a positive domestic record before he leaves office. Given the recent convergence of interests between labor, business, and health consumers, it’s certainly conceivable and logical that President Bush will look to health reform to become the signature domestic issue of his second term. ...

I believe that we can fix health care sooner rather than later. The window of opportunity for us to do so, though, is quickly closing. Soon our work on Capitol Hill will be eclipsed by the 2008 presidential race, and once that happens, we will have to wait until at least 2009 for an effort to achieve universal coverage. In the meantime, health coverage will become more and more expensive and less and less affordable for average Americans.

Read the rest of Wyden's "Why Wait?" commentary. And then dive into the rest of the TPM Cafe "book club" debate on health care.

Discuss over there.


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