Leading article: US healthcare fudge is still progress

Share
Related Topics

Politics often comes down to a choice between half a loaf or none at all. That is the position in which America's Democrats find themselves as the Senate approaches a series of momentous votes next week on healthcare reform.

The Senate bill as it now stands after weeks of haggling and horse-trading is far from perfect, and a shadow of the root-and-branch overhaul liberals had hoped for. It contains no government-run scheme to, in President Obama's words, "keep the private insurance companies honest". In too many respects special interests, such as the insurance and pharmaceutical industries, have had their way. In the short term, the measure may even push up the cost of health coverage, rather than reduce it.

But the bill still does many excellent things. It will extend coverage to more than 35 million Americans who have none. It bars insurance companies from denying coverage to people on the grounds of existing medical conditions, and provides help to those not covered through their employer, and who currently have to buy exorbitantly expensive individual policies on the private market.

Even now, after weeks of debate, and any number of concessions, the Senate's Democratic leadership cannot be sure of rounding up the 60 votes needed to overcome the threatened Republican filibuster – at least in time to meet the President's goal of passage by the end of this year. If all goes well, the final vote will be taken on Christmas Eve, but Republican obstructionism could push the date into the New Year.

Liberals, understandably, are furious. Howard Dean, the former presidential candidate and a doctor himself, says it is a sell-out to the insurance companies, and should be abandoned. House Democrats vow to unpick the Senate version when the two chambers meet to agree a final bill to go to the White House for signature.

The harsh truth, however, is that the only measure with a chance of making it to the President's desk is whatever emerges from the Senate. Liberals should hold their noses and accept it. Half a loaf is better than none. Another chance for desperately needed reform will not quickly come again.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Web Analyst – Permanent – West Sussex – Up to £43k

£35000 - £43000 Per Annum plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...

Internal Project Manager - Business Analyst, Financial Services

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Harrington Starr: One of the best known and most pr...

SQL DBA/Developer

£500 per day: Harrington Starr: SQL DBA/Developer
 SQL, C#, VBA, Linux, SQL Se...

.NET Developer

£650 per day: Harrington Starr: C#.NET Developer ASP.Net, C#.net, WCF, WPF, .N...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

What's the most meaningful response we could have to the murder of James Foley?

Archie Bland
The back page of today's i  

i Editor's Letter: Your response to our new back page of sports

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

But could his predictions of war do the same?
Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

Young at hort

Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

Beyond a joke

Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

A wild night out

Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve
Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition: It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans

Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition

It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans
Besiktas vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie

Besiktas vs Arsenal

Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie
Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

As the Northern Irishman prepares for the Barclays, he finds time to appear on TV in the States, where he’s now such a global superstar that he needs no introduction
Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to Formula One

Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to F1

The 16-year-old will become the sport’s youngest-ever driver when he makes his debut for Toro Rosso next season
Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

But belated attempts to unite will be to no avail if the Sunni caliphate remains strong in Syria, says Patrick Cockburn
Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I would end up killing myself in jail'

Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I'd end up killing myself in jail'

Following last week's report on prison suicides, the former inmate asks how much progress we have made in the 50 years since the abolition of capital punishment