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

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Recruitment Consultant / Account Manager - Surrey / SW London

£40000 per annum + realistic targets: Ashdown Group: A thriving recruitment co...

Ashdown Group: Part-time Payroll Officer - Yorkshire - Professional Services

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful professional services firm is lo...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Nicola Sturgeon could have considerable influence over David Cameron in a hung parliament  

General Election 2015: What if Cameron were to end up in hock to the SNP?

Steve Richards
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before