Before reform goes on hiatus along with Congress during their August recess, columnists leave us with three of the most pressing and lingering questions in the health care debate.
Will it be health care reform? Or insurance reform?
Charles Krauthhammer says insurance reform is more likely. According to Krauthammer, Barack Obama's health care reform plan is dead. But he says Obama "will emerge with something he can call health-care reform," because Democrats have to give the president something, or "they'll have slain their own savior in his first year in office." Obama, "will have to settle for something very modest. And indeed it will be health-insurance reform," which Krauthhammer says could bankrupt insurance companies.
"The beginning of the retreat was signaled by Obama's curious reference -- made five times -- to "health-insurance reform" during his July 22 news conference."
How can we make Americans less confused about health care?
Paul Krugman says Americans don't understand how the health care system works right now, they don't understand the reforms the President is pushing for, and most importantly, they don't understand that government intervention in health care is not a radical idea. According to Krugman, "the government is already deeply involved, even in private insurance. And that government involvement is the only reason our system works at all." We need to make it clear that if you enjoy reasonable health care coverage, you should "thank the government."
"Right-wing opponents of reform would have you believe that President Obama is a wild-eyed socialist, attacking the free market. But unregulated markets don't work for health care -- never have, never will."
What to do about tort reform?
Medical tort reform is the best way to lower health care costs, says Phillip K. Howard in the Washington Post. He writes that "Defensive medicine -- the practice of ordering tests and procedures that aren't needed to protect a doctor from the remote possibility of a lawsuit," is responsible for huge inefficiencies and expenditures. Howard argues reforming the medical justice system could "save so much money that universal coverage would be possible." The fact that it's been so little discussed is an outrage:
"As the nation debates health-care overhaul, not addressing defensive medicine would be a scandal, a willful refusal by Congress to deal with one of the causes of skyrocketing health-care costs."