How Health Care Reform Will Change Politics

Angrier partisanship, happier drug makers, more liberal Democrats

This article is from the archive of our partner .
The passage of a major piece of legislation is always met with boisterous and somewhat overheated projections for how it will change everything. Yet health care reform--one of the biggest pieces of legislation passed in decades--may reshape the political reality on a scale like one of the last major acts of social welfare reform, President Lyndon B. Johnson's civil rights legislation. Here's how.
  • Liberal Dems Stronger Than Ever The New Republic's John Judis credits the Obama movement, liberal grassroots, and even the galvanizing Tea Partiers for strengthening the liberal base . "This campaign altered the chemistry of the debate within Congress and among Democrats. Democrats in Washington had come to understand that it was us versus them, with 'them' being Republicans, Tea Partyists, and various business lobbies, but they can now recognize that there is a real 'us' out there."
  • Most Partisan Washington Ever? The New York Times' David Sanger sighs, "Obama has lost something — and lost it for good. Gone is the promise on which he rode to victory less than a year and a half ago — the promise of a 'postpartisan' Washington in which rationality and calm discourse replaced partisan bickering. Never in modern memory has a major piece of legislation passed without a single Republican vote."
  • Can Such Angry Politics Accomplish Anything? The Washington Post's Ezra Klein looks over the political theater from Sunday's vote--which included House Minority Leader John Boehner yelling "hell no" on the House floor--and from reform's long slog. "It was a reminder of how far our politics have strayed, and how much more extreme our rhetoric has become, than the underlying legislation warrants. The deafening volume of the debate long ago drowned out its subject."
  • Drug Makers and Hospitals Win, Insurance Loses The New York Times' Reed Abelson says the implications of reform will mean "millions more Americans buying private health insurance and better able to pay for their hospital stays, doctors’ visits, prescription drugs and medical devices." That's great news for drug makers and hospitals as it opens up a whole new market of customers. However, as tough insurance regulations kick in, "the outlook for insurers was less certain."
For Now, the significance of the vote is moving the United States FROM a system in which people can assume they will have health coverage IF they are old enough (Medicare), poor enough (Medicaid), fortunate enough (working for an employer that offers coverage, or able themselves to bear expenses), or in some other way specially positioned (veterans; elected officials)... TOWARD a system in which people can assume they will have health-care coverage. Period.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.