Health Care Reform, Slowly but Surely
“The State Senate has now been in session for four days in regular session," Fitzgerald explained.
That's right. Four whole days.
Senate Majority Leader Judy Robson properly shot back her own press release that easily dismissed the minority leader's rhetoric. As Robson explained, the Dems are choosing to take their time getting feedback from the public before moving forward on any single plan.
And if the state GOP's experience with TABOR is any indication, proceeding slowly but surely is a wise move. Rather than creating a three ring circus situation like the one that existed last spring -- where conservative Republicans fell over each other proposing new amendments that would appeal to moderate Republicans only to alienate other conservative Republicans in the process -- any significant reform measure needs to make sure the horse is before the cart from the beginning.
On Monday, for instance, the Marshfield News Herald did a story on a forum held by the Stevens Point League of Women Voters that featured speakers on each of the three health care reform proposals made during previous legislative sessions (the proposals that Fitzgerald and Republicans, then in control of the entire legislature, opted to do nothing about).
As David Riemer -- spokesperson for the Wisconsin Health Plan (WHP) -- pointed out at the event, none of the plans is likely to move through the legislature in its current form. Ultimately, a hybrid proposal is most likely to be put forward.
In light of a recent UPI/Zogby poll on health care reform, this is probably the best route to go. While 9 out of 10 Americans want health care reform, the disagreement is in the details. But the poll did show that a majority believed any reform measure needs to be a combination of public and private solutions.
If the Wisconsin public feels the same as the rest of the country, it suggests that Riemer's WHP is best positioned out of the three existing proposals to appeal to the broadest range of citizens. While the WHP is a combination of public and private solutions through its continuation of private insurance and use of HSAs within a publicly accountable centralized structure, the Wisconsin Health Care Partnership Plan leans more heavily on government regulation and the Wisconsin Health Security Act does so exclusively.
Whichever plan is ultimately pursued by legislative Democrats in the state, it's clear proceeding cautiously is smart. The sheer scope of any significant reform measure is complicated by the fact this is a budget year, and the mix becomes outright volatile when considering all of the ways to spin and attack any proposal that fundamentally alters the way an expensive and complex system is funded.
There's inevitably going to be winners and losers with an undertaking as large as fundamental health care reform. And rather than simply consider whether more winners will exist in the proposed system or whether the extent of losing in the new system is less than the losing that's already taking place in the existing system, the debate can quickly focus on the fact that there will be losers at all.
Therein lies the catch-22 of actually passing fundamental health care reform: There can't be any losing in a reform measure that can't help but create winners and losers. Changing the terms of how reform measures are evaluated is the monumental task, and it's one that takes securing the broadest level of public awareness and support possible before even stepping into the ring.