It's a jumbled mess requiring an M.B.A. to understand. That's as it should be because our elected representatives are screwing around with 1/6th of our economy. No matter what they decide, we will almost certainly be wrong. You can take that to the bank, and then bail it out.
My father was a WWII vet. Like most people in his generation, he never discussed the horrors he witnessed. But when drinking, he liked to recount the story of a surly old Wehrmacht soldier, missing both a leg and eye. My father and writer Kurt Vonnegut conducted an extensive tour of German bars twenty years after the war, where they befriended this Superman.
This sullen dude had fought everywhere, from Africa to Russia. He was among the Panzer divisions who spearheaded the Bulge, where my father and Vonnegut were captured. But he was in no mood for talking, at least not until they were all loaded.
Then it started. First, this old soldier flatly denied Germans were anti-Semitic. "We hated everybody," he insisted.
Then, in response to prodding and lots of German beer, he started rating soldiers from different countries. He like the British, who were very professional. He was scared to death of Australians, whom he claimed fought like wildmen. He derided the French as cowards who ran. He had no respect for Russians as fighters, but claimed that eventually, you just run out of bullets.
"What about the Americans?" my dad kept asking.
Finally, he had an answer, and it's a revealing commentary.
"We had a saying about the Amerikaners. Leave them alone, and they'll manage to screw things up all by themselves. But don't put them in a corner or they'll fight like hell."
If you take this old soldier's story, and apply it to the healthcare debate, it's pretty evident what is going on. We're in the screwing up stage. Despite the wide consensus that we desperately need health care reform, we're incredibly busy right now making matters even worse.
Health insurance companies that were supposed to be part of the problem may very well come out ahead. One Nebraska Senator traded his vote in exchange for giving that state a favored status with Medicaid funding. LV Congressman Charlie Dent calls this "flabbergasting," sand flatly states that "[t]his kind of backroom deal-making is not only an affront to the democratic process, but it may violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution."
Dent also observes that the Senate deal exempts some union plans from a tax on Cadillac insurance plans that are supposed to help pay for this reform. "[P]olitical connections were more important than other considerations in crafting this legislation," claims Dent, who contends that the Senate bill would never pass on its own merits.
"This unwelcome intrusion, and the political engineering behind it, is a lump of coal in the stocking of working Americans.”
Leave it to Congress to take an immensely popular idea - doing something to reform our expensive and unfair medical care system - and come up with solutions that are now opposed by a majority of Americans.
We're still in the screwing up stage.
In the meantime, now is a good time to buy health insurance stock.