With the election of Republican Scott Brown in Massachusetts last month, Democrats lost their crucial 60-vote majority in the Senate and the drive to reform health care suddenly hit the stone wall of united GOP opposition.
But that's just Washington. Back in the real world outside the Beltway, the case for reform is even more compelling today than it was before Mr. Brown's election.
The way that Americans get and pay for medical care and supplies went from bad to worse while Congress spent a year debating reform.
More families lost insurance, premiums went up, and more public hospitals were gripped by the financial equivalent of cardiac arrest. Sen. Brown's success did nothing to change this trend. In the weeks since his election, more signs of systemic malaise have popped up.
The latest comes from California, where Anthem Blue Cross, the state's largest for-profit health insurer, announced plans to raise premiums for some customers by as much as 39 percent by March 1. The company blamed the economy, saying more people had dropped their insurance, leaving "fewer people, often with significantly greater medical needs, in the insured pool."
That's the problem in a nutshell.
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