In the beginning, health care reform was about changing a system that costs families and government exorbitant amounts of money and doesn't perform very well.
After months of rancor, rallies, rumors, debates, threats, polls and politics, the task remains the same. It's time for Congress to move forward.
Bills passed by the House and Senate would dramatically reduce the ranks of the uninsured and create a marketplace of "exchanges" that would provide more choices and transparency for consumers. Insurance companies could no longer discriminate against people who are sick or have been in the past. Healthy people would have to pay into the pool either by purchasing a policy or paying a fee.
Those are the pillars of health insurance reform. A proposal that President Barack Obama put forth Monday basically tries to bridge some differences in the House and Senate bills over financing measures, subsidy amounts and whether to pay for abortions.
The bills so far are the work of compromises among Democrats, with conservative and moderate members of that party holding the most sway. Many provisions have received support from Republicans in the past. Some of them, like the controversial-but-necessary insurance mandate, actually got their start in the GOP.
Yet Republicans have pursued a strategy of lockstep opposition. Contrary to a body of research by economists and health policy experts, they insist the broken U.S. health care system can be set right with a series of small fixes — some of which are already written into the bills on the table.
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