Liberals Should Close Ranks and Vote for the Health Care Bill

Scratch a health care expert -- find a single-payer advocate. Most of the health policy experts out there always secretly admit that in their heart of hearts a Canadian/French/Swiss government run health care system is the only option. For me, Medicare works already -- slowly drop the age of Medicare and let people in their 50's buy into it.

And true, the health care bill is not perfect -- and some of the provisions will be much harder to implement than the policymakers believe (I know. I've done it.)

All that aside, the liberals in the House to a man or woman should vote for it. Why? Because it has way, way too many things that have been unobtainable for the last 20 plus years. Here are three big examples:

Rescission (in the 1990's it was called "post-claims underwriting"). You enroll for health insurance. You fill out your "quote" pre-existing conditions on the application -- the best you can. You get sick with something serious like breast cancer. Money is on the line. That's when the insurer really starts to investigate. The insurer "rescinds" your insurance contract because of you didn't talk about your zits. For years legislative attempta and court cases failed to stop the practice. The new health care bill will abolish recission.

Pre-existing condition. The most complained about practice when I was Insurance Commissioner. We reduced it to three months -- and it worked -- and then seven years later the insurers got the legislature to push it back to 12 months.

Premium increases. Trying to hold down unjustified premium increases is like a shoot out at the O.K. Corral. All through the 1990's,as Washington's Insurance Commissioner, I was in confrontation with the Blue Coss/Blue Shield plans over spiraling health care increases. My last year in office the insurers convinced the legislature to revoke my office's ability to stop health insurance premium increases. The new health care bill makes a go at holding down rates.

And there are more -- abolishing lifetime caps, beginning to close the Meidicare donut hole, coverage for dependents and more.

In the past, all these reforms had to be fought for -- one at a time in each of the fifty states. There is too much good in the health care bill to let this opportunity slip through our fingers. There will still be many problems for health care consumers -- but this is an excellent foundation upon which to build. And rest assured, as in my experience, we will have to keep fighting for the reforms we have gained.