National Journal’s health care experts’ blog today asked its contributors how the health care reform debate will change after Americans cast their votes tomorrow. Heritage’s Stuart Butler, vice president for domestic and economic policy studies, weighs in with this answer:
It would indeed be wise for all those committed to major health reform to be cautious as they contemplate how to advance their agenda after the election.
One lesson congressional Democrats should bear in mind is that ignoring the need for bipartisanship after a triumphant election is likely to doom reform. After Bill Clinton was talked into snubbing Republicans in 1993 his seemingly invincible health reform steamroller ground to a halt. There are plenty of areas for bipartisanship next year. Despite the brickbats of the election to and fro, there is actually deep bipartisan support for restructuring the tax treatment of health care to widen coverage – with over $200 billion in tax subsidies available, as John Goodman reminds us. There are also several bipartisan bills already introduced, drawing together strong liberals and conservatives, that would give legislative waivers to states to use existing and any new money far more creatively and flexibly to expand coverage at little or no extra cost.
Both these bipartisan approaches make a lot of sense when we face huge deficits and difficult economic times. The election won’t change that situation or the merits of working across the aisle.
Read the rest of his answer and the other responses from John Goodman of the National Center for Policy Analysis, former Health and Human Services secretary Donna Shalala, and former Speaker Newt Gingrich of the Center for Health Transformation.