By Jon Keller

BOSTON (CBS) – Twenty-three years ago this summer, the Clinton administration’s effort to establish universal health insurance was pronounced dead.

The cause of death was a toxic combination of bureaucratic excess, political partisanship, ideological extremism, and the complex nature of the health care system itself.

Seven years ago, Obamacare was signed into law. It has provided health care coverage to more than 20 million people who didn’t have it before.

But it has wilted under the weight of bureaucratic excess, political partisanship, ideological extremism, and the complex nature of the health care system itself.

And now, here we are again, confronted with a dog’s dinner of a health care reform plan that reeks of bureaucratic excess, political partisanship and ideological extremism, while lacking any apparent understanding of the complex nature of the health care system.

At this sorry moment in time, it’s instructive to recall the alleged goals of health care reform, more or less the same now as they were back in the early 1990’s – to get people covered, so we could rid ourselves of free riders using the emergency room as their fallback and wipe out the horrific sight of people left bankrupt and hopeless by getting sick without coverage; to bring soaring health care costs under control; to promote healthier lives for Americans.

To the enduring shame of our political system and ourselves, we’ve consistently made a hash of it.

Greedy stakeholders have resisted efforts to spread the burdens and lower costs; demagogic partisans have snubbed valid ideas from the other side; cowardly pols have failed to lead.

It’s all a reminder, as the GOP plan heads toward a well-deserved death, that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

  1. In your rush, Jon, to claim that 20 million received health care that they never before had may or may not be an accurate statistic, but I am not going to challenge that part of your statement.

    I am going dispute your failure to address the number of people who LOST their health insurance because of Obamacare. Remember that bit about keeping your health care system if you liked it?

    And what about the a-la-carte plans that allowed people to select the coverages they actually required? They went the way of the Democrats in Congress in 2010, 2012, 2014, and 2016.

    I suspect the “net” number of additions to the set of those having insurance is a lot less than the +20 million that is claimed.

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