Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Health care tsunami

Amazing what a Democratic sweep of Congress will do. Suddenly, everyone is talking about health care.

On Monday, the insurance industry outlined a plan to provide insurance coverage to the 47 million uninsured Americans. They propose using tax credits and government programs to buy the insurance, at an estimated cost of $300 billion over 10 years.

And yesterday, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty -- facing a Democrat-controlled state legislature -- said he wants to extend health insurance to all children, a startling about-face for a man who threw people off of MinnesotaCare in his first term as he struggled to close the state's budget deficit without raising taxes.

Call me cynical, but do you suppose either of those two things would have occurred had the Republicans kept control?

No matter. Pawlenty's willingness to reconsider long-held positions is one reason I said it wouldn't be a disaster if he were re-elected. And with businesses, the insurance industry and prominent Republicans all suddenly producing plans to improve health coverage, it's going to be very hard for opponents to claim a solution -- however partial -- is impossible or socialist or the like.

There are a lot of questions to be answered, notably cost controls and the increasing shifting of costs from employer to employee. But that's what debate is for. The discussion looks to be healthy, and likely to lead to something productive. Finally.

Score one for divided government.

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