The AP’s Matt Perrone today reported that many wise-head observers believe — with the sag-tacular foreign-exchange rates, the troop-levels-concerns in Iraq, and the general malaise of the economy (and perhaps the electorate, as well) — truly substantial Health Care Reform in the U.S. may have to wait until very near the end of 2009 — if it is addressed at all, by the new Administration.
I think that is only half-right.
While I agree that 2008 has likely been a “year of heat” (with pre-election muck-raking and speech-a-rific “hearings” before Congressional committees) — I am more than hopeful that 2009 will be a year of light — the light of meaningful, fundamental Health Care reform, in the United States. [See a sidebar-article, from earlier this Summer, at right.]
I think there will be tremendous populist pressure on the coming double-Democratic majorities in Congress — and, very-likely, in the White House — to address the fact that the richest nation on Earth should not subject her voters to third-world health-care processes. Nearly 50 million Americans cannot pay for health-care — and have no insurance — a very substantial proportion of those are children. Children whose health care needs will be far more extensive, and expensive, if they do not soon start receiving some fixed levels of preventative health-care intervention. I think the electorate is going to demand this — concurrently with the phased-withdrawal of our troops in Iraq — I see these as co-equal priorities — second only to reinvigorating the US economic-engine. I think populism will rule 2009 (consider the case of one very-green Alaskan governor’s sudden, and apparently wide, appeal).
[Now, should the highly-unlikely occur in November — I think even Sen. McCain has made far too many promises, to get away without at least trying — on this front — and there really is no plausible-scenario in which he won’t have a Democratic Congress pushing the issue — at least making noises about doing something — in this regard.]
So — I remain convinced that any pharmaceutical CEO who believes the AP spin — that this will all go “poof“, in the middle of the night of 2008 electioneering — like Cinderella’s coach and four — is going to wake up the next morning — to a very different sort of neck-tie party, in mid-2009.