Must Read From David Leonhardt: Why Health Care Reform Matters, or How the GOP/Lieberman hate America Edition.

In today’s NYT, Leonhardt — one of the few really good economics reporters out there right now — writes about the “innovation gap” induced by the catastrophic failure that is the American health care “system” as it stands.  In doing so, he documents, once again, how the modern Republican party is, in essence, a traitor to the American dream.

In essence, Leonhardt is reporting about the largely unmentioned elephant in the room:  absent comprehensive reform of health care, the terror of losing or of failing to secure adequate insurance makes the US labor market increasingly rigid.  As Leonhardt reports:

It is impossible to know how much economic damage these distortions are causing, but they clearly aren’t good. Economic research suggests that more than 1.5 million workers who would otherwise have switched jobs fail to do so every year because of fears about health insurance. Some of them would have moved to companies where they could have contributed more, and others would have started their own businesses.

…Eric Schmidt, Google’s chief executive, told me, “There clearly are people who choose to stay in their jobs due to the fact that they don’t have insurance portability.” Just consider the economic research showing that people married to someone with health insurance are more likely to work at small companies than people who aren’t so lucky.

Leonhardt does a good job of mapping in cartoon fashion what we could aim for at this point in the health care debate, quoting my MIT colleague John Gruber saying “Take the Senate on cost control and the House on affordability …and you’ve the best possible bill.”

Certainly, the central moral and social rationale for health care reform is the fact that too many Americans sicken, go bankrupt, and die for lack of access to care.

But what makes this article at once so obvious and so necessary is the light it shed on this fact:  the reason we need to get going on the health care bill now, and then defy the “once every twenty years” meme for improving what we get, is that the wealth and hence power of the America our children will inhabit depends on real, ultimately transformative changes in how Americans get covered and cared for.

So the next time you read statements like this, ask yourself why the Republicans in Congress (and too many outside it) hate America so.

In any event. read the article.  It’s worth your time.

Image:  “A Proper Family Re-Union.” This immediate post-Civil War cartoon shows Satan welcoming Benedict Arnold and Jefferson Davis to Hell. Artist unknown, 1865.

Explore posts in the same categories: Economic follies, good writing, journalism, Medicine, political follies, Republican knavery, Uncategorized

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