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Nightly Business Report: The Politics of Health Care Reform (March 29, 2010)

Commentary-The Politics of Health Care Reform | Nightly Business Report | PBS:

Monday, March 29, 2010

SUSIE GHARIB: With historic health care reforms now the law, tonight's commentator says the long debate was pure politics. He's Brad Delong, professor of economics at the University of California Berkeley.

BRAD DELONG, ECONOMICS PROF., UNIV. OF CALIFORNIA BERKELEY: Last week, President Obama signed health care reform -- the patient protection and affordable care act -- the biggest change in how our health care financing system works since the establishment of Medicare and Medicaid in the 1960s. When the provisions of this new law are fully phased in, individuals and small businesses will no longer have to bargain with HMOs and health insurance companies from positions of weakness relative to big firms and their employees. Everybody will be able to use the equivalent of a big firm's benefit department to do their bargaining for them. People who switch jobs will no longer have to worry they won't be able to get or afford coverage in their new job. And people will no longer have to worry about being dropped by their insurance companies either because they are sick and so expensive to cover or because somebody made a mistake on a form 10 years ago. Why then, is there so much political excitement and division? Aren't these things pretty much everyone can agree on? The answer is yes, they are things pretty much everyone can agree on. In fact one of Republican presidential hopeful Tim Pawlenty's strategists told the "Atlantic Monthly's" Marc Ambinder last week that Obamacare is Romneycare, that Obamacare is in its essence the plan Republican Mitt Romney proposed back in 2004 and persuaded the Massachusetts state legislature to pass in 2006. Why then, is everybody so excited and divided? Because the people making the excitement and division are politicians -- and politicians hope that there are votes in the issue for them somewhere. I'm Brad Delong.