As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Saturday, October 03, 2009

If At Frist You Don't Succeed

Does anyone alive believe this man?

Bill Frist on Health Bill: I'd Vote For It

Or so the former Senate Republican Leader, a surgeon who has written a new book on health care, told me a few minutes ago in an interview.

Were he still in the Senate, "I would end up voting for it," he said. "As leader, I would take heat for it. ... That's what leadership is all about."

It's quite an impressive crop of retired Republicans claiming they would vote for the health care bill. Why, you could almost build a direct correlation between the propensity for Republican support and whether or not they are in any position to support it!

Funny how that goes.

Frist does appear somewhat sincere later on in the interview:

While Frist believes that the bill will pass, he worries that the Obama Administration and Congress have not given enough attention to what happens next: the implementation. The first few years are likely to be rough, he predicts. States will be struggling to set up new marketplaces for insurance coverage, their medicaid rolls will grow, taxes will go up, and consumers will not yet see the benefits. "The Republicans will go wild," using the start-up difficulties as a tool for fundraising and for making their case in the next election, Frist says. "In the Congress, nobody's thinking about that." His advice for the Obama Administration: "Stay nimble," and be prepared to make adjustments as difficulties arise. (emphasis mine)

If you thought debunking the lies about what the health care bill would potentially accomplish was fun, wait until you get to the part where conservatives nitpick and distort every misstep or half-step or just plain old step in the process, and spin it as proof that Obama meant to take over health care, the planet and your children after all. Consequent their stint as defenders of Medicare, Republicans will become defenders of Medicaid, and go on and on about long lines and expanding rolls. And they'll ask what Americans got for all those billions they spent on health care.

This will be difficult to counter. Most of the legislation doesn't go into effect until 2013, partially because of start-up time, but more as a pure cost-reduction play within the budget window. Especially because most of that time will be spent climbing out of the recession, which could lead to more loss of health care benefits if unemployment continues and COBRA help runs out at the end of the stimulus package, the White House will have to suffer through four years of "where's the health care reform" and people calling the whole thing a waste before the implementation even begins. It wasn't a smart way to save a buck.

I don't know if the Administration is thinking about this and preparing for it or not, but they haven't been prepared for many of the right-wing freak-outs thus far. There's no question that they will seek to label health care reform a failure before the ink is dry from Obama's bill-signing ceremony. Somebody might want to heed Bill Frist's warning.

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