Minority Leader John Boehner talks of ‘Armageddon’ if health care reform is signed into law. Even though the legislation is scored not just as ‘revenue neutral’ but as actually reducing the deficit. (Contrast that with the trillions in war spending and tax-cuts-for-the-rich that Republicans enacted without any effort to pay for either one, and the gigantic deficits that resulted.)

Will it be Armageddon if the 45,000 people now estimated to die each year for lack of coverage don’t die?

Armageddon because we’ll be inching toward the kinds of coverage they have in all the other wealthy nations of the world?

Armageddon because we’ll be stressing preventive care?

Or because we’ll be launching a slew of pilot programs – including pilot programs for tort reform – that start the process of building a more efficient health care system?

Armageddon because illness-caused bankruptcies will plummet?

Armageddon that insurers will have to pay out 80% to 85% of their premiums (depending on the number of insureds covered) in health care reimbursements?

Armageddon because people will no longer have to worry about losing coverage if they switch jobs?

Armageddon that, as Republicans suggested we should, we’ll now be sending investigators posing as patients to help root out fraud?

Armageddon that consumers will have more carriers competing for their business?

I can totally see how thoughtful people would have written this legislation differently. There is endless legitimate discussion to be had over the best approaches, constrained though those approaches must be by political reality.

But Armageddon?

To my mind (let alone truly world-class minds like Bill Clinton’s and Barack Obama’s), the bill that passed last night is a vast improvement over the status quo.

A government take-over? (As in, Keep the government’s hands off Medicare!) Death panels? Armageddon?

It is really scary to see the crowd incited this way.*

It does not lead to good policy, good health, or good will.

The truth is, yesterday was a wonderful day for America. This enormous freight train, frozen in its tracks for so long, has begun to roll. Now, with enlightened regulation and further legislation to spur competition and innovation, we may actually get somewhere.

*When I see angry demonstrators (or even just angry Republican Congresspersons) desperate to ‘stop the bill,’ I remember their equal urgency to ‘stop the count’ of Florida ballots. Yet, would it really have been so terrible for America if we had had Gore instead of Bush? Really?


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