Another Democrat senator has joined New York’s Charles Schumer in publicly criticizing the party’s handling of healthcare during the Obama presidency. Retiring Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa said this week that the Affordable Care Act was a mistake.
But Harkin cited reasons that were very different from those cited by Schumer, who said Democrats "put all our focus on the wrong problem – healthcare reform."
Schumer added that he had opposed the timing
of the healthcare vote but was overruled by other Democrats.
In an interview with The Hill,
Harkin said Congress should have enacted a single-payer healthcare system in 2009, when Democrats had a huge majority in the House and 60 votes in the Senate.
Harkin said he wonders if in hindsight, the law was made too complicated in order to assuage the political concerns of a few moderate Democrats who are no longer in Congress.
"We had the power to do it in a way that would have simplified healthcare, made it more efficient and made it less costly and we didn’t do it," the Iowa Democrat said. "So, I look back and say we should have either done it the correct way or not done anything at all.
"What we did is we muddled through and we got a system that is complex, convoluted, needs probably some corrections, and still rewards the insurance companies extensively," he added.
Harkin said Congress should have enacted a single-payer system or included a "public option" measure that would provide the insured with access to government-run healthcare programs which compete with private insurance providers.
"We had the votes to do that and we blew it," Harkin told The Hill, adding that Obamacare is "really complicated."
According to The New York Times, of the 60 Democrat senators
who voted for Obamacare in 2010, 28 "are no longer in office."
Ed Morrisey wondered if Harkin "really believes that the backlash against Obamacare comes from a general sense that government should control even more of the health choices of Americans than it arrogated in the unpopular bill."
Although a single-payer system might not have required the same web portal that "HHS couldn’t get right with $400 million and a three year head start, the incompetence demonstrated over the past year-plus would still be afflicting Americans in even greater ways if the agency had to take over all those moving parts, rather than just the enrollment piece," he added.
Harkin is right that Obamacare is extremely "complicated," but that stems from an ill-considered government attempt to take over a massive industry, according to Morrisey.
"That’s not an argument for government to take over the rest of the industry; it’s an argument that government shouldn’t have taken over any of it, even apart from the obvious lessons of HHS incompetence in what they did get to control," he concluded.
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