National Health Reform the main event

The decibel level of the Washington health reform debate is going up rapidly.

President Obama has put health reform at the top of his domestic agenda, right next to saving and strengthening the economy.

The challenge is how to deal with the main problem faced by most Americans the staggering cost of health care, while at the same time dealing with covering the uninsured and our quality / safety concern.

Two ideas that have often been raised — but just as often said to be out of bounds are front and center in the debate now.

They are (1) setting a limit on the amount of health care benefits that can be received tax-free, and (2) mandating that everyone have health insurance (and subsidizing the cost of health insurance for those who cannot afford it).

The tax cap (or taxing excessive health benefits, if you want to call it that) will force people toward more cost-effective health insurance plans, and will raise tax revenue that can pay for the subsidies for those who need them.

Mandating that everyone have health insurance (with subsidies for those who cannot pay themselves) is the surest way to make certain that everyone (or almost everyone) has coverage.

I have long been in favor of both of these ideas and they seem to be supported by growing numbers in Congress.

The next few weeks / months will be filled with rhetoric and passion. Let's get on with it.

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