But what kind of change?

Republican legislators are viewing President Obama’s invitation to the White House with skepticism. I don’t doubt the President’s sincerity in wanting to take into consideration and even adopt their best ideas. As frustrating as that may be to some of his supporters, he is a consensus builder and organizer, and that is who he is.

But that doesn’t mean the Republicans shouldn’t be worried. Because I don’t think the President is going to give up on his proposals. And because the Congressional Republican leadership doesn’t have a comprehensive solution to the health care crisis. The spotlight that the President has put on alternative reforms has shown them to be ineffective, but ones that provide less security and stability, not more.

Change can be scary, especially when there’s an entire political party feeding that fear and mistrust. Consumers don’t like the status quo, but it can be seen to be comforting compared to the unknown.
If it’s a fight between a complex reform with both benefits and burdens (and any reform of health care is going to be complex) with the status quo, the status quo has a distinct advantage.

President Obama wants to make this a fight between the change you want, versus the change you don’t. Reformers make the point–correctly–that the status quo isn’t an option, since the current health system is unravelling.

The summit will counterpose not change vs. the status quo, but what kind of change is appropriate. And the comparison isn’t close:
* Jonathan Cohn of the New Republica analyzes the Republican plan for health reform in their “Roadmap for America’s Future,” a much more radical privatization of Medicare than people realize.
* Ezra Klein of the Washington Post examines the Republican ideas that are already in the health reform bills
* Greg Sargent at the Plum Line shows how the GOP response so far is a rejection of bald-faced rejection of any negotiation or compromise.

Other links of note for health advocates:

* E.J. Dionne in the Washington Post reports how Rep. Inslee (D-WA) has advice to Democrats to “finish the kitchen.”

* Duke Helfand at the Los Angeles Times explores the scam of so-called “discount health plans” and new efforts (which we at Health Access California are active in) to regulate them. This was one of several articles that led the LA Times Blog to wonder if any coverage will be there for you when you need it.

* Dean Baker at Talking Points Memo breaks down the initiative victory in Oregon that passed progressive taxes in order to prevent significant budget cuts.

FYI, I’ll be on a panel at the Insure the Uninsured Project conference this Wednesday, February 10th, in Sacramento. Should be an interesting conference, with the mix of anticipation and uncertainty around reform right now.

Health Access California promotes quality, affordable health care for all Californians.

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