Now that it is ending, an assessment on George W. Bush’s presidency on health care is due, but it would be too depressing to write.
The writer would be have a tough decision about whether to focus on inaction–the lack of health reform, coverage expansion, or even a national HMO Patients Bill of Rights that he promised–or on what he did do–from the SCHIP vetoes, to the attacks on Medicaid through the waiver process, to the major subsidies to promote HSAs and high-deductible plans. The President claims Medicare Part D as a success, and while it has helped some seniors, other low-income seniors on Medicare actually pay more now, and there were too many bad policies and precedents to balance out, from the provisions with the purpose of privatizing Medicare, to the explicit bar on negotiating with the drug companies for a better price. It’s certainly a open field of work for President-elect Obama.
There should be a special part of the report that would focus on what he actually wanted to do, bu didn’t get around to. His broader plan to move people away from group coverage and into the an even-more-deregulated individual market was astonishingly adopted by Senator McCain as a whole, and served a ripe target for the Obama campaign. Hopefully some of those ideas ended with the McCain campaign, and now with the Bush presidency.