Tom Daschle: Health care reform will gain support, just as Medicare and Social Security did
While preparing to become U.S. health and human services secretary, former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle received an email delivering bad news: His younger brother had been diagnosed with the same type of brain tumor that claimed the life of U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy.
His brother’s diagnosis was a jarring reality that solidified the former South Dakota senator’s support of federal health care reform. President Obama signed major health care reform legislation on March 23, 2010, shortly after Daschle had withdrawn his nomination to lead the Department of Health and Human Services.
|Former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle says he’s “quite confident” the federal health care reform law will not be repealed.|
Daschle, a Democrat who now is a senior policy adviser at the DLA Piper law firm and a senior distinguished fellow at the Center for American Progress, recently spoke with InsuranceQuotes.com about what the health care reform law means to consumers. Daschle is the author of the book “Getting It Done: How Obama and Congress Finally Broke the Stalemate to Make Way for Health Care Reform,” which was released in October 2010.
InsuranceQuotes.com: The health care reform debate continues to rage, with lawmakers arguing about repealing the law. What do you think will happen?
Tom Daschle: I’m quite confident that the law will not be repealed, in part because the president would certainly have the votes necessary to sustain a veto if the legislation were to get that far. But beyond that, I think that the more people hear about the law, the more inclined they are going to be to support it.
There is a significant percentage of people who oppose the current law because it doesn’t go far enough. And so I’m quite confident that over time, as the education continues and the awareness of the benefits continues to be clearly spelled out, there will be growing support just as there was with Medicare and Social Security in the past.
InsuranceQuotes.com: Why do you think so many members of Congress are vehemently opposed to the law?
Daschle: In large measure, the single most critical … divide has to do with the role the government plays in insurance. There are those who think really don’t subscribe to any government role for social protection, and there are those who believe that this bill involves too much government intrusion.
InsuranceQuotes.com: Under the new law, what could go wrong with health care and how might these problems be prevented?
Daschle: One of the biggest problems is the one involving the court challenge having to do with the individual requirement that you have to purchase insurance. I’m troubled by those challenges because, tied in with the belief that health care is a moral right, I think there is a moral obligation to contribute to your own good health in as many ways as possible, including paying for your health if an illness strikes and doing all you can to prevent an illness by taking care of yourself.
There are those who believe the government should not be requiring health insurance, even though we require it for drivers and homeowners. I think that’s a mistake. And I think that could undermine universal coverage.
Unless everyone pays in, it’s usually the sick people who stay out. And if the sick stay out and have no coverage once they get care, that’s an extraordinary expense to insurance companies and policyholders. That would destroy the universal coverage model at the heart of health care reform.
InsuranceQuotes.com: What would you say to consumers who are still skeptical, or think “I’m happy with my coverage — this isn’t for me, it’s for the ‘other guy’”?
Daschle: The first thing I would say is that if we do nothing, their costs for health insurance will more than double or more within the next 10 years. If you’re content with health insurance today, will you still be content when costs more than double and quality continues to decrease?
Oftentimes, Americans are not aware of the degree of exposure they have to extraordinary health costs, because they’re not aware of all the fine print in some insurance policies with regard to the coverage. So, oftentimes they are left much more vulnerable than they understand themselves to be.
My main argument is the status quo is untenable from cost, accessibility and quality.