Rumor has it that there’s a presidential election going on. You wouldn’t know that, would you, if not for the constant, shrill, obsessive calls for change by both major parties 24 hours a day. Part of me doesn’t understand the fuss. Change is indeed coming, if for no other reason than that we live in a malleable world powered by evolution’s twin pistons of decay and rebirth. Don’t want change? You’re in the wrong universe, bub.
Our cover story by Contributing Editor John Carroll looks at what to expect under a President Obama or a President McCain in the next four years. Surprise! Expect more regulation. Expect more oversight. Expect (dang it!) change.
John’s story notes that those demanding health care reform predict that this election “offers an unprecedented opportunity to move from the generic change they all call for to a specific, nonpartisan agenda that can gain swift legislative approval.” The idea is that there ought to be plenty of areas where most of the stakeholders can agree to improve things, even if, as so often happens, no consensus is reached on a transcendent restructuring of the whole system.
As I write this at the end of September, I’m astonished and depressed by the failure of Congress to act decisively to deal with the economic crisis. We may have had more crisis than we can digest, and it would not surprise me if no major health care reform were enacted. As I’ve noted before, any effective reform would also hurt a lot of companies, and Washington is nothing if not hospitable to lobbyists, who long ago replaced journalists as the fourth estate.
And if no meaningful reform is enacted? A study by the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions says that the number of U.S. citizens who will travel abroad to get health care on the cheap, while relatively low now, is likely to increase eightfold by 2010 — just in time for the next congressional elections.