The end of the beginning
As the saying goes, we have arrived at the "end of the beginning" of health reform. The final legislation has yet to be drafted between the House and Senate. My guess is that we will see some limited form of expanded coverage that will leave no one completely satisfied. Conservatives may see any change as radical and liberals may see it as inadequate.
That short-term political outcome hardly matters. Most of the proposed legislation does not take effect until 2013 or beyond. This leaves plenty of time for more progress--or the opposite. If the balance of power changes in Congress, any current legislation could be reversed.
However, that genie may be hard to put back in the bottle. Health-care costs are running out of sight and both employers and their employees will be unable to foot the bill much longer. Consequently, the federal government will become the major force in health care finance and delivery.
Over the next decade, health care will remain atop everyone's political agenda. We are just starting that long journey.