The word "reform" seems to have gotten lost in the rancorous debate over public options (a red herring for the Republicans) and abortion prohibitions. NYT columnist Dave Leonhardt tries to look at the bigger picture:
I think it's important to step back and understand precisely what health experts mean when they argue for reforming the delivery system. It is not simply about bending the curve, or slowing the growth, of Medicare's projected spending. It's also about preventing thousands of needless deaths from hospital infections. It's about making sure you get the best cancer treatment, even when that treatment is not the most profitable one. It's about keeping health costs from denying most families a decent pay increase, as has happened in recent years. aking the medical system more efficient is, in short, about saving lives and giving Americans a long overdue raise. It is arguably the single most important step that the federal government could take to improve people's lives.
Leonhardt doesn't have much good to say about the House version. But the Senate bill, at least the one passed by Finance Committee, seems to be the best bet for legitimate reform.
Jonathan Gruber, an economist who helped devise the universal coverage plan in Massachusetts, says the Senate's version of health reform does considerably more to control costs than he expected. A panel of experts led by Mark McClellan, a doctor and economist who used to run Medicare (and now happens to work at the Brookings Institution), concluded that the Senate Finance bill would help "slow long-term spending growth while building the high-value health care system our nation urgently needs."