Ezra Klein wants to "put the health-care bill into perspective."
It's time for some real talk on health-care reform. By the standards of what Congress generally does in a year, this bill is very big. But by the standards of the health-care system, it's not that big at all. It goes two-thirds of the way on covering the uninsured. It makes a courageous, but insufficient, start on cost control. This is the beginning, not the end, of reform. [...]
So that's really what we're talking about here -- a health-care expansion that's a slight fraction of overall spending. Let's go even further: It's an expansion that most people won't notice in 10 years. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the Senate bill will change the insurance of about 40 million people by 2019, about 30 million of whom would have been uninsured. The other 10 million will come from the employer or individual markets in search of more affordable options. About 8 percent of the country will still be uninsured, though that falls to 6 percent if you exclude illegal immigrants. Ninety percent of Americans will be exactly where they'd otherwise be. [...]
But changing the growth of the health-care system is a lot harder than just cutting a few dollars here or there. It requires us to change how doctors practice medicine, or how much medicine people buy or how much they need -- or maybe all three. We're doing a lot on health-care reform this year, but we're not doing that much. And we shouldn't fool ourselves into thinking otherwise.
Putting aside the fact that this bill is anything but robust, the legislation, in whatever form it passes, won't go into effect until 2014.