Health reform process noisy, confusing

Sometimes, when I read the reports from Capitol Hill, I think that our legislators sound like kids in a candy store. So long have some of them wanted to make changes in the way our health system works, they must be truly giddy that our new president supports major reforms.

The thing is, I doubt the atmosphere of carefree abandon--OK, I'm exaggerating a bit--does much to promote the health reform cause. If I have the sense that many legislators are grasping madly at reform ideas, sometimes without fully understanding their implications, I'm probably not the only one.

The truth is, I think a large percentage of Americans, including those reading this publication, have a hefty list of changes they'd like to make to our healthcare system. The problem is, other than agreeing that the U.S. needs to broaden access to reach essentially everyone, there's little agreement on how we should go.

Given this lack of consensus, it seems to me that many Senators and Representatives are floundering. They seem to be reacting to just about every sensible-sounding proposal as though it were a life raft, grabbing them quickly and hoping that they'll float. Even President Obama has been guilty of this, reacting with jubilation to the big "$2 trillion in savings" announcement first and then looking hard at what he'd endorsed. And in this melee, he's the conservative one. Others aren't even taking a second look.

Of course, any undertaking as complex as health reform is going to involve a mind-boggling array of ideas, a lot of pushing and shoving and a lot of mistakes. So I sympathize with those who are tasked with writing what could be some of the most consequential legislation since the New Deal.

In the meantime, though, it would do my heart good if some of the party's leaders urged a bit of a quiet period while key members worked out what they'd really like to do. After all, transparency is good, but it can be overdone. - Anne