Will health reform disappoint the public?

In theory, President Obama will look like a hero to health reform supporters if the final bill satisfies supporters. In practice, however, the public may end up being disappointed by the realities of health reform, suggests a new article in insider Capitol Hill newspaper Politico.

For example, few in the public understand that the much-bruited public option will only be available to those who don't get health coverage from their employer. Even for those people, the plan doesn't begin until 2013, a wait that can seem like an eternity to those needing medical care now.

Americans who expect their insurance premiums to go down are likely to be unsatisfied, too, as reform efforts are aimed only at slowing down the rate of healthcare cost increases.

Then, there's the very risky $400 billion Obama proposes to cut out of the Medicare budget, which he says can be covered painlessly if leaders cut down fraud and waste. But if Medicare cuts lower reimbursement too much, it will gut the ranks of providers willing to participate in the program, which should mobilize the powerful senior bloc to vote against the current administration.

Finally, there's the matter of how the various reform measures handle the gap between premiums for young people and seniors. While both the House and the Senate are proposing to limit the differences--lowering premiums for seniors--observers suggest that such rules could dramatically raise premiums for the young as insurers spread out costs.

To learn more about political "gotchas" in reform:
- read this Politico piece

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