Sunday, March 21, 2010

Healthcare Reform: Endgame?

Finally. We seem to moving to closure on the seemingly unending national debate over healthcare in the U.S.. Tomorrow, Sunday, March 21, 2010, in an unusual Sunday session, the U.S. Congress will put healthcare reform to the vote. I predict that the Democrats will get the necessary votes and the legislation will pass. Then it’s over and we can all go home, right?

We may all go home but this is far from over. Let’s not forget that august body, the U.S. Senate which would still need to put its imprimatur on the proposed legislation. The Republicans are preparing a desperate, last ditch defense there that would make John Wayne’s Alamo look like a tea party (and I don't mean the one in Boston Harbor nor the current anti-Republican/Democrat Party) If the Senate can’t pass the legislation before the spring recess we could be in this state of affairs for a while longer. (Am I the only one who’s reminded of Waiting for Godot?) Various governors and state legislatures are promising to challenge the constitutionality of government mandated healthcare reform. Their positions are based on the old states’ rights arguments. (Somebody should tell those guys that those arguments didn’t work very well for the Confederacy.)

CNBC’s Patti Domm wrote a piece ( ) yesterday about the potential short term negative impact of healthcare reform on stack prices. I’m still convinced that most people still unsure about what healthcare reform means for business, especially in the life sciences sector. I’m excluding the Republicans and Tea Party members from this because they’re just opposed in general to the whole idea.

Tomorrow, we may have the unusual situation of most of the country sitting around their televisions, computers, PDA’s, whatever to follow the final debates in the Congress. I can’t wait to see the audience ratings. (Another prediction, they may rival the recent Olympics.)

After all that has gone on before now, the present moment seems somewhat anticlimactic. If the past is any guide even if the legislation passes not much may change immediately. But, changes will be put into play that combined with the law of unintended consequences will change many things. (Nobody ever thought that when Congress put through a minor piece of legislation for something called a 401k plan would become the primary financial tool for retirement planning and practically shut down employer funded pensions as generations knew them.) What will we wake up to on Monday morning if healthcare reform passes?

No one knows what the future holds for healthcare reform. I can predict passage but that’s just one person’s opinion. But, passage is just one point in time. It’s binary – yes or no. What happens after that is much more complicated and the stakes are very high. Let’s see what happens.

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Contributed by Guy de Lastin

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