ObamaCare author Tom Harkin: Health law is ‘really complicated’
By Alexander Bolton
The Hill, December 3, 2014
Sen. Tom Harkin, one of the co-authors of the Affordable Care Act, now thinks Democrats may have been better off not passing it at all and holding out for a better bill.
The Iowa Democrat who chairs the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, laments the complexity of legislation the Senate passed five years ago.
He wonders in hindsight whether the law was made overly complicated to satisfy the political concerns of a few Democratic centrists who have since left Congress.
“We had the power to do it in a way that would have simplified healthcare, made it more efficient and made it less costly and we didn’t do it,” Harkin told The Hill. “So I look back and say we should have either done it the correct way or not done anything at all.
“What we did is we muddled through and we got a system that is complex, convoluted, needs probably some corrections and still rewards the insurance companies extensively,” he added.
Harkin said the sweeping healthcare reform bill included important reforms such as preventing insurance companies from discriminating against people with pre-existing conditions and keeping young adults on their parents’ health insurance plans until age 26.
But he believes the nation might have been better off if Democrats didn’t bow to political pressure and settle for a policy solution he views as inferior to government-provided health insurance.
He believes Congress should have enacted “single-payer right from the get-go or at least put a public option would have simplified a lot.”
“We had the votes to do that and we blew it,” he said.
Harkin and other liberals are now faced with the bitter irony that the centrists tried to placate five years ago by crafting a labyrinthine market-based reform are now all out of the Senate.
“So as a result we’ve got this complicated thing out there called the Affordable Care Act,” he said.
He believes Congress should have moved legislation in the first 100 days after Obama’s inauguration, which drew over a million people to the National Mall on a frigid January day.
“There’s this old saying, ‘If you have the votes, vote. If you don’t, talk.’ We had the votes but we talked,” he said.
By Don McCanne, MD