Reform, in a nutshell

REFORM, IN A NUTSHELL…. A couple of weeks ago, Paul Krugman noted that health care reform is complicated, but it’s not that complicated. What’s reform all about? “The essence is really quite simple: regulation of insurers, so that they can’t cherry-pick only the healthy, and subsidies, so that all Americans can afford insurance,” Krugman said. He added, “[W]hat it means for the individual will be that insurers can’t reject you, and if your income is relatively low, the government will help pay your premiums.”

It wasn’t identical, but President Obama defined reform in largely the same way at his town-hall event this afternoon.

“For all the chatter and the yelling and the shouting and the noise, what you need to know is this: If you don’t have health insurance, you will finally have quality, affordable options, once we pass reform. If you do have health insurance, we will make sure that no insurance company, or a government bureaucrat, gets between you and the care that you need.”

The president went on, to applause. “And we will do this without adding to our deficit over the next decade, largely by cutting out the waste and insurance company giveaways in Medicare that aren’t making any of our seniors healthier,” he said.

Three sentences. If you don’t have coverage, you’ll get coverage. If you have coverage, insurers won’t be able to screw you over. And we can achieve this without increasing the deficit. Everything else relates to mechanical details to get us from here to there.

Perhaps the White House could have come up with this bottom-line/nutshell formulation a bit sooner.