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Back to basics

Don't worry. This post isn't going to be a long, or even a short, explication of the health-care bill. It's just going to link to my colleague Alec MacGillis's short explanation of the health-care bill.

I'm reminded to do this by a conversation I had with a family friend the other night. My friend is smart and well-read. She keeps up with the papers and actually works in the medical industry. But she doesn't know much about this bill. And we're not talking the excise tax or the exchanges here. The basics. Preexisting conditions. Subsidies for the uninsured. The nuts and bolts of what the bill does.

Newspapers, blogs, magazines, television programs, and every other form of informational (or putatively informational) media suffers from much the same deficiency: They speak primarily to people who have been following along. It's not that they don't publish articles outlining the basic thrust of the legislation. It's that those articles aren't on the front of the page, and those segments don't lead the program, day after day after day. People tuning in late, or who missed the back-to-basics day, are thus in some trouble.

But in the age of links, there's little excuse for running a debate like this without making the basic information easily accessible. So here's Alec's piece. It's as comprehensive and clear a rundown as you'll find in under 1,000 words. Next time someone asks you what this bill does, forward it along to them. And if they want more, there's always my "Health reform for beginners" category.

By Ezra Klein  |  January 7, 2010; 8:30 AM ET
Categories:  Health Reform For Beginners  
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Comments

Nice reminder to listen to some Billy Bragg today, like maybe one of the live recordings at http://www.archive.org/details/BillyBragg. Thanks Ezra!

Posted by: JonathanTE | January 7, 2010 9:26 AM | Report abuse

Now that the Mayo Clinic has stopped accepting Medicare in AZ, isn't that clear evidence that healthcare for seniors is compromised by this crazy bill? Obama promised that no one would lose their healthcare....well, he lied again! There will hell to pay in November. 2010, Without Doubt, Vote Them Out!

Posted by: my4653 | January 7, 2010 10:23 AM | Report abuse

Be sure to tell your friend that it was the health industry that originally came up with the so-called Grand Bargain of an individual mandate in exchange for no pre-ex and community rating. Ka-ching!

Posted by: bmull | January 7, 2010 11:46 AM | Report abuse

I wish I thought simple explanations that would help people understand health reform better. They would not. There are a lot of blogs and articles out there that explain what is really in these bills (some of which I have written), but people -- even well educated ones -- don't take the time to read them. If they do read something like your post above, you get the two comments above that simply repeat the rant about single payer would solve everything or insurance companies are bad.

There are dozens of really helpful proposals in these bills that would fund community health centers, help train more physicians, give poor adult males access to Medicaid, help kids stay on their parents' plans to age 26, etc. etc. But what do we hear about? The public option, single payer, abortion -- that's about it. Making things simpler is a good goal, but getting people to actually do the homework to understand reform is much harder.

Posted by: LindaB1 | January 7, 2010 7:42 PM | Report abuse

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