It is clear that the new Democratic majority in Congress will revisit the abomination known as Medicare Part D along with the rest of a health care system that subsidizes the HMO and drug industries while leaving 46 million American uninsured.
The Republicans will point to new analyses that show that the Medicare prescription drug program is costing less than they predicted (a case of manipulating expectations?) and that total health costs in 2005 rose at the slowest rate in six years.
Well, that's just how they count in Washington, where three consecutive years of slower growth in spending are supposed to masquerade as progress. A slower rate of growth tells you nothing in absolute terms, like the fact that health care spending in America now amounts to 16 percent of the Gross Domestic Product, or $2 trillion a year higher than ever.
It isn't just Democrats who are trying to do something. The outgoing Republican governor of Massachusetts and, yesterday, the re-elected governor of Collie-fawn-eeya have proposed requiring everyone to carry health insurance. Those who couldn't afford it would be subsidized by taxes on doctors and on employers who don't offer coverage.
Taken together, Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger’s plan and a plan led by his Democratic uncle, Senator Kennedy, to gradually expand existing federal health programs into universal coverage, would finally give us something for which to thank Maria Shriver.