Retiring Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), who helped oversee the drafting of the Affordable Care Act, lamented in a recent interview that the law had become compromised amid the political turmoil that surrounded its passage.
He also expressed regret that the law didn’t include liberal policies like a single-payer health care system or a public health insurance plan, as many had hoped it would in the early stages.
“We had the votes in ’09. We had a huge majority in the House, we had 60 votes in the Senate,” Harkin told The Hill, saying that the first Congress of President Barack Obama’s administration should have passed “single-payer right from the get go or at least put a public option (which) would have simplified a lot.”
“We had the votes to do that and we blew it,” he said. He decried that the law as it exists is “really complicated” and benefits the insurance companies, though he praised its prevention health funding.
“We had the power to do it in a way that would have simplified health care, 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.
The latter comment reflects those made recently by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), who said that health care reform “should have come later” after Democrats took control of Congress and the White House in 2009.