Observations Yankee Doodling

US healthcare reform is in the dustbin

BMJ 2010; 340 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.c500 (Published 27 January 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;340:c500
  1. Douglas Kamerow, chief scientist, RTI International, and associate editor, BMJ
  1. dkamerow{at}rti.org

    Can one state’s senatorial election really scuttle the whole thing?

    The initial conventional wisdom about the race for the late Edward Kennedy’s US Senate seat was that there was no chance that the Republican candidate, Scott Brown, could defeat the Massachusetts attorney general, the Democrat Martha Coakley. It’s a heavily Democratic state, it was Kennedy’s seat for almost 50 years, and it was crucial for the Democrats to maintain their 60-40 advantage in the US Senate.

    As everyone now knows, this conventional wisdom was wrong. In the fading days of the campaign Coakley’s large lead evaporated and Brown won handily, with 53% of the vote.

    The second bit of conventional wisdom about this race, explaining the amazing upset, was that it was a vote against President Obama’s policies, especially healthcare reform. A perfect storm, pundits said: a weak Democratic candidate, a poorly run campaign, and voters impatient for economic recovery, all in a state that already had passed its own universal health coverage law and thus “didn’t need” a new federal law.

    As everyone may not know, however, the answer to …

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