Many progressives are cheering the health care plank of the DP platform because it commits to a goal of health care for all. Laudable language about a "guarantee" for individuals loses some lustre in the details, however. The system of health care provision described by the platform is a "individuals should purchase insurance and take steps to live healthy lives." (platform p.10-11). Under the Democratic "guarantee" not only are individuals expected to bear the burden of health care provision but they bear blame for becoming unhealthy, too.of individually-purchased and/or work-based private insurance, with an optional alternative "public plan" for those left out. That kind of patchwork does not get us out of the for-profit, hierarchical system of provision that is largely tied to employment. Progressives used to be for a tax-based (not employment- & premium- based) system much like medicare. Now many are settling for the promise of "affordability" -- which is a promised based on the assumption that individuals pay for insurance...and get what they can pay for. To back up its choice to tinker with the existing system -- expanding the public system to pick up some slack and otherwise making private coverage "affordable" -- the platform states that as health coverage becomes more affordable,
The 2004 DP platform declared health care "a right not a privilege." That platform contained different emphases, but not a different impulse. In 2004, the party was concerned with costs and affordability, the expansion of SCHIP, prescription price negotiation for seniors, and pushing scientific boundaries to fight disease -- concerns espoused this year, as well. Two commitments articulated in 2004 are not repeated this year: 1) to provide all Americans with access to the same coverage that members of Congress give themselves, and 2) a Patient's Bill of Rights.
Despite some differences of degree and formulation between 2004 and 2008, the two planks belong to the same tradition of health care reform. So much for "change".