In truth, it's a very common misunderstanding, so let's spell it out here. Mr. Alter writes:
The key to a political victory on health care isn't just passing a bill, it's controlling insurance premiums. After much-ballyhooed reform, Massachusetts failed to restrain premiums, which are set to increase another 10 percent next year. If the same thing happens nationally after Obama signs a bill, Americans will take it out on Democrats. So assuring that premiums don't skyrocket should be the No. 1 priority as committee chairs get down to the short strokes.
The best antidote to premium gouging, of course, is a public option.
No. The key to health care reform, political victory or not, is to prevent health care in America from deteriorating to the detriment of its people. If care is rationed, technology limited producing waiting lists and elderly shunted into "comfort care" then regardless of the structure, regardless of the costs, America will hold Democrats responsible. And given that that's what happens in other nations with government systems, there's a fairly high bar for proving that it won't.
Democrats will be much better off approving reforms that preserve what's great about American healthcare even if costs continue to rise than controlling costs while failing to preserve that greatness. And if the costs are not controlled and healthcare deteriorates ...