Connector is getting the job done

One of the great things about the Wall Street Journal (and there are many) is its strict separation of the editorial page from the news. Whereas the editorial page and many of the Op-Eds are strident and ideological, the news pages offer as close to an objective voice as you’re likely to find.

There is, however an indirect relationship between the two parts of the paper. In particular, I enjoy it when the sober, objective news staff writes about an issue that’s been treated ideologically on the Op-Ed pages.

There’s an example today on the front page: “Delicate Operation; How 10 People Reshaped Massachusetts Health Care,” which describes the hard work the Connector is doing to try to make near-universal health care a reality here.

The Connector board offered, in microcosm, a look at the collision of interests — business, labor, medical professionals and needy patients — that has derailed decades of efforts to reform the U.S. health-care system. When it comes to health-care reform, everyone’s second choice, after their own plan, has been the status quo.

In Massachusetts, board members did something unusual, finding ways to compromise on some of their most cherished positions and reach common ground. As a result, Massachusetts is poised to become the first state to achieve near-universal coverage. Registration for the new insurance plans began May 1.

Unlike Washington, the Connector compromised successfully because it was expected to, stepping in after a long struggle by state lawmakers to create a plan supported by all major parties. Says Joseph Antos, a health-policy expert at the conservative American Enterprise Institute: “They have a responsibility. They have to produce.”

I think that’s about the right take, and it’s not accidental that a “conservative expert” is chosen to comment.

Contrast that with a Journal op-ed piece (Intensive Care for RomneyCare) I commented on a while back. In it, Pacific Research Institute’s Sally Pipes declared:

[L]ess than a year after passage, RomneyCare is in the intensive care unit, soon to be wheeled into hospice.

Pipes and her buddies are really hoping the plan fails, because it doesn’t fit their pristine ideological view. Fact is, it’s ideologically unsatisfying compromises that will be needed to evolve the system toward sanity, and not just in Massachusetts.

May 30, 2007