Saturday, September 12, 2009

Summer Thinking on Health Care Reform VI: Conclusions (For Now)

After weeks of listening to the inanities of the "town hall" meetings, I was glad to hear Obama lay out specific goals for a health care plan that he would prefer to see come to his desk. I was one of those who felt that he could have done this months ago (without the speech to the joint session) in order to set an agenda for the Congress, but I understand the importance of honoring Congress as a co-equal branch of government. And, we got to see all kinds of crazy in the process.

I agree with Obama that one should not be barred from acquiring health insurance because of a pre-existing condition. I also agree that health insurers should not be allowed to drop people once they actually become sick. I do believe that some form of a public option, preferably structured like a normal health insurance company, would help to bring down the prices offered by private insurers. I also agree that tort reform needs to be included in this process, and I would appreciate more specifics on this issue from those on the right (though I don't think that it is the magic bullet that so many profess it to be).

I was beyond glad to see Obama challenge the most maddening of crazy charges that came from the right, particularly the notion of "death panels." He did that clearly and forcefully, and Obama was correct in doing so. Now, I was not too sold on how this will be paid for. Then again, I am that strange one willing to pay more in taxes for proper and comprehensive health care reform, if that's what it took. Unfortunately, I live in a country where the notion of helping your fellow man is now seen as nothing more than helping someone who doesn't deserve it. So, it will be interesting to see how this process of paying for all of this plays out.

Overall, I don't think that we've really had a debate on health care. It seemed to me that the loudest of the protesters were among the least in need of health care assistance. There were lots of medicare and veterans beneficiaries among those crowds, and that's fine. But it seems the height of selfishness to protest in favor of others not having an opportunity to gain what they have: comprehensive health care.

Few on the right helped to advance anything close to a debate. I've not seen that level of demagoguery and misinformation since Sarah Palin rallies during the 2008 campaign. Rep. Joe Wilson's outburst was simply the cherry on top. Few congressional Republicans are interested in health care reform, and they certainly have no desire to see Obama get his way. So the protestations that they gave throughout this time, that they have not been heard, that their ideas have not been considered, have been mostly disingenuous. They simply aren't interested.

Sadly, few on the Hill and/or in the media have bothered to try to bring forth those most adversely affected by this health care/health insurance crisis. Where were the voices of those who need this help the most? Where were the voices of those whose lives have been destroyed by their dealings with the health insurance industry? Our attention was drawn to "blue dog" Democrats, a "gang of six," and obfuscating Republican, not to the Americans who need their help with regard to health care.

Ultimately, I think that Obama and the Democrats will pass something. And therein rests the problem. Whatever is passed will likely prove not to be enough. I seriously doubt that Obama will be the last POTUS to deal with health care reform. Too few people who matter on this issue (members of Congress) want true reform. And there are those of us out here who still long for a genuine debate to determine what true reform, within an American context, could be.

1 comment:

Julie said...

I read something interesting yesterday--I think in the Christian Science Monitor--that said that insuring those with preexisting conditions made as much sense, perhaps, as selling a house policy to a person whose home is on fire. Okay, fine. Perhaps the issue is really not insurance but in fact health care itself. Maybe we really do need a form of socialized medicine to ensure that everyone gets health care, period, and just drop the insurance thing once and for all. Again, I say let's look at how they're doing health care in Germany, England, etc., and learn from that. And frankly, if we looked to the Europeans on healthy lifesyle overall, we'd have less of a need for a health care debate in a matter of years. Fewer toxins. Fewer additives in food. Cities that are bicycle friendly and pedestrian friendly. I could go on. But until Americans conclude that every citizen should have access to quality health care, and until her citizens and leaders conclude that corporate interests are not those we hold highest, things are not gonna change.