Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Summer Thinking on Health Care Reform VII: an Autumnal Postscript

I came across a post at Think Progress that made me smile. People who are actually interested in having a discussion on health insurance reform (I no longer think that it's appropriate to call it health care reform), as opposed to the folks we saw screaming, whining and crying throughout August, are asking GOP members of Congress real questions. I liked that someone asked Rep. Eric Cantor if there was any real GOP health insurance proposal beyond the four page document that was waved during Obama's speech to the joint session of Congress. The easy answer is a big fat no, but Cantor couldn't say that.

Cantor did manage to suggest that another constituent, a family member of Patricia Churchill, should look to a government program (or perhaps a charity) to help meet her pressing health care needs. Interestingly, GOP Senator Tom Coburn made a similar suggestion (offering his staff to help) back in August to an Oklahoma constituent with a husband in similar need. CNN's Rick Sanchez was right to call Coburn out on this. It's amazing how quickly government solutions to health care emergencies come to mind for some in the GOP, considering the horror of government run health care. It was also fun watching this clip from a Kansas GOP Rep. Todd Tiahrt's town hall meeting posted on Huffington Post by Mark Nellis; the crowd hits back on Tiahrt's lies.

The latest GOP tactic has been to attack Democrats, because Democrats have called out the health insurance company Humana, Inc. (big supporter of its Senator Mitch McConnell) for potentially misleading recipients of Medicare Advantage through a letter sent to those recipients suggesting that Democratic health insurance reforms will cut directly into the recipients benefits. Cut into Humana's big profits is more like it.

Obviously, the easiest thing that the GOP members of Congress could do right now is to develop a legitimate plan(s) of their own, and show those Democrats how health insurance reform really should be done. The only problem is that they have no interest in doing anything of the kind. Senator DeMint of South Carolina let the cat out of the bag on the GOP strategy months ago.

Please note, the strategy is not to develop a health insurance reform plan of their own. The strategy is not to help constituents who really need the reforms. The strategy is not to sort out ways to provide costs savings in a part of the economy that is going to be a massive problem in the very near future. No, the strategy is to make Obama look bad. That is health insurance reform to the GOP, and I am embarrassed for the people who are happy to cheer them on.

Meanwhile the supporters of this "strategy" should have to answer directly to their neighbors or even relatives who continue to suffer the health insurance industry's and the GOP's shenanigans. They should have to explain why it's more important to deny Obama a victory on health insurance reform, than it is to provide fellow Americans with help that will alleviate costs and potentially save more lives. Even if you disagree with everything that the Democrats are trying to do, I would challenge you to suggest that the Democrats haven't been trying. Can the same be said of the GOP?

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