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Health Care for All

March 24, 2010

First, let me apologize for two things:

  • First – I’ve been away from this space for too long. The break wasn’t intended, it’s just that I’ve been busier than usual lately. I’ll try to return to more regular updates – if anyone cares.
  • Second – This is going to be something of a political rant so people who aren’t interested should just leave now. I won’t be offended. Really.

OK, now on to our irregularly scheduled post.

As most of you know, Congress passed the Health Care Reform bill earlier this week and President Obama signed the legislation into law today. Now, while I don’t know the details of this plan well enough to criticize it on its merits – or lack of them – I can confidently say two things. First, this legislation was way overdue and, second, the Republican party’s opposition to this measure was some of the sleaziest, dirtiest, mean-spirited political hackery I have ever witnessed.

As one of the millions of Americans who has what the insurance industry calls a “pre-existing condition,” I know first-hand the difficulties of trying to obtain private health insurance. When my COBRA plan ran out a few months ago, I started shopping around for reasonable coverage.

After navigating through a seemingly endless array of plans and options, I finally settled on a Blue Cross plan that seemed to fit my needs. Unfortunately for me, I don’t seem meet Blue Cross’ definition of an “acceptable risk.” After weeks of back and forth with them, the bottom line is that they refused to sell me a policy even though I was willing to pay their outrageously high premiums and have been considered cured of my cancer for nearly five years.

With our currently screwed up health care system where I can’t go to an out-of-state insurer in search of coverage, Blue Cross’ rejection of my application means that I’m currently shit out of luck if I need to see a doctor or, worse, visit an emergency room.

Hell, even basic preventive care like an annual check-up can end up costing me thousands of dollars in lab tests and other expenses. It makes going to a doctor even less appealing than usual if I know that I’m going to have to write a four-figure check or carry unwanted credit card debt on top of actually dragging my ass to a medical office.

Now, multiply me by a million – or 10 or 20 million – and you see why making affordable health insurance available to all Americans is politics that I can get behind. Sure, the bill isn’t perfect and it probably never will be, but the changes it promises will make our health care system a whole lot more affordable – and accessible – for millions of people.

And this brings me to my basic issue with the Republicans who stood in opposition to this historic legislation. I have no problem with those legislators who had real issues with the bill. My problem is, I don’t know that any of them did.

Throughout the past year’s political bickering, it seems that the Republicans were interested in defeating this bill for one reason, and one reason only: it was spear-headed by President Obama and the Democrats. Every time the Democrats offered a compromise, the Republicans rejected it out-right. It didn’t matter what it was, or where the idea came from, once a Democrat offered a change, it was, by its very nature, bad.

What’s more, when offered a chance to make substantive changes to the bill, the Republicans refused to step up and offer any real ideas of their own. They were like a small child who refuses to eat their dinner because it’s “yucky,” but then won’t tell their parent what they want to eat. They’d rather throw a tantrum than offer an alternative.

While I understand the political reasoning behind the Republican’s organized opposition, their complete unwillingness to do anything but pander to the basest, most mean-spirited and selfish instincts of their conservative base made them look, well, mean-spirited.

To try and deny millions of Americans access to affordable health care simply to curry political favor and reclaim control of Congress isn’t leadership or honorable. It’s small-minded and petty, and shows to me that the Republicans aren’t interested in solving problems – they’re interested in making people afraid of them because that’s how elections are won. (And yes, I did just paraphrase Aaron Sorkin/Michael Douglas in the American President. I know a good line when I hear it.)

Is the measure signed into law the best possible solution to our healthcare crisis? No. In fact, I’m sure it’s not even close. But, I give President Obama and the Democrats credit for following through and passing what seemed like un-passable legislation in the face of bitter, divisive opposition.

Now, make it better.

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. March 24, 2010 1:49 pm

    “What’s more, when offered a chance to make substantive changes to the bill, the Republicans refused to step up and offer any real ideas of their own. They were like a small child who refuses to eat their dinner because it’s “yucky,” but then won’t tell their parent what they want to eat. They’d rather throw a tantrum than offer an alternative.”

    This, I think, is why Republicans won’t find any real electoral benefit from the passage of HCR. Merely stomping your feet and saying, “We don’t like it!” gives good sound bites, but voters want to know what alternative is being offered. Even the anti-war Democratic candidates had to offer explanations for how to handle withdrawal of troops and resulting national security concerns; it wasn’t enough to say, “End the war! Vote for me!”

  2. Marc permalink
    March 24, 2010 2:41 pm

    Bravo

    It’s mind boggling how corrupt the Republicans are and how little interest they have in making things better.

    Here in Florida, Republican Senators are about to pass a bill that links teacher pay with students’ performance on standardized tests. Because we all know that nothing measures quality education like standardized tests that the students spend 3 months cramming for and learning how to game the system.

    And not that I’m a conspiracy theorist or anything but guess who owns an educational software firm used by the state of Florida? Neil Bush, the brother of former Governor Jeb, who was the one who instituted the standardized tests in the first place.

    Sorry Jon, didn’t mean to get on a rant. I meant to just say Bravo and the rest just spilled out of me. It’s your fault. You should have stuck to poker.

  3. katkin permalink*
    March 24, 2010 7:00 pm

    I’m glad I struck a chord Marc, and feel free to rant away. I don’t mind.

    And, I’m sure the situation in Florida isn’t too different than anything that goes on in other parts of the country, or in Washington, for that matter. Special interest groups and political cronies have an excessive amount of power, making it almost impossible for senators, congressmen, governors or any other elected official to ignore their lobbying efforts. Toss in the huge amounts of money these groups throw at re-election campaigns and it’s amazing anything in the public interest ever gets accomplished.

  4. unaha-closp permalink
    March 24, 2010 6:06 pm

    Your taxes are going to go up as a result of spending too much on the Iraq War, on TARP and borrowing done to finacnce the Bush tax cuts and (importantly) new Healthcare spending. Since the GOP was responsible for the first three of those it would be easy for the Dems to hold them responsible for the increases, except that healthcare reform has occured and now they can’t. When taxes start going up the GOP is going to profit from blaming the health reforms.

  5. March 24, 2010 9:08 pm

    Word.

    I also have a couple of pre-existing conditions, although neither of them are as big a deal as cancer, cured or otherwise. Blue Cross hiked my individual policy by 38% — I’m not clear whether that will stand, under the new bill, but that’s beside the point — and then when I tried to switch to a cheaper plan with less coverage, they denied me, by virtue of the fact that I’m being successfully treated for those aforementioned pre-existing conditions. This although the successful treatment involves nothing more than relatively inexpensive and exceedingly common pills.

    I am fervently hoping that Blue Cross doesn’t get to keep raising my premiums by extortionate amounts between now and 2014. If they do, my premiums by 2014 will cost more than my rent. I’ll try to hold out, but if that happens, my options will be either to shutter my business after 20 years to find a job with insurance benefits, or to join you in the land of the uninsured for a few years, praying that I don’t get sick in the interim.

  6. March 25, 2010 5:35 am

    2700 pages of Potomac speak means none of us know what is to come.

    The problem in the media at this point is there won’t be enough new doctors. The media doesn’t dwell on the cost/income that will generate.

    Pre-existing is a bitch and there has to be something better. Government mandates they now get covered. Insurance companies currently pay out about 70% of the premium in medical cost. A single cancer patient can add 1-2 mil to those costs. Premium will rise.

    The government is helping fund many individuals so the cost will exceed projections.

    We all should have a good life. Sadly, that doesn’t happen for all. Inequity will always exist. We’ve a fairly broken medical system. At the highest levels it is as good as it gets. Even with all this hoopla, many won’t see a big change. Others may see the added expenses this will generate as affecting their children’s education and and their ability to give them the things they had.

    There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.

    BTW, I’m on Medicare and I’m losing benefits. Of course Medicare was inefficient and corrupt before all this and this does nothing to change that except put more American under the bureaucrats.

  7. Stone Manly permalink
    April 17, 2010 9:21 pm

    This is the land of the free, am I right? So why isn’t insurance free?

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