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Monday, March 22, 2010

This One's For Ellie (And All the Other Kids Who Have "Pre-Existing Conditions")

There are so many things I want to say about this Health Care Reform Bill. 

First, of course, is "Thank You, Jesus!"

But, today it'll have to end with that, because:

a) I'm tired.
b) I'm going out ON A DATE with the fellow democrat in the house (though he still maintains he's an independent, silly boy) in 15 minutes
c) John H. Richardson said it all for me in the following article:

(I am expecting that only my sweet Peitricia Mae will actually read this article in its entirety, so this one's for you, my dear!  Though, who knows, if I have any blog readers left, they might surprise me!)

The Next Questions We Should Be Asking About Health Care


By John H. Richardson


"We proved that this government — a government of the people and by the people — still works for the people," Obama declared after the vote. But does it?


It's done. What Teddy Roosevelt couldn't do, what FDR couldn't do, what Truman couldn't do, what Johnson couldn't do, what Clinton couldn't do, Barack Obama has done. The health care reform bill has passed.


No longer can you be kicked off your plan for the crime of getting sick. If you lose your job, no longer must you live in fear of losing your insurance when the COBRA runs out. If you get cancer, no longer can your insurance company pour over the records and cancel your policy because you failed to disclose your childhood acne.


Now, finally, facts will intervene. Is health care reform really the end of America, as so many Republicans have so feverishly warned? Is the economy really going to collapse? Are we suddenly going to start frog-marching in mass formations past our Dear Leader? Is the government really going to start funding abortions? Or was Obama just flat-out lying when he signed, at the last minute, that executive order promising Bart Stupak and the abortion-hating Democrats that the government would do no such thing?


No longer must you fear the worst. Just walk outside and see if the sky is falling.


One thing, however, is clear already: In the middle of a severe economic slump, despite all the hand-wringing and whining, Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats kicked ass. Now they've got the Big Mo to reform the financial system, start paying down the deficit, reform immigration, and fix the global warming problem. The future is at hand. That hopey-changey thing is working out just fine, thank you. And you can measure it in the relentless attacks that are certain to come, because trashing health care before it goes into effect is the only weapon Obama's enemies have left.


Another thing is very clear: Every single Republican voted against reform. Their record is now 3-0. This party fought against Social Security right up until George Bush gave up its last attempt to "privatize" reform into more profits for the geniuses of Wall Street. This party fought against Medicare right up to the day Bush packed it with another trillion dollars or so in unfunded mandates. (And excuse me if I indulge in the conspiratorial suspicion that the GOP's real motive was to bankrupt Medicare so they could drown it in that government-killing bathtub they're always going on about.) Then, for the last year, this party fought against universal health care so feverishly that, by the end, the Republicans actually had the chutzpah to attack the Democrats for funding reform out of existing revenues. That's right: When the Democrats did the responsible thing and moved money around within the federal budget, paying for reform without adding a penny to the deficit, the Republican Party suddenly started crying crocodile tears for Medicare.


We knew this day was coming — I was confident health care reform would go down like this from the beginning, and never wavered — but can't we just move on now? There are certainly legitimate reasons to be concerned about the cost of reform and many specific details of the plan, and Republicans always have some useful constructive criticisms to offer — which is exactly why two hundred of their ideas made it into the bill. And I really don't want to play the anger game anymore. On the left-leaning Web sites, I see people fixating on the crazies who called Barney Frank a fag and John Lewis a nigger. Or the unknown boor who yelled "baby killer!" at Bart Stupak. Or David Nunes, the congressman who got quoted so enthusiastically because he was saying the silliest things — that the Democrats were practicing "totalitarianism" and building their "Socialist utopia on the backs of the American people." Can we just posit that these folks are flakes of the fringe? Can we just start focusing on the statesmen and the grownups?


I'm not being facetious. I correspond with a lot of angry conservatives, including many members of the Tea Party. Over and over, I find that if you correspond with respect, the nasty argument turns into a dialogue. Not always, but often. And there are still some statesmen in the Republican Party, as the bipartisan vote to pass the bailout showed, even if they have been very quiet of late.


Last week, I spent two days sitting in the Senate gallery watching the debate over the FAA reauthorization bill, and I was surprised to see Jim DeMint teaming up with Democrats like Byron Dorgan and Kirsten Gillibrand in a statesman-like effort to do the people's business. Outside the spotlight, even in the middle of the war over health care, sanity prevailed — and not one single news reporter anywhere in America bothered to mention it. So it would be really nice if we could get past all the hysteria and let health care reform speak for itself. If it really turns out that it sucks as bad as the Republicans said it would, then the Democrats will pay the price because of actual facts and not overheated political rhetoric.


But first, allow me vent on David Nunes a bit more. Just before the vote, I heard him tell Sean Hannity that the reform is the work of "crazy leftists from the 1960s, from Hollywood and San Francisco." C'mon, man. Criticize all you want, but let's be adults. The AARP is full of crazy leftists? Those fifty-nine thousand nuns are crazy leftists? The American Medical Association?


Then there was the guy on CNBC who predicted that one-hundred million Americans could lose their health insurance.


And then there were all the people who denounced the bill as a stinking compromise tainted by backroom deals. Has everyone in the Republican Party forgotten that stinking compromise is what democracy is all about? We hear a lot these days about how great the Founding Fathers were, for example: They were so inspired when they wrote the Constitution that many people believe we should follow it literally. Okay, let's do that.


Remember the Three-Fifths Compromise? Talk about an ugly deal! The Southern states wanted to count the slaves so they could get more congressmen. The Northern states said that was unfair because the slaves couldn't vote. The Southern states said. Fine, have fun with your tiny little seaside nation. So, in order to get the Constitution passed, the Northern states made a deal as dirty as it is possible to make — not only did they sell out their principles, they sold out human beings. But did that dirty compromise doom the country?


Another thing we know for sure: Despite the apocalyptic warnings, nobody really expects the markets to crash. The first hints of the direct economic impact of health care legislation that is supposed to doom the capitalist system was... a jump in stock prices. In fact, most economists expect the economy to continue to improve. Even on CNBC, where it has become gospel that government spending always depresses markets — and never mind the boost to business growth caused by the interstate highway system, or the government bureaucrats who invented the Internet — they said the economy would still be improving six months from now... but maybe (grumble grumble) improving more slowly.


Well, if the economy improves more slowly but thirty-one million new people are insured and the rest of us don't have to worry about losing our insurance if our luck or health turns bad, I think most Americans would take that deal.


But now, I have to vent a little bit more. When John Boehner said that the institution of Congress was broken and the process is broken, I couldn't help yelling at the television: Didn't we elect these people? Didn't they vote? Isn't that how the process is supposed to work? And when Boehner said the Democrats were "moving against the people's will" — I'm not conceding this is true, since the polls reflect the heat of the battle and most people do support the actual provisions of the bill — but didn't George Bush used to brag about not listening to polls? Wasn't that a major Republican talking point for years? Now they think we should give up the whole representative democracy thing and run the country by majority rule? And his line about it not being too late "to restore comity to this institution?" Really, John? Is that why you were yelling and turning red?


Another thing we know for sure: The people who say this reform will be a disaster are the same people who said that taking action during the economic crash would be a disaster. Remember that? The market fundamentalists and Fox News hosts wanted to roll the dice and let the market fix itself by "finding its bottom." They were ready to kiss the car companies and the stock market and their asses goodbye because that's what the invisible hand of capitalism wanted them to do, and free men always obey the market. But George Bush and Barack Obama and a bipartisan majority of Republicans and Democrats decided to try to stop the collapse instead. And lo, the collapse stopped. And growth is returning much faster than anyone expected — 5.7 points last quarter.


Now those same people say reform — health care, climate change, or otherwise — will also be a disaster for the Democrats. In fact, they've been touchingly generous with their political advice, as when Boehner expressed his concern about Nancy Pelosi's political judgment: "So you pass a very unpopular bill. You shove it down the throats of the American people and you lose your majority. How good is that? How smart is that?"


They seem to have forgotten William Kristol's famous 1993 memo saying that if Bill Clinton passed health care reform, it would be "enormously healthy" for the Democrats, reviving their reputation and striking "a punishing blow" to the Republicans? And oddly, so has just about every news host on every TV channel, even CNN. Now that reform has passed, the horse-race story line has become HOW BAD WILL IT BE FOR THE DEMOCRATS? Without a blink, my colleagues in the mainstream media went from WHY CAN'T OBAMA ACCOMPLISH ANYTHING? to WHAT TERRIBLE CONSEQUENCES WILL HIS HISTORIC ACCOMPLISHMENTS HAVE? And with so much at stake, it's only going to get uglier.


Only now there are thirty-one million people to remind them.

4 comments:

peitricia mae said...

Yep.

I do worry, though, that it's going to get even uglier - and I'll admit I'm not *quite* celebrating yet.

It's been such a long road to get here, and frankly I'm pretty beaten down by how hard the fight had to be (and will still be - this thing ain't over yet). Not so much that there was a need for lots of discussion and revamping the bill - but that so many people did (and still do) need convincing that this is something the US should attempt at all.

But nonetheless. Soon I won't have to have my suitcase packed, ready to head back to Canada, which was Plan B if any of our health plans found out that I had the chicken pox as a child and decided to kick me off, so there is hope.

Hope you had an awesome date with Mr. Independent!

Jennifer said...

But, to be fair, it doesn't PROVIDE insurance for everyone. Only REQUIRES it. Sure, you get a tax break. But really? enough to cover an entire premium? If you're barely making it as it is, you still won't be able to afford insurance. However, I definitely applaud the "pre-existing conditions" changes and such. That was big time needed. Still love you, though. HA HA! :-)

Miss Burb said...

I still think the bill needs a lot of work as well... like Jennifer said, sure the government will helps those who are barely making it, but the reason we're on Medicaid now is because we can't afford a dime!
That being said, I'm still for the change. Insurance companies need to be regulated. My son should be able to get GOOD insurance despite having CP.

thank you for posting this. It's been so frustrating for me lately because EVERYONE i know has been bashing Obama and the health care reform. And yet, no one has a better alternative. They're not the ones getting denied coverage because of something they can't help but have, or their coverage being pulled because the insurance company doesn't want to pay.

When my son was in the hospital our insurance company stuck us with $5k worth of bills OUTSIDE of our out of pocket with know real explaination. Does anyone know if insurance companies will be better regulated so these type of situations are more rare than the norm? or are we still expected to battle it out, with a more then likely negative (for us) outcome?

Jericho said...

Hope you enjoyed your date!! Thanks for posting the article, as well!