Close your eyes. Hold your nose. Open your mouth. Now swallow. – That’s how my mom tried to keep me from gagging when taking medicine. That’s what our Democrat leaders are telling us now about health care “reform.”
Another gigantic example of big event legislation. A massive bill way too big to fail – or read – or understand – or debate. Chock full of things for just about every special interest so Dems can finally deliver a health care bill.
- No insurance? We’ll give it to you.
- Can’t afford insurance? We’ll help you.
- Uninsurable? No longer.
- Have insurance? We’re not going to change a thing.
- On medicare? We’ll close the prescription donut hole.
- Own insurance or pharma stocks? We’ll increase your markets and your profits.
- A health care provider? We won’t set prices.
- Against a woman’s right to choose? Us, too.
- Against expanding Medicare? Us, too.
- Against a public option? It will be in name only.
- Anti-deficit? It’s paid for with savings and new taxes.
- Anti-health care reform? Your state can opt out.
- Anti-Obama? Won’t go into effect until after the next presidential election.
- Anti-immigrant? Us, too.
- Own a business? Have we got some loopholes for you.
- Middle class poor with lots of debt? Okay, nothing for you, but didn’t we just pass a tax cut and credit card reform?
- Healthy and just starting out? There are no jobs anyway, go for Medicaid.
- Work on K Street? You’ll make your bonus.
- An accountant or lawyer? Consider it a bailout.
H.R.3590 – Service Members Home Ownership Tax Act of 2009 (this is the actual name of Senate health care bill which is an amendment of a bill already in the cue to speed it up – aka: The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act) runs some 2,074 pages containing 327,911 words (War and Peace has 561,893 words). It is the poster child example of the preferred way to govern these days: one gigantic omnibus bill that no one authors (or is to blame) and no one really knows who (or what lobby firm) added or compromised what that ends up in it. Bills that can be labeled, branded, lobbied, spun and base-rallied pro or con. Legislation to do everything, will last forever and we’ll fix down the road, depending upon who is in the majority down the road. This type of legislation is the reason politics is so partisan. And, this is what I hate about health care reform.
Couldn’t we have broken out a few things that we all believe in? Small, understandable bills that could be bipartisan? Simple language to solve some basic problems that simple people could believe government could actually accomplish? Incremental reforms to fix what we all might agree is broken?
- Why do we have to debate the public option to get rules changed so preexisting conditions don’t prevent people from getting insurance?
- Why do we have to debate whether every business will be forced to offer – and every individual will be forced to have – insurance in order that individuals and mom and pop businesses are allowed to join group plans at a reasonable cost?
- Why do we have to agree not to negotiate prescription prices in order to have higher penalties for people who commit Medicare fraud?
- Why do we have to debate subsidies for the uninsured, just so we can get rid of subsidies of private insurance companies offering Medicare (or at least require them to report quality of care results)?
- Why do we have to debate changes in tort so that we can pass legislation to cover newborns who don’t have insurance?
- Or require reporting on the effectiveness of drugs, medical tests and procedures? Or require electronic reporting? Or remove lifetime limits? Or limiting waiting periods? Or insurance plan transparency? Or transparency of physician ownership and investments? Or investments in primary care provider training? Or nursing student loans? Or funding for a National Health Service Corps? Or a national and state background checks for facilities and providers? Or medical bankruptcy prevention? Or improvements in access to immunizations? Or addressing childhood obesity? Or hospice reform? Or chronic disease prevention? Etc.
Wouldn’t it seem more civilized to pass specific bills that we agree on rather than bundling those we agree on with a bunch of controversial issues forcing our representatives to vote up or down on the whole package – or, God forbid, break with their party?
Why can’t we have a separate debate/vote on a public option or expanding Medicare? And a separate debate/vote on allowing insurance companies to compete in national markets? And a separate debate/vote on requiring everyone to have some form of coverage?
What is really going on here? Our leaders just don’t have much faith in us. They act as if they believe that the only way they can build a constituency to pass a bill is to make the issue seem to have epic proportions. To frame a debate as one that threatens our existence or our way of life. To excite the base, shake out the campaign contributions, get TV face time and get reelected. They did this to invade Iraq (Vietnam, Korea, Philippines, Mexico, Indian Wars, etc.). To bail out Wall Street (protect many other industries). And now, to pass health care “reform.”
We need our health care industry reformed. We must find ways to stablize costs. We must become more efficient and more competitive. We must do better in preventive care. We must discuss as a society, how the poor, the unfortunately sick and the innocent should receive health services. We also must find common ground, or we may lose more in the process than gained by any victory or defeat of the bill.
This bill is not about really about “reform” – I sincerely wish it were since I hear and read so much about it. Don’t get me wrong – there is a lot of great stuff mixed in the 2,074 pages – important, life-improving and life-and-money-saving stuff. But much of this bill and almost all of the cost, is about expansion of health care insurance for those who can’t afford insurance, don’t choose to buy it (preferring, in most cases I suspect, to eat or have shelter), or have been denied it. Reform is mostly packaging.
As a result, we’ll probably get a compromise of a “reform” law. A compromise of a benefit for the uninsured. Certainly a more divided country. And, we’ll probably have to do it all again some day soon because many of the real issues won’t have been honestly included, debated in daylight, voted on, or made sustainable.
On the other hand, what an historic achievement to get it this close. Maybe it really does take this cynical, scare-the-hell-out-of-everyone, Rahm Emanuel-pit bull-but-open-to-compromise-approach to get something done? Please weigh-in with your comments.