Ladies and gentlemen I want a clean fight with nothing below the belt. Maybe boxers heed this message but in the world of politics there is no such thing as a clean fight. With the passage of Senator Max Baucus’ health care reform bill in the Senate Finance committee, Democrats are gearing up for a slugfest. Honestly, even I’m worn out by the infighting and drama that is surrounding this spectacle known as health care reform.
Of course I knew it wouldn’t be a knock out for reform supporters. The idea of government run healthcare dates back to 1910 when it was referred to as compulsory health insurance. Healthcare reform was atop of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s agenda in 1939 but by that time Congress was so upset with Social Security and unemployment that they nixed his idea. Harry Truman was a big proponent of a single payer system. But with the Cold War and the “Red Scare”
, any mention of socialized medicine killed his plans. Instead of coalescing around the Clinton package in 1993 many Democrats proposed competing bills that opened the floodgates for Republican attack. Health care reform has been in the ring for years, however it continues to get knocked out by opposition.
While I commend Senator Olympia Snowe for being the only Republican Senator to stand behind the legislation, it’s going take more bipartisanship on both sides of the aisle. There are many Blue Dog Democrats who feel that it would be folly to support such an expensive bill. There are also Blue Dogs who secretly support the measure, but are in conservative districts where they narrowly won in 2008. Many of them are putting electability above the best interests of their constituents. Also, there are many Republicans who are opposing reform simply to corrode Obama’s agenda. With all these competing factions and interests it will be a blessing if any consensus is reached.
Ultimately, politics is all about the art of compromise. But in such a volatile political climate where both parties are on the edge, compromising seems to be an afterthought. However, in the interest of the 45 million uninsured Americans, it is at the behest of the politicians to roll up their sleeves and get this package passed. The continual use of emergency rooms as primary care centers is hurting taxpayers and ineffectively treating patients.
Senator Max Baucus’ $829 billion expands coverage and cuts costs. In the press release it states “The Baucus plan would ensure that every individual can access affordable coverage by creating a nationwide insurance pool called the Health Insurance Exchange. Those who already have health coverage could keep what they have. But for those who need affordable, guaranteed coverage, the Exchange would be a marketplace where Americans could easily compare and purchase the plans of their choice”. It also says, “the plan strengthens the role of primary care and chronic care management.” While this may be imperfect on it’s face, it addresses the concerns of the right and left. If there ever was a time to put politics aside for the people, it is now! Reform is right under the nose of the Senate hopefully they follow it and avoid getting knocked out again.