2008 was a fascinating and invigorating year for political enthusiasts on the left. There were huge gains in both houses of Congress and a Democrat won the presidency. Politicos on the left were on top of the world.
Then, reality set in.
2009 has brought that fact home only too vividly. Initiatives have been stopped. Others have yet to see the light of day. Some grind on endlessly, like Universal Health Care. The glow of electoral victory has faded. The honeymoon is over. This governing shit is hard.
Each new rumor is trumpeted across the media and the blogosphere. Daily stories of seeming betrayals or secret deals cause either pandemonium or elation amongst the political set. This could be a story from the glory days of Greece and Rome.
Throughout this whole process, I’ve tried to maintain a patient attitude. I’d succeeded until this latest rumor about UHC. Now, I’m starting to get mad.
“Don’t trust rumors. Don’t trust anything you hear from unnamed sources. Wait until the final bill comes out before jumping to conclusions.”
Those were all things I’ve told other people. Plenty of rumors have failed to prove out during this process. Plenty of politicians have seemed to waffle or reverse their position. They’ll keep doing it until the hour of the vote. I know all of this, yet now I’m worried.
I’ve been lax lately. Letting the politicians carry the ball. It’s time to get active again. I’m going to call both of my senators in the morning and I’m going to send the following to my local newspapers.
It is time to revisit the reasons for health care reform.
The United States of America is the only developed country in the world that does not have some form of universal health care. The only one. It is also ranked 37th the world for its quality of health care. All of the countries that rank higher spend far less than we do as a percentage of GDP and get better health care. If they can do it then so can we.
Health care costs are rising far faster than inflation. Each year they take more money out of peoples’ pockets. Those costs will continue to rise at an unsustainable rate until we do something about them. Wages have been stagnant for decades, partly because of the increase in health insurance costs. This will only get worse. The day will soon come when wages will either have to come down or employee contributions for health care will have to increase. Both could happen.
Every family’s health insurance is at risk, especially in economic times like these. A lost job or an employer who is forced to drop health coverage could happen to anyone. Reduced income and higher health insurance costs have broken many household budgets.
Studies have shown that the majority of bankruptcies involved medical expenses. More than half of those people had existing health insurance when the costs were incurred.
There is one more factor in all of this – the 50,000,000 uninsured Americans. The Institute of Medicine estimates there are 47,000 preventable deaths each year due to lack of health insurance. There is more at stake than dollars.
Those uninsured result in unpaid hospital bills. Hospitals charge more to offset the losses. They pass this on to insurance companies, so every insured person pays a higher premium to cover those costs. In addition, the government reimburses hospitals for some of those losses. These come out of taxpayer dollars. This is the current state of affairs.
The question should not be whether or not we need reform. The need is indisputable. The question is how do we proceed?
Conservative Democrats and obstinate Republicans need to join into the process instead of simply saying no. Joe Lieberman, Ben Nelson, and all the other opponents that keep trying to stop reform have to be reminded that they will have blood on their hands if they kill reform. They also have to be reminded that doing nothing is going to bankrupt this country just like it is already bankrupting so many people.