2010-03-04 / This Week's Attitude

This Week's Attitude

Health Care Reform Must Pass For Good Of The Nation
By Neil S. Friedman

It was supposed to be the great health care reform debate, but, after seven hours, there was not much more than standard political discord. You know, stubborn Democrats versus inflexible Republicans.

Did anyone, but the truly naïve, really expect anything else? For more than 13 months, the minority party in Congress has been the GOP, which, unmistakably, now stands for Get Our President.

It came as no surprise that President Obama’s meeting to discuss health care reform last week with a bipartisan group of lawmakers ended without a glimmer of compromise. Perhaps the only interesting thing that the session did was to compel a few politicians to openly engage in a crucial discussion for something more than headlines and sound bites before an audience of millions.

In the short time they’ve been in the Congressional minority, the word ‘compromise’ has been absent from the Republican lexicon. One year after health care reform legislation was introduced, the GOP has adopted a slogan once associated with the War on Drugs — “Just Say No” — not only for health care reform, but just about anything proposed by this administration.

The country sorely needs a prescription for practical health care reform, not a dose of “do nothing” from Republicans merely looking to shelve the process.

After years of failing to address reform of the nation’s health care system, Republicans want to scrap the Democrats’ plan and start over.

With what?

Republican legislators maintain they have a sensible, less costly health care alternative, but in the weeks and months they’ve had an opportunity to produce it, nothing has surfaced except constant criticism and an unwavering refusal to support universal health care coverage.

One obvious motivation for the health reform delay is anticipated donations from the health care industry that would expand campaign coffers for upcoming reelection campaigns.

Another reason Republicans have little incentive to support it, is that it they presume it will be Obama’s Waterloo, resulting in a one-term presidency.

Despite strong GOP and voter opposition, the president plans on achieving his foremost campaign pledge and push it through the Senate with a simple majority vote. As the debate enters that stage, Republicans argue it would be undemocratic to pass health care reform using reconciliation. But Democrats respond that the opposition has successfully used the maneuver 16 times since 1980 to avert a filibuster when the GOP controlled the Senate.

Republicans are exploiting the familiar politics of fear strategy the Bush Administration used to launch the war in Iraq over non-existent weapons of mass destruction. This time they’ve created an frightening atmosphere to persuade Americans that the Democrats’ health care legislation will wipe out what they now have. However, the plan will not alter insurance plans for those satisfied with current policies, nor will it adversely affect Medicare for seniors.

While more than 45 million Americans remain uninsured and millions of others have insufficient coverage, our federal legislators (and their dependents) receive the best care the system has to offer under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program — paid for with taxpayer money, including revenues from those who can’t afford coverage.

No one can argue that Barack Obama didn’t give his opponents the chance to get on board with a plan that, among other items, will provide affordable health care for millions, guarantee coverage for pre-

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