During the Presidential debates, both Barack Obama and John McCain agreed that every American had a right to affordable health care. They differed on their approaches, but not on the imperative. Now, six months into his administration, with the different parties (not just political ones) digging in for a fight, President Obama is calling on America to act, and act boldly to deal with a problem that has been festering for decades.
The President has made health care reform a top priority, and many are saying this will make or break his presidency. Indeed, some in the opposing party, with no real ideas of their own (remember when the GOP was the party of ideas) have decided that if they obstruct this effort they can regain power. They've complained about a lack of bipartisanship, but I've really not seen any big ideas flowing from their side into the conversation.
So, tonight, even as health care costs and insurance rates continue to rise at an every expanding rate, the President will go before the press and seek some traction. The press, for their part, not wanting to be used for such purposes will surely try to turn the conversation elsewhere. Republicans will say that the sky is falling and that health care reform will bankrupt the nation or suggest that health care reform will take away choice and lead to long lines. And, some Democrats will just stall.
We often hear about how wonderful the American health care system is. People sneer at Canada and Europe and suggest that this is socialized medicine. And why is this bad? Well, if you have "socialized" medicine, that is government sponsored medical coverage, this apparently leads to lack of choice. But the reality is that for most Americans there is really little choice. You have as much choice as your insurance companies will allow -- if you have insurance. Most private companies don't have to accept people with pre-existing conditions. And, because much health coverage is employer provided, if you move, change jobs, or lose your job you likely will lose your health coverage. In addition, from the statistics I've read, health care crisis marks the highest cause of bankruptcies in America -- and a majority of those who go into bankruptcy have health insurance -- it's just that the insurance doesn't cover enough. As for the millions who are without health care coverage and they swamp the ER's, who must treat people.
Do I have the answers? No, but something must be done, and soon. We've been arguing about this for decades. I remember having these conversations in High School, back in the 70s. Everyone was worrying about socialized medicine (especially my friends whose parents were doctors). Things have changed little -- but the costs have become overwhelming.
Now, as for me and my household, I have health care coverage for the family. It's expensive and it doesn't cover everything. So, my choices are limited. Indeed, the only people who really have choice are those who have high end employer provided health care (and that's diminishing every year) and the rich (have you been watching Royal Pains on USA?). If you've got money you can get whatever you want.
I don't envy the President on this issue, but I appreciate his willingness to step up to the plate and take a stand. Hopefully, Congress will act soon -- probably not by the end of August, but hopefully before the campaign season begins, when nothing will get done. It has to be done by the end of this year or it won't happen. So, act. It's a moral imperative -- for the health and well-being of the people is at stake.