On the Edge of Reform
In a process that has become more about arcane rules and horse-trading, the debate over health care reform has become confusing and off-putting to Americans. The reality is, that if nothing is done to reform the system, the system will fail. Unfortunately, the political system is so polarized and politicized, that little gets done. We're told that anywhere from 53% to 73% of Americans don't approve of the current legislation. That may be true, but it doesn't tell the whole story. Just because someone doesn't like the current legislation, doesn't mean they want to scrap it and start from scratch. Many Democrats are upset because the Senate plan lacks a public option, and there won't be a public option because it takes 60 votes to get that kind of vote.
In the end we have a fight about procedures -- and each procedure seems messy and even soiled. You have to give this Senator or Representative a certain chit in order to gain that person's support (if you think this is new, then you've not been paying attention since year one). And if necessary you find a way of hiding the bill in rules. It's all legal and its all been done before -- by both parties. The Republicans, finding themselves in the minority, are crying foul, but they've done this before, when they've been in the majority. Neither party is composed of saints.
At the end of the day, as the fight continues, the likelihood of something ending up on the President's desk continues to grow. There is a bill that has passed the Senate, but it needs some fixes, so the House will find a way to provide the fix. Primary among the fixes is removing some special favors given to folks like Ben Nelson of Nebraska.
Once passed, Americans will move on, the President will move on, and we'll find something new to argue about -- like re-regulating the financial sector. But, once passed, we will have put ourselves back on a path that can offer Americans piece of mind about health care. We can start working on ways to bring down costs to employers and to those buying insurance on the open market. We can help the uninsured get access and make sure that people don't lose insurance if they get sick. Remember, too, that this is just the beginning of reform. There will be much more to do, but the foundation will be laid, so that the later fixes can be made with greater ease.
Americans, I believe, want something done and they're tired of the fighting. They don't support, necessarily one plan or the other, but they do want something done. Seniors like their Medicare and don't want to lose it. Many Americans who don't qualify for that kind of plan due to age, but they'd like to have access to that kind of system -- but that is called a public option and unfortunately its not currently available.