Saturday, January 22, 2011

Health Care

"If we agree that this law needs improving, why keep it on the books?" asked House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio). "Let's challenge ourselves to do better."
Yesterday, three Democrats voted with every Republican in the United States House of Representatives to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The final vote was 245 – 189. Democratic Representative Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona, who is still hospitalized after an assassination attempt earlier this month, is the only member of the House that did not vote on the measure.

The three Democrats who voted with the GOP on this controversial matter are:
Representative Mike McIntyre of North Carolina
Representative Dan Boren of Oklahoma
Representative Mike Ross of Arkansas
These three Democrats (coincidentally from tradtionally red-states) also voted against the bill initially as well, so their lack of support now is not terribly surprising. However that they would stand with the Republicans on this matter that polling shows is losing its momentum is something I found somewhat surprising.

McIntyre describes on his website what he believes should be done to fix the country’s health care system:
We should tackle health care reform in targeted ways, like strengthening Medicare and Medicaid; improving Medicare reimbursement rates for rural health providers, expanding the use of electronic medical records; expanding and strengthening community health centers; allowing small business owners to join pools of coverage to access better insurance rates; allowing states to form compacts to allow the purchase of insurance across state lines; and providing tax credits for long-term care. These are just some of the many examples where we can make needed health care changes without further bankrupting the country.”
Though he obviously changed his mind, Dan Boren had said that he might not go along with the GOP efforts to repeal the bill because:
I think for those who are saying 'we're going to have a full repeal of this bill,' I would say that is very unlikely. You still have a president, even after this election; will be in office who would veto any type of legislation to repeal the bill. And I'm not for repealing the pre-existing condition issue. I'm not for repealing, you know, some of the good portions of the bill. I am for repealing some of the bad parts, so hopefully we can get together and be bipartisan and see how this shakes out.”
Mike Ross (who sits on the Energy and Commerce Committee) said, on Fox News, that he believes the bill is too big and too costly as well as “too complicated”.
The people in AR are overwhelmingly for repealing this law,” he said.
Congressman Ross, is it possible that the reason your constituents back in Arkansas are in favor of full repeal is because you are not doing your job and pointing out to them that the Right is distorting the facts about the bill? Is it at all possible, Congressman Ross, that your position on this bill has to do with the position of the Chairman of the Committee on which you sit and his own agenda in relation to the health care bill?

Republican Fred Upton of Michigan, who is the chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, spoke on the repeal of Health Care on the House floor and began with these words, “Mr. Speaker, today we take a step toward compassionate, innovative and job-creating health care.”

But then he proposed…nothing.

I fail to see how literally taking a step BACKWARD by outright REPEAL of the first health care bill that we were ever able to get in place could possibly be called “a step forward” by anyone.

Upton did make it clear that he favors many of the ideas that are part of what the Right calls “Obamacare”, such as the regulations on pre-existing conditions and allowing children to stay on parents’ policies through age 26. However, he also then voiced what seems to be his primary concern in regards to health care…limiting malpractice liability.

He then concluded by saying, “First is repeal, then replace.”

Do the Republicans really expect us to forget the fact that they had ABSOLUTE control of the government for YEARS and did nothing for health care other than pass a “prescription drug bill” (in the middle of the night with lots of ugly threats played to ram it through) that helped no one but the pharmaceutical industry and actually helped create part of the horrible mess we have now (like those “doughnut holes” in coverage for seniors)?

If they had really wanted to put through any sort of viable health care plan, they had EVERY opportunity to do so, and they did precisely nothing. Just like this little charade is doing nothing now. They know their ridiculous repeal won’t make it through the Senate, and even if it did, it would be vetoed by the President.

The fact of the matter is that this bill is a product of trying to work with the damn Republicans…that’s why we have this mess (that was originally a Republican plan in the first place) instead of the single-payer, “medicare for all” system that the left actually wanted. This mess that the right lies about, distorts and disrespectfully calls “Obamacare” is a direct result of trying to compromise with “the party of no”.

Representative Xavier Becerra of California put it succinctly, "For 12 years they had control of the Congress. For six years they had a Republican president to work with," so if they had any sort of plan to fix health care, why didn’t they bring it forward and do it?

Because Republicans don’t give a damn about health care unless they’re talking about how their insurance industry friends can make more profits, lessening regulation on that corrupt industry, making sure that certain women's health services are not covered, and limiting the amounts that people can recover through the legal system when doctors (which many of them coincidentally happen to be) fuck up, so unless they’re being literally FORCED to address the issue, they will avoid it.

What we are seeing here is history repeating itself. Back in 1992, Bill Clinton ran and was elected on the premise of health care reform. Then in 1993, the Right demonized the effort to address the issue with smears against the First Lady (then they called it “Hillarycare” didn’t they?...are these assholes NEVER original?) and horribly demonized any plan the commission might come up with (before they even came up with it). They called it “socialized medicine”, “communism”, said it would destroy the economy. They ran the infamous “Harry and Louise” television commercials lying about what was being proposed/considered.

Eventually their show worked and they managed to trick the American people into turning against the plan that hadn't even been finalized. Back then, the plan being proposed by the Right was Bob Dole’s plan which eventually was rejected as being of primary benefit to the insurance industry rather than the people.

Then the GOP used the controversy that they had created over “Hillarycare” to help them sweep back into majority control of the Congress in 1994 and once they had control of both houses of Congress, they killed any chance at health care reform until 2008 when Obama was elected, also on a promise of health care reform (wow…history really DOES repeat itself, doesn’t it?). And as the old saying goes…those who do not learn from their history are doomed to repeat it…well, we didn’t learn from ’94 so welcome to 2011. Everything old is new again. (

So health care got shelved again until another Democrat took the White House. Then when Obama was trying to get health care addressed (why is it only Democrats who ever want to address issues that affect the real people) and terms like “single-payer” and “public option” were being tossed around, suddenly the old republican plan from back in ’93 which included the “individual mandate” that they were all for (when the Democrats were rejecting it) during the Clinton years, and which was put forth as the “compromise” this time around has suddenly become "socialistic," "a monstrosity" and a "dark chapter" in American history? Oh well, so much for “compromise”.

That’s another thing I don’t really understand. How is capitulating to THEIR plan a “compromise”? It’s just like the damn tax cuts for millionaires! I’m SO sick of the “compromises” that always end up being exactly what the Right wanted in the first place!! They just keep stepping further to the right so that suddenly the “compromise” position on the “middle ground” has shifted so far right that any “compromise” is actually a Republican “win”.

Will the health care bill as it is in its current form change? Well, of course it will! Every major piece of far-reaching legislation went through that process. Representative Eliot Engel of New York summed it up nicely, "All important bills - Social Security, Medicare, civil rights laws of the 1960s - they needed to be tweaked, let us put our heads together and figure out what makes sense."

So now they’re going to put on their little show of “repeal” so that when the bill gets “tweeked” as everyone admits was the plan all along, they can pretend (for the gullible) that it was a republican victory.

The show must go on….

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