Sunday, December 20, 2009

60 Votes for Health Care Reform

While I have issues with the constant carping criticisms, second guessing and negativity of the Arianna Huffingtons, Robert Reiches, the Howard Deans, and many others on the left, I suppose progressives can be forgiven for being disheartened that they have had to give up or compromise on just about everything they fought to obtain in this legislation in order to gain the 60 votes necessary to pass a health insurance reform bill in the Senate. For some people, the last straw could be the agreement to include new restrictions on people's ability to obtain insurance coverage for abortion services, in order to obtain Senator Nelson's vote. So is the bill still worth supporting?

I say yes, and this is why. When Congress passes health insurance reform, it will represent the first time in American history that we will have enshrined into law the principle that every single American has the right to decent and affordable health insurance. Previously, unless you were eligible for Medicare or Medicaid, or were a veteran, you did not have that right. Now, however poorly people may think the bill still working its way through Congress protects that right, the idea itself has finally been recognized. It will still take work over many years to make the reality live up to that promise, but it is vitally important that the basic principle finally be recognized. Everyone should be able to get health insurance, whether you are unemployed, or suffer from a pre-existing condition, or whether you have limited means. Right now, health insurance is unavailable for many people in those categories, but after this bill is implemented, it should be available. Once we are agreed on that, then the only thing left to argue about is how to protect and improve that right. In other words, people will be in a much better position to raise hell if they still are not able to find decent and affordable coverage, once they have a right to it in the first place.

I also believe that anyone who thinks it would be better to let this bill go down to defeat and hope that an opportunity will come up in the foreseeable future to pass a better bill, is just dreaming. It took 16 years from the last time health insurance reform went down to defeat for another opportunity to come up to implement reform. The next opportunity could take just as long or longer. And I think that people who want to second guess about strategy, or lick their wounds from feeling betrayed or sold out, are also wasting their time. Congress is corrupt. What else is new? Strategies can be second guessed forever. I would rather concentrate on the fact that a lot of people are doing their best to make a very important change happen.  I would rather celebrate the fact that this compromise still represents, as President Obama stated, "a major step forward for the American people."

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