Bipartisan health care talk is more about extreme dilution than effective solution. Today’s Wall Street Journal reports that the there is a possible opening in the White House door to the “trigger” option on a public plan. If our leaders move blindly forward to achieve reform to get a token bipartisan stamp, we will be ill treated.
Charting the present path of this debate provides an important case study. First, in a historical election, we fought for and won an overwhelming Democratic victory based on issues that included substantive health care reform that covered every single citizen. Ironically the absence of Edward Kennedy due to medical reasons may have allowed voices opposed to a single-payer plan to prevail early on the legislative front. We seemed destined to have to settle for a compromise that offered a public option among insurance plans. And now the effort to delay, dilute, weaken or outright kill a public option is in full swing.
It is almost like watching high stakes poker as all the industry cards are played to put the emphasis on only the finances of health care. The hospital industry ponying up $155 billion in savings as reported in today’s Washington Post or the drug manufacturers $80 billion are beginning to look like bets placed to represent paper savings now but not give us the real heath care reform we need in the long run. A lot of the bipartisan smog around compromise and cost neutrality ignores one thing: our health!
The danger is that compromise killing essential elemental reform of health care will become capitulation. The economic debate is really cost neutral already because no one is proposing raising costs or even not containing cost. The financial concern is largely about whether payments occur out of our pocket in insurance premiums and co-pays which are controlled by profit pursuit rooted in privilege or out of our pockets in taxes to be paid in pursuit of “happiness” or in other words, health care as a right. An outright majority of 57% said in a New York Times/CBS poll that they are willing to pay higher taxes for health care for all and 59% believe the government would do a better job holding down costs than private insurers. The public’s opinion is being purposely obscured.
We gained political power in millions of votes, thousands of house parties and many small donations this last November. That strength is being challenged by the influence of filibuster threat votes, backroom dealing and millions in big donations. Blow away the smog. Write (again and again) to Snowe and Collins. Copy those letters to the White House to let President Obama know we actively back him on standing firm in our interest for a public option as a part of substantive health care reform.