Who am I?Where am I?

26 August 2009

Health Care Reform

During the Democratic Primaries and the General Election campaign last year, the need for progressive reform within the United States became clear. What became equally clear was that, finally, we as a nation had woken up and realized that we did not want more of the same. As such, we elected Barack Obama to elect and implement this progressive agenda. The majority of the people who supported Barack Obama in the election need to make their voices heard immediately on the health care issue. This is part of the progressive agenda that we elected him to implement. Furthermore, this health care needs to include a public option. This option can easily be financed by evaginating the Bush era tax cuts, which enabled corporate fat cats to get rich. This too was part of the reason we elected Barack last year. This was a major plank of the Barack Obama's election platform and if this effort at reforming the health care system fails, it will be a giant step backwards for the Obama administration and for working people who helped get Mr. Obama elected.

Several years ago, I read the book What's the Matter with Kansas by Thomas Frank. This book details how right-wing Republicans have manipulated the masses by obfuscating the issues and have been successful in getting the masses to vote against their own financial interests by using issues of values. The Republicans have played up their "Christian" values by using white fear as tool to get elected and then proceeded to rob the middle and lower-classes blind. A similar thing is occurring now on the issue of health care.

This is a key time. Most members of the House of Representatives and Senators are home for summer recess. During this recess they will be attempting to gauge the mood of their constituency on this bill. The right-wing is trying to demoralize public debate by using disruptive tactics to browbeat the public into accepting that health care reform is wrong. The right-wing is using these disruptive tactics on a quotidian basis to affect the effectiveness of town hall meetings, and push for taxing the benefits of lower and middle class workers and oppose any public option. Unfortunately, so moderate Democrats and Republicans have been sucked into this vortex and are also trying to slow down this process. This is unacceptable and will only allow the pharmaceutical and medical industries to continue reaping the huge profits that they already earn.

Let me be clear: the alternative, nonprofit co-ops, is not feasible. You want to know who else shares my opinion? The markets. Stocks of health insurance companies went through the roof when news that the group of senators trying to negotiate a bipartisan approach to health reform were dropping the public plan. Obviously, investors believe that co-ops offer little competition to private insurers.

For years Democrats viewed any option that did not have a Medicare-for-all reform as a waste of time. The public option allowed for the difference of opinion amongst Democrats to be reconciled. The public option, which would force insurance companies to prove their usefulness or fade away into oblivion, settled some of those worries amongst Democrats and promised a path towards meaningful reform.

Claims by right-wing mouthpieces like Rush Limbaugh that the majority of Americans are happy with the current system of health care and the costs associated are highly questionable. The majority has either too little health care or none at all. Still more are in danger of losing what they have won through their unions as companies try to curb their benefits during the economic crisis. Therefore, the majority of Americans want Medicare improved and expanded.

HR 3200 will come to the floor in September according to House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The Senate finance committee continues to dally back and forth weighing the options available and listening to us...the people. The health committee has also put its legislation forward. These three bills will have to be melded together.

Among the biggest points of contention are:

* Will there be a public option?
* Will the funding come from taxing the rich or from taxing working peoples health care benefits?
* Will immigrants and women's reproductive services, etc. be included?

The Republicans and right-wing groups are spending hundreds of millions of dollars on media ads and hired thugs who are depicting Barack Obama as Hitler when in fact these groups are using the very tactics of intimidation employed Die Fuhrer in the 1920s and 1930s. These groups want to shift the focus of the debate and create confusion to undermine the current overwhelming support for the public option.

There is currently a Klan-like mentality that exists. Look at the spate of recent racist cartoons, the challenge to Sonia Sotomayors confirmation to the Supreme Court, and the depictions of Barack Obama as Hitler as proof of this. This is yet another example of what Frank talked about in his book. The right-wing is trying to break apart the coalition crafted by Obama during the election and get the masses to support something that is not in their best interests. Obama's agenda has been labeled a socialist agenda. Is there anything wrong with a socialist agenda that benefits the majority of the people?

Americans need to educate ourselves about this issue and the write our Senators and Representatives voicing support for this health reform bill. There are numerous sites where one can find out the true facts. This issue is but just one of many critical issues to come. A defeat on this issue could signal a defeat on many other important planks in the progressive platform.

For more information on this critical issue check out the following sites:

Impact of H.R.3200 according to the House of Energy and Commerce

White House Facts on Health Care

City of Los Angeles Resolution on President Obama's Health Care Plan

Health Care for America Now!(Letter to Blue Dog Democrats)

Health Care for America Now!

Barack Obama's Arguments for Health Care

Working America

Alliance for Retired Americans

ALF-CIO (look for the Health Care Town Hall section)

NPR on Canada's Health Care System

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