How many times has Barack Obama stated that health care is a basic human right? How often has he adamantly spoken that all Americans deserve equal human rights? Too many to count.
What we now have on the table, disguised by political spin, is hardly reform giving all of our citizens equal access and care. With a sitting Democratic President and majorities in the House and Senate, The United States has sold down the river the reform that over 70% of Americans want. The exception, of course, are the approximately 600 lawmakers in Congress who will get to hold on to their Cadillac insurance policies. Mission accomplished. Now that is democracy (it seems never to be “messy” when the issues concern those in power).
To enact a measure that creates and magnifies different tiers of health care is reminiscent of our battle for civil rights. Sure: the Civil War freed the slaves. However, it has taken almost 150 years for the concept of freedom to become a reality. We had the Jim Crow laws. Then we had separate but equal. This was the way we defined our Constitutional-granted equality for over a century.
Change takes time, especially alterations to our social structure. Certainly, with the proposed health care reform relegating the uninsured to the rolls of Medicaid and placing the private insurers in charge of policing themselves creates a double standard of care for this country. Have we learned nothing from our past? Even President Obama seems to be willing to settle for some rights now, as opposed to equal rights.
Do not tell me that I speak from emotionalism. Damn straight. Why should a poor person have to wait for care because of the red tape involved in securing Medicaid? Why should a policyholder be denied care based on the effect such care will have on the bottom line of his insurer? Oh yes, they can appeal the decision, but most likely, for the sickest of patients, they will be long dead before a decision is reversed. Is that the kind of equal rights our Congressmen have also? Until every American can walk into a clinic or hospital, sign their name and receive timely and decent care, our dedication to equal rights in this country is about as emphatic as it was 150 years ago.
The politicians can offer lip service and spin all they want. If their ultimate goal (and it appears this is their real motivation) is to keep their cushy jobs, which legally fosters the acceptance of funds meant to sway their votes plus the divine benefits such as incredible health care and full salaries upon retirement, the Democrats are making a huge mistake here. If they think by passing a watered-down, virtually empty piece of legislation will give them the right to claim victory for their own benefit at the polls, they need to think again. With 70% of Americans supporting a public option, America will show up on Election Day 2010 and throw their cavalier asses right out of office. It does not matter that the Republicans have nothing better to offer: the fact remains that Americans who voted for this President of hope and change and elected majorities to both houses of Congress are mad as hell. If they actually do show up at the polls (and when Americans stay home, the GOP is always the victor), the political pendulum will be reversed. History has proven this but once again, the short-sighted politicians cannot see farther than their own pockets.
Everything in life comes with risk. Surely President Obama took many risks to get where he is. Why then, is he playing it so safe now? Is it to be able to say that he passed health care reform during his first year in office? More semantic spin with no substance. This political novice has news for him and his Democratic cronies: by allowing one man, Joe Lieberman**, a Senator who caucuses with the Democrats, to bring down health reform for an entire country, is degrading. They have assigned, and accepted, the role of “goat” to one of their own. Further, they will then have to go over to the Republican side and anoint a “hero”, perhaps Olympia Snowe, to be the savior of this health care legislation. Not a good omen, and certainly a political strategy worthy of shooting oneself in the foot, for the 2010 elections.
There is nothing “equal” or “right” about the current health care legislation. President Obama was disingenuous in his campaign stance that health care is a universal right because now that he is in office, this “right” seems negotiable. Our President and lawmakers can harp all they want about initiating real reform for our country. When your housekeeper cannot get the same health care that you do, when your grown children can afford only the most catastrophic of health care policies, when the vast majority of Americans do not have access to the exact medical care as do our elected representatives, when our Constitutional rights are threatened because of our many-tiered health care plan, equality of human rights is just a term of endearment; it bears no resemblance to what is spelled out in our celebrated Constitution. Did we not fight the Revolutionary War against England because we were denied freedom and equal rights? To what end? To establish the exact system for which we battled so long and hard against? One class system replacing another does not make for a free, equal society.
If President Obama and our elected officials sincerely believe that decent and affordable health care is an unalienable right, they will move to put effective policies in effect, rather than using “procedural obstructions” as excuses. Funny thing: I do not see our government officials horse-trading away their health benefits for the sake of national cost-saving measures. (Please note: The one exception is Senator Sherrod Brown, who has refused Senate health care coverage until all Americans can get the same degree of care at the same price.) The ultimate slap in the face: not only are the President and the almost 600 members of Congress denying Americans the same benefits as they have, but they are also making us pay for their coverage. Talk about adding insult to injury. Talk about discrimination and class distinctions.
I will not settle for what we can get instead of getting what we need. Compromise may be the deciding factor in our form of government. However, the compromise always seems to be on the part of the people, never the law givers. Mr. President and our majority legislators of Congress: it is time to make your rights equal and available to all Americans.
I’ll get straight to the point.
Here’s the deal, Senate leaders are all over Washington claiming they finally have a healthcare reform bill they can pass, as long as they remove the public option. After all, they say, even without a public option, the bill still “covers 30 million more Americans.” The problem is that’s not really true.
What they are actually talking about is something called the “individual mandate.” That’s a section of the law that requires every single American buy health insurance or break the law and face penalties and fines. So, the bill doesn’t actually “cover” 30 million more Americans — instead it makes them criminals if they don’t buy insurance from the same companies that got us into this mess.
A public option would have provided the competition needed to drive down costs and improve coverage. It would have kept insurance companies honest by providing an affordable alternative Americans can trust. That’s why, without a public option, this bill is almost a trillion dollar taxpayer giveaway to insurance companies.
We must act fast. Both Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid and Democratic Senators need to hear from you. Please stop whatever else you are doing and make the calls right now.
Senator Harry Reid
DC: (202) 224-3542
Carson City: (775) 882-7343
Las Vegas: (702) 388-5020
Reno: (775) 686-5750
Call your Democratic Senator too — Senate Switchboard: (202) 224-3121
Without the choice of a public option, forcing Americans to buy health insurance isn’t just bad policy, it’s political disaster for Democrats — a ticking time-bomb for years to come.
Does anyone think Republicans won’t use this against Democrats in 2010?
What about in 2014 after the mandate goes into effect and the press reports all the horror stories of Americans forced to choose between paying their monthly health insurance bill to Aetna or paying rent?
The mandate is toxic and Democrats will own it. By the 2016 presidential election, is there any wonder how this will play out for Democrats?
The message is simple: No public option? No Mandate!
Thank you for everything you do,
Jim Dean, Chair
Democracy for America