Well, we now have a bill passed through the House of Representatives that hopes to reform our dysfunctional healthcare system. I actually watched part of the floor debate late saturday nite and to be honest there was only a few strong speeches from the Republicans that nite, while there were several strong and persuasive speeches by Democratic leaders, especially that of Rep. Weiner (yes that's his real name). He held up a copy of the Insurance package that each member of Congress and employee of the Federal government receives and asked the body shouldn't every American receive this kind of choice when it comes to their healthcare? He made a very good point, for several reasons but primarily because members of Congress receive excellent healthcare because they get a choice of several different plans and more importantly they will continue to have this great health insurance even after they leave Congress! To me, this is ridiculus because even if a person is elected for just once term (whether it be 2 years for House members and 6 years for Senators) they get government-aided healthcare for the rest of their lives...shouldn't they at least have to several terms before we start having to pay for their healthcare? This rationale is the reason many Americans and even several politicans have called on Congress to fully embrace the "Public Option" and be forced to take it themselves to prove it is a worthwhile venture and to be honest that does makes some sense to me...but the primary problem with this is it would cost far too much to be even remotely viable..
On the issue of costs, this bill is trully a hard pill to swallow...over $900billion over the next ten years according to the CBO (Congressional Budget Office) and is "paid for" according to many leading Democrats, something I and most Republicans find unlikely. While directly this bill may not add to the deficit, it's the indirect effects that will likely affect the growing deficit. For example, one sticky issue that wasn't even covered in this House bill is what will happen to healthcare premiums under this bill...which sounds crazy because how can this massive bill is...which just proves what the Democrats' real goal from the start was...Coverage not Cost. Now this isn't a terrible position to have because to be honest you compare our healthcare statistic to ALL other industrialized nations and it will make you angry and disgusted...but as this time in our nation, with a still ever-present recession to deal with, Cost is what most Americans are concerned about and most believe we can worry about greater coverage later. As of right now, no one knows what such a bill would do for those of us who already have healthcare insurance either from private providers or employee-provided coverage. Does that make any sense to anyone out there??
Another sticky part of this bill is the idea of an individual mandate. This mandate would mean every American would have to get health insurance or else get fined by the government. Though there are subsidizes for those who can't afford such, this is the current aim of the Public Option. To many, including the President and myself, its makes some sense. Think about it, everyone is required by law to have car insurance in most states and which is more important your car's safety or your health? But this bill warps this good idea, because though most states do require you to have car insurance the federal government doesn't. This idea of the federal government telling its citizens that it has to buy something or else is not only ridiculus but borderline unconstitutional. An individual mandate should, like the Public Option, be left to each individual state to decide. Good thought...Terrible follow-through
Finally, the idea of not passing any kind of reform is also very difficult to comprehend. While I would be ok with it being delayed til the economy was stronger and could better handle it, I don't honestly believe the Republicans will be anymore accomodating with this issues in few years then they are now. If this is going to be our only chance to pass some reform then now is the best time to do it but I'm not sure if the final bill that emerges will be the best reform possible but that is the hazard of politics. Compromises are a necessity in politics and to hope for a perfect bill is setting yourself up for disappointment..but I often wonder why it is so hard for lawmakers to take a logical approach to the issues that affect all Americans today...perhaps I am the one being overly hopeful...but regardless this nation desperately needs some reform especially when compared to ALL other industrialized nations in the world.
So what should we, as American citizens, do about this Healthcare reform debate? The thing to do is do lots of research on all the proposals and bills and write/email/call your congressman/congresswoman or senator and tell them what you think because if you sit on the sidelines and don't put in your input you might just get something you don't like or support...so Pay Attention citizens!