One Small Step for Congress, One Giant Leap Towards Universal Healthcare

At least since the days of the first progressive president, Teddy Roosevelt (a Republican, no less) Universal Healthcare has been debated in our nation’s capital. Debated, but not passed. The health care industry has successfully blocked measure after measure aimed at reform, with the last notable attempt in the early 1990s. Until today. Today, Christmas Eve, 2009, the Senate voted 60-39 in favor of some reforms to the health care system. Is there universal health care in the bill? No. Not yet. A public option? No. Not that, either, although it is included in the House version. But the bill does prevent the health insurance industry from denying benefits or charging higher premiums because of preexisting conditions. And it contains complex provisions which are designed to allow some 30 million working poor the ability to have health insurance.

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But after some 80 years of trying, reform finally got through the Senate. One senator had this to say:

If the measure were worthwhile, contended Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., “they wouldn’t be rushing it through Congress on Christmas Eve.”

As it turns out, the Christmas Eve vote was due to Republican obstructionism, since a 51-49 vote by the Democratic majority could have been obtained on a much better bill months ago. It also turns out that President Obama’s efforts to bipartisanship meant bipartisanship within the Democratic Party. The Republican Party has drawn a line in stone – to include any of them in a bipartisan bill means the bill must totally conform to their demands. In fact, during the course of the health care debate, the Republican Party set for itself a new “purity test” consisting largely of bullet points aimed at obstructing a progressive agenda. While the Republican Party is thinning its ranks to the “pure” the Democratic Party has opened its ranks to conservative candidates, “Blue Dog Democrats.” It was their votes, and the vote of “Independent” Joe Lieberman, that had to be cajoled into breaking a filibuster and passing the first-ever reform of the health care system in this country. It may be a small step now, but Progressives can use this battle as proof positive that we need more progressive candidates to run, not only against Republicans, but against Blue Dog Democrat and certain “independent” candidates as well. This Christmas Eve vote of the Senate is but a small step for Congress, but a giant leap towards the day when no American goes without health care. Peace and Blessings.

10 thoughts on “One Small Step for Congress, One Giant Leap Towards Universal Healthcare

  1. BnF,

    thanks for that post. It is really a big step forward, even if there is still a way to go. Many more Americans will have health insurance in the future. Would you even have gone that far with John McCain in the White House?

    The bill is, or rather will be still a good way from perfect, but it is a first step as you so aptly put it. When Americans realize that it is so much better for them personally to be able to have insurance there will be more reform I’m sure of it.

    Have a Happy Christmas you and your family!

  2. Hey BnF! Merry Christmas!

    But the bill does prevent the health insurance industry from denying benefits or charging higher premiums because of higher premiums.

    Is that what you meant that line to say?

    It may be a small step now, but Progressives can use this battle as proof positive that we need more progressive candidates to run, not only against Republicans, but against Blue Dog Democrat and certain “independent” candidates as well.

    Howard Dean’s 50 state strategy, and Rahm Emanuel’s picking “blue dogs” to run in swing districts, had a lot to do with the House majority we have now. What will be interesting to see, next election, is whether the Teacup Poodles will succeed in nominating Far Right candidates to run. If we could count on that, we could risk Progressives in those districts. Those districts have blue dogs for a reason, because Rahm didn’t think anyone more liberal could be elected. He had to make those decisions before he knew who the Dem presidential nominee would be, and how big a victory Obama was able to get. The worst thing that could happen to the Progressive agenda is to run unsuccessful candidates in 2010. 2012 could be a different story if the economy turns around, but I don’t know how they’re going to do that without adding manufacturing jobs.

    My Rep is the now infamous Dr. Parker Griffith, who just changed parties. I think he was basing his decision to do that on the likelihood that he would lose as a Dem. Trouble for him is, he’s just as likely to lose anyway, as is Arlen Specter in Pennsylvania. That’s no longer my problem, I’ll be supporting the Dem nominee. What will be interesting is whether Bud Cramer, the just retired Dem. Rep, continues to endorse Dr. Griffith as a Republican, or endorses the Dem candidate here.

  3. Roberts – thanks for catching the typo – fixed it.

    EV, thanks. I’ve traveled Europe – enough to know that the deaths of 5+million Jews was the price Europe had to pay to learn “never again.” There is a collective sense about human rights and caring for one’s fellow human in Europe that is missing in the United States. I hope that it does not take a similar holocaust on American soil to come to that same state of being.

    Zooey, your diatribe on Sunday’s Post, “Never Give Up” was right on point. Those who dwell in the darkness must be dragged, kicking and screaming, into the light. Teabaggers, NeoChristians, pseudo conservatives, must be helped in spite of themselves, for the sake of the rest of us. The have the money, and the power that goes with money.

    We have the Love, and the power that goes with Love.

  4. Health Care Story WITH good Insurance:

    On Monday, Dec 21, my grandson fell and hurt his arm. For three days, he just stated that his arm hurt and then on Thursday morning, he asked his mommy (my daughter) for a bandaide to put on his boo boo. My daughter asked him where on his arm and he indicated from his shoulder to his hand. She compared both arms and immediately knew that it was something more than just a little “boo boo”. She took him to Urgent Care who sent her to the hospital for an xray in the radiology department who after taking the picture sent her home and said that they would call the Urgent Care doctor. Urgent Care gets back to my daughter, tells her that there is a fracture and that my grandson needs to see a Pediatric Orthopedic Specialist at Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia(CHOP) which is an hour drive from her house. CHOP Orthopedics is closed until Monday so she asked the doctor at Urgent Care what she should do in the meantime and was told “put his arm in a sling”. End of story from the doctor. She calls me, I get angry at the system and tell her to make a splint and I explain to her how do it. Today, she finally gets to go back to the hospital ER and the doctor puts on a temporary plaster cast because they didn’t have a small fiber glass cast for a 3 year old. The ER doctor and the head nurse were shocked and angry that the Urgent Care doctor didn’t do anything and that radiology didn’t send her immediately to the ER for treatment. The praised her for at least splinting the arm and told her that if something like this should happen again, to come directly to the ER. Radiology will collect from my daughter’s good health insurance for not sending her for proper treatment. The Urgent Care facility will collect from this good health insurance policy for NOT treating my grandson. Now imagine if my daughter didn’t have any health insurance.

    • OMG, that is terrible, Cats. I hope all that dinking around by “medical professionals” doesn’t cause any lasting harm to your grandson. How awful that they would play with his health that way. Without good health insurance, I imagine he would have been sent home with an ice pack and told to stop complaining.

      Both my youngest son and I have had problems with our Urgent Care — problems that ended up being more costly and a waste of time that could have been spent in treatment (or more effective treatment). Very frustrating, and potentially dangerous.

  5. Boy, Cats, that boy has a high pain threshold. I had a green tree fracture in my right ulna and thought I was going to die. Back then, the GP had an office in his home and was on call 24/7. He had enough equipment there to do just about anything short of an organ transplant. He used a fluoroscope to examine and set the bone and applied a plaster cast. His anesthetic was a morphine shot and we left with a small stack of codeine pills and a script for more. The total bill was less than $50 and insurance refunded it all.
    This brings to light several differences in the health industry.

    1. The insurance companies did not require a co-pay.
    2. The physician did not have to hire staff or a service to interface with insurance companies.
    3. The insurance industry did not set allowable rates so physicians, hospitals, clinics and labs would have to pass higher rates to those without insurance in order to cover costs.
    4. GPs had the capacity to perform procedures that are now delegated to specialists.
    5. Basic natural drugs were not restricted by the government.
  6. Walt – my grandson is only three years old so his bones are still very spongy. I understand that he really screamed when he fell. After that, it took him three days to really complain. He is a tough little guy.

    We should do away with having insurance companies pay for doctor’s visits. When I was young, I always had to pay for the visit to the doctor. It was usually an affordable charge, something that would be about $50.00 in today’s money. We got screwed when HMOs became the norm.

  7. Cats,
    When I was little, a routine visit cost about $5 and we did pay for that. In those days, you could get a car for under $1000, but a TV set went for about $800 if you were satisfied with a 4 inch screen.

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