Thursday, November 5, 2009

Is Imperfect Better than Nothing?

There are flaws in the House health care bill, and I'm likely to think the Senate version is even more flawed once it's released. But do I agree with the liberals in Congress who think they should vote NO if there's no strong public option? Or with the conservative Democrats who think they should vote NO because there's imperfect language relating to the use of federal funding for abortion (more on this another day -- but for now, suffice it to say I think the language is sufficiently clear that no federal funds will be used to pay for abortions)? Or with Joe "the Plumber" Lieberman, who thinks nothing would be better than a bill with a public option?

No, I don't. And here's why, from this morning's Politico:

“The civil rights community, Whitney Young, Roy Wilkins, Martin Luther King Jr. — all these people were for a big, comprehensive Civil Rights Act,” Clyburn told the caucus. “Johnson realized he couldn’t get in one fell swoop all that they were asking for and made it very clear to them in the negotiations: ‘If you want me to put this bill on the floor, I’ll put the bill on the floor, but it’s not going to pass. If you want to pass something, then we have to go into this bill to see what will pass.’”

The voting rights provisions came out and didn’t pass until 1965, after the presidential election. And while the 1964 law outlawed discrimination in the private sector, it wasn’t until 1972 — when Clyburn was on the staff of a South Carolina governor — that the same requirement was imposed on state and local governments, which had resisted the federal mandates.

“I didn’t want anyone to think that if you don’t get everything you want in this health care bill right now, that’s the end of the game,” Clyburn said. “What we need to do is lay a foundation. Get passed what we can pass that will have a meaningful impact on people’s lives — not put too many of our people in jeopardy — and then build upon it later. It’s a long road."

Yes, it is a long road. It's been a long road. Martin Luther King railed against injustice in health care in the 1960's. Lefties have been talking about universal healthcare as long as I can remember. The Clintons did their best in the 1990's and we lost -- perhaps in part because we strove for perfection, for the total fix.

I am in favor of single payer universal healthcare -- period. No exchange. No public option. No premiums. No subsidies. No managed care. None of it.

But I will support -- indeed, cheer -- whatever we get this time around. If we just get rid of pre-existing condition exclusions and lifetime caps, things will be better. If there are caps on out of pocket expenses, that would be very good. Subsidies for the middle class and expanded Medicaid will go a long way towards covering the uninsured.

Will insurance still be too expensive? Yes, it will because Congress is not prepared to go toe to toe with the insurance lobby or the pharmaceutical lobby or the health care provider lobby. We are not going to get it all done this time.

But what we do get done will be a step in the right direction -- a big step, a first step that makes next steps pretty inevitable.

I don't need perfect. I just need progress. Jennifer

1 comment:

  1. Jennifer, Thank you so much for your commentary. I am not always clear on what is going on in Washington (my fault) but I am glad to be plugged into your blog to help me keep track on things and know when it is important to call and write my reps... Good luck with the surgery, I have had three of them so far.