Thursday, February 25, 2010

Summit Preview

Today's health reform Summit isn't going to be a dramatic scene where everybody rolls up their sleeves and tries to reach agreement. It's all about who looks better to the TV audience. And frankly, I'm mad as hell.

Yesterday, there was a Facebook chat with the White House about health reform. I could barely believe what I was reading. People are still calling this a government take-over of insurance. The public option is dead, folks. And all it was was on option, a choice, that would have been offered alongside private options. Even so, it's no longer on the table -- period. How is what's left a government take-over of insurance? People are gullible and lazy -- too lazy to read the President's plan, which is all of 11 pages long. And opponents of reform just keep telling the same lies, and people keep buying those lies. Isn't this an issue that's important enough for people to do a little reading and research of their own?

Someone on Facebook yesterday accused me of being fooled. I've read the thousands of pages of draft legislation. I bet the person who thinks I've been fooled hasn't. I bet he (it was a he) is just buying some line he's been fed by Fox News. We're all fools if we let this chance at real reform go by.

This is about life and death, not preening for votes. This is about whether people who have insurance will be able to afford to keep it, and whether people who don't have insurance will be able to get it.

This is about the kind of country we want to be -- one with compassion or one that allows our sick to fall by the wayside and drown in their own misery.

There simply is no issue more important to the ideal of America than correcting the vast inequalities in health care.

So, Mr. President, do what you have to do to get us a deal. If that means tort reform, just do it already. If they want interstate insurance plans, fine. Are these good ideas? Absolutely not. Doctors should be held accountable for malpractice. And states should be allowed to regulate insurance sold in their state. But is anything bad enough to be worth tanking the whole thing?

We must have coverage for pre-existing conditions. We must eliminate lifetime and annual caps. We must have individual mandates so the young and healthy are part of the pool and the risk is spread among us all. We must have subsidies. And so if it takes swallowing some bitter pills, we have to do what we have to do.

Because there is no issue that is more important facing America today. Sure, jobs are critical, financial regulation is critical, climate change is critical. But health reform is truly life and death every day for thousands of people.

Yesterday, I got an email from the parent of a profoundly ill child. They make too much for Medicaid but can't find assistance with copays and their whole family is falling apart as a result.

Yesterday, I talked to a woman who's housebound and can't get her IV medicine because the home health company won't cross county lines to travel 8 miles into her county.

Yesterday, I talked to a woman whose son is on Social Security disability, and after rent and utilities, he has $4 per month to live on -- food, clothing, everything. $4.

That was just a little bit of yesterday.

The state of our Union is miserable. Every day we allow this heartache to continue, we become less of an ideal for the world and more of a country that lacks compassion and community. Every day, people die because politicians can't put the right and the good before their desire to be re-elected. Every day, we become less of a role model and more willing to sacrifice our neediest neighbors. And if you think the world doesn't see it, you're wrong -- they do, and it undermines our leadership internationally, as well.

There's still time for the elected officials in Washington to suck it up and do the right thing. But what reason is there to think that they actually will do it? If we end up with reform -- any reform -- it will be a miracle, and for so many people, it will be too little too late.

We are out of time, folks. The Anthem subscribers in California whose rates are going up 39% will join the ranks of the uninsured, along with millions of others in similar circumstances. We are at the tipping point. People are dying every day. Every day, the problems people come to me with are worse, harder, more overwhelming. People are dying, folks. No joke. People are dying and John Boehner is trying to figure out what color tie looks best on TV.

If we don't do this and do it now, we have no right to call ourselves the land of opportunity, a compassionate people, a role model. If we don't stop the slaughter at the hands of insurance executives and do it now, we have no right to call ourselves Americans. Jennifer

1 comment:

  1. Hi Jennifer. Obama did a wonderful job today summarizing the points, remembering what everyone said, and talking straight and specifically about the issues and the hurt people are feeling. He did what an intelligent a passionate moderator does by keeping things going moving. He tried to bring the proceedings back again and again to what the Republicans and Democrats agree on. Actually many of the insurance reforms. He wasn't able to overcome the excessive reliance on talking points by most of the Republicans. In the end, the Republicans didn't really agree to no prior conditions exclusions allowed. Hard to understand that they would let millions of people like you and I just fend for themselves.

    Even some of the Republican callers on C-SPAN mentioned that if they could have one reform, it would be no prior conditions preventing people who are ill from getting health insurance. That's some progress. As we both know Jennifer, when the major reforms like prior conditions, and recissions, and no annual caps are broken out and people are asked if they agree with those they do overwhelmingly. Few people know what's in the health plan. When they find out, they like it. Keep the Faith.