Universal Healthcare? Who are we kidding?

I remember during the campaign, there was talk about universal healthcare and trying to cover all of the 45+ million people that have no health insurance.  And then, Barack Obama was elected and the economy kept tanking and the US was still fighting two wars.  But then healthcare became an issue again.  Notably, because Obama made it an issue.  I will give him some credit for continuing to fight the good fight.  It is very likely that nothing would be happening with this issue if he didn’t keep talking about it.  So I say, kudos to you, Obama.  But the problem (it’s only a problem when we are trying to fix issues like this; it is a godsend when someone like Bush is trying to destroy Social Security or something like that) is that the men and women of our wonderful Congress have to actually agree on a bill and vote to pass it.  So while we have a Democratic majority in the House and the Senate, we do not have progressive Democrats in control of anything.  And we have the wonderful health insurance lobby that likes to pass out money to Congress like candy to children.  And, of course, the kids in Congress will gobble it up.

Now, let’s get real, the only real way to cover every single person would be to have a single-payer system.  Basically, that would be to expand Medicare to everyone, not just the poor or the elderly, but everyone.  This is what the conservatives call (cue scary music) “socialized medicine.”  This is what every other industrialized country has.  And look at what it has done to them.  It has not turned any of those countries into the Soviet Union or anything close to that.  But hey, what’s a little misrepresentation among friends.  Unfortunately, anything resembling single-payer has a snowball’s chance in hell of passing.  And Obama knew that, and that’s why I don’t think he even tried (or perhaps he’s not the socialist that the conservatives said he was).

Instead, he has gone with a so-called “public option” which would create a system that would compete with the private insurers but it would be government-run.  It would essentially be a Medicare-type program that people would be able to choose from when deciding what health insurance they wanted.  They could choose a private insurer or the public option.  It would simply be another choice.  Of course, this too is being fought because if the private insurers are forced to compete with the government then they will go out of business or because the government option is never going to work because the government can’t possibly do something better than the private sector, depending on who you ask.  And there are some that are saying both at the same time.  I know that seems contradictory, but contradiction is what Joe Lieberman is all about.

But to see someone like Tom Daschle saying that Obama should drop the public plan from his proposal is disheartening.  Or not.

“We’ve come too far and gained too much momentum for our efforts to fail over disagreement on one single issue,” the Senator and one-time HHS Secretary nominee said, according to ABC News.

But later there was this,

“A spokesman for the former majority leader called the Huffington Post to insist that Daschle is “still committed to the public plan” and was not urging Obama to drop it from his proposal.”

Both of the above quotes are from the same Huffington Post article.  I would hope that instead of telling Obama and the nation what can’t be done, Daschle would work to get the bill (with the public option included) passed.  Or could it be that money is playing the role it often does in politics: the root of all evil.

So we see a lot of talk back and forth on the right way to go with very little being done.  But I was somewhat heartened to see that Chris Dodd is committed to getting things done.

I think we need to start a campaign that says, if we don’t have a public option in healthcare, the terrorists win.  Maybe then we might be able to get some Republicans on board.  Maybe.


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