Posted by: Ernest Barteldes | January 5, 2011

Health Care Cannot Go Away

Here in the US, a Republican-led House of Representatives took oath of office with promises to reduce deficit, fight illegal immigration, create jobs and while they’re at it, try everything they can to destabilize President Barack Obama. Actually, their main priority is to make sure the Democratic president doesn’t get reelected for a second term in two years’ time. Everything else seems not to matter – not the ongoing housing crisis (we don’t talk about it, but it’s still there), unemployment or any other important issues.

On the top of the list for their first days heading the House, Republicans and their Tea Party enablers are vowing to bring a bill to vote that would repeal last year’s Affordable Health Care Act, a law that detractors have labeled ‘Obamacare.’ Their arguments are quite simple: according to their beliefs, the government has no right to interfere with individual citizens’ rights (though they support  government –mandated bans on gay marriage and abortion – go figure),  and that by creating laws that forbid insurance companies from giving coverage to certain people (plus requiring all citizens and legal aliens to purchase insurance), the Federal government is overreaching – basically the kind of Libertarian idea that only holds water in theory. Others also argue that the reform will increase the deficit.

The truth is that Health Care reforms’ benefits outweigh- by far – its flaws. For instance, hospitals cannot refuse to help people who come to their emergency rooms. The uninsured often cannot afford to pay for their services, and in the end the bill ends up being paid by taxpayers, since many private hospitals are partially funded by the state.  As Kathleen Sibelius wrote on an op-ed published on The Chicago Tribune, “The new law is finally allowing many Americans with health conditions like cancer and diabetes to get the care they need. Parents of sick children can no longer be refused coverage because of their child’s pre-existing condition.”

What the GOP wants to do is to hand the reins of the country’s health system back to the bean-counters in their corporate offices where a person is merely a number, not a human being, bringing back situations like the ones depicted on the 2002 Nick Cassavetes film John Q (starring Denzel Washington) in which a desperate dad holds a hospital hostage until its administrators agree to give his sick son a heart transplant – a procedure that his insurance would not cover.

Due to the left’s inaction during the early days of the debate, the right was able to win the hearts and minds of a vast amount of the American public with lies that included ‘death panels’ for the elderly and other absurdities. Instead of reacting, progressives basically sat quietly and home hoping the loud Town Hall meetings would just go away. As an almost direct result, the then-fledgling Tea Party was enabled, and now we have a whole lot more loonies in power with wet dreams about turning back the clock to 1955 – never mind that Ike was, by all counts, a moderate politician.

Any attempt by the House to repeal the health care reform at this time will probably go nowhere – Democrats still have a majority in the Senate, and the president has his veto pen. But what we need is the passion that was felt back in 2008, when so many people overwhelmingly voted for the President in hopes of change. And we need to tell our congressmen and women to get to work on solving the problems at hand. Grandstanding can wait a couple of years.

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