It appears this Christmas Day that Congress is likely to pass Health Reform Legislation. If this historic legislation does pass, it will be the first step towards a long overdue overhaul of our disjointed almost to the point of being dysfunctional health care delivery system.
No one got what they wanted. The health insurance industry spent a reported $260 million trying to kill this reform effort. That’s more than George Bush and John Kerry spent combined running for President in 2000. Big winners were those lobbyists and media who got paid from this effort.
The Republican Party, rendered nearly unrecognizable in this debate from its former status as a responsible political party, couldn’t kill the effort.
Democrats, as per usual, nearly fell apart in their reform efforts but pulled together at the end. Still, the embarrasment of bribing some Senators, notably Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson and Louisiana Sen. Marie Landrieu, to gain their support, is hurtful. Congress has already lost a great deal of its former public respect (in some polls below lawyers, and far below any President) because of this kind of sleaze. Coming on the heels of the bailouts of reckless investment banks, this kind of underhanded wheeling and dealing is going to diminish the praise Obama and the Democrats deserve.
Still, this legislation represents the most important kind of change: A change in direction.
It appears we’re coming out of a decades long descent into selfishness and general over-indulgence. We’re putting a little more emphasis on the “unum” part of our national motto “E pluribus unum,”–”Out of many, one.” This is a good change in direction. We’re beginning to think about our national welfare, for a change, instead of a slavish worship of money and greed.
Nelson and Landrieu’s brazen bribery aside, the total effort will enhance the nation’s fiscal and physical health. And those are excellent goals made possible because of this change in direction. For the first time in a long time, Congress managed to pass something designed to help the average working American instead of further enriching the wealthiest among us.
Much more needs to be done. The overhaul is just beginning. Once small business discovers that even this small step will save them money on health insurance (as opposed to what their official organizations maintain) a powerful political force for further improvements will be unleashed. True small businesses are not represented even by their own official organizations, which are in reality dominated by large corporations.
And the public option, which didn’t make this first effort, will certainly resurface. Why? Because all the organizations who study reform know that this is the best option to increase competition within the industry. And at bottom that’s the problem. Private industry isn’t always the best option for providing universally needed services.
This debate/discussion has begun in earnest. More will be proposed and enacted. As it should be. It’s a far too important reformation for America.
If you want a good, non partisan, look at health care reform, visit the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation website here.