BPW Foundation's Women Misbehavin' Blog

Well behaved women never make history

So close. Yet so far away.

Posted by egehl on January 27, 2010

So close.  Yet so far away.  It’s amazing how one day can completely transform a landscape and erase months of grueling work and momentum.

No one can deny this country needs health care reform.  Our system is not working.  Just ask the millions of uninsured, those who have gone bankrupt due to health care costs, or the people with pre-existing conditions that can’t get coverage. Americans have to rely on an unregulated insurance industry, which fails on most counts because costs are exorbitant, outcomes are poor, coverage is restricted, and patient satisfaction is low.  The time is now for reform and it’s scary to think all of it could slip away because of one political race.

It’s obvious Democrats and health care advocates have an uphill battle on their hands to get meaningful legislation passed.  After the Massachusetts election, Democrats are now shying away from efforts to clear a comprehensive package because of fears surrounding the upcoming election.  As of now there aren’t enough votes in the House to send President Obama the Senate-passed health care bill so other options are being considered.  One such option is passing only the most politically popular pieces of the health overhaul as discrete legislation.

This is a situation of trying to make everyone happy and nothing gets accomplished. And as Obama said last week, “the things that are non-controversial end up being the things that don’t solve the problem”. If the overall reform objectives are access to insurance and controlling costs, it’s hard to see how Members of Congress will be able to compromise on anything.  And if Congress decides to go the route of passing “bite size pieces” of the bill, what impact will that really have on our health care system?

Since it looks like we will have to accept only incremental changes to the system then priority should be placed on cracking down on harmful insurance practices such as denying coverage because of medical problems, expanding Medicaid, and helping small businesses and low-income people afford coverage.  In the end, without these key elements Congress is completely missing the boat and not helping the American people.

On the Senate side, a top Democrat is saying that the majority party should take a break of up to six weeks in the health care debate to allow the caucus to regroup and refocus on how to move a bill forward.  This timeframe has dire consequences because the Senate is expected to take up and start working on a jobs bill after the President’s State of the Union address.  As a result health care could easily get lost in the shuffle as this year’s legislative priorities start to take precedent.

With the Congressional setback of Scott Brown’s election and political emotions running high, it is up to the President to guide the legislative process. He must calm Democrats so that a bill can be accomplished without jeopardizing their seats.  I fear that if health care reform is not tackled now under the Obama Administration it will be years before another President will take up this extremely complicated and politically divisive issue.  It will be become a policy albatross for years to come.  And it’s scary to think how expensive and inaccessible health care will be in the future.

To leave our health care system alone without any changes or robust improvements is abominable.  We have the most expensive, least reliable health care system in the developed world and everyone knows it whether you are for or against this reform bill.  This was supposed to be the time when things finally got accomplished and people put aside their differences.

And finally for those of you celebrating about possibly derailing reform altogether, congratulations you’ve been able to keep the same incompetent system that excludes 46 million people, doubles in cost every 10 years and guarantees that if you’re sick or lose a job you’ll probably have to go bankrupt just to get care.  That’s certainly cause to celebrate.

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4 Responses to “So close. Yet so far away.”

  1. Alissa said

    Couldn’t have said it better myself. Great post.

  2. Joyinhome said

    Go Eli!

    All these people who think that it doesn’t impact their lives because they are insured and/or have the money to pay outright. Guess what?!? 1)Your taxes will continue to increase because it will be in part covering those who can’t afford routine care and end up in the emergency room; 2) Your premiums will continue to rise without notice because they can.

    WE NEED REFORM…it’s not working. Other countries have figured it out. We are quick to tout the U.S. and look down our nose at others- yet we can not figure out what other countries have: how to provide affordable health care and quality education.

  3. gansie said

    i nominate elisabeth for healthcare czar!

  4. Im ok with starting all over on the healthcare bill and i believe it should be aired on c-span every step of the way,That would force the reps and those few dems that are against healthcare reform to keep honest and work with those for healthcare reform in a way that is available for Americans to see and understand and the reps would stop their lying tv ads against healthcare reform.imo thats the best way to go with it at this point.

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