The Health Care “debate” continues to rage as the Republicans have managed, despite their emphatic drubbing in the past election cycle, to once again control the agenda…The Tea Party was out in force trying to overwhelm the debate by the politics of disruption.
Americans spoke loudly and clearly in electing Barack Obama and taking large majorities in both houses of Congress with the overriding message being that we are ready for Change. Obama and the Democrats campaigned widely on many issues, but affordable health care for all, regardless of income or social status was perhaps the most important and highly visible issue of all. This is not some hidden agenda that the Democrats conspired to push after their victory. Everyone who voted Democrat in the last election did so knowing that real health care reform was a priority.
Of course considering the wealth and power of the insurance companies, drug companies, and corporate health care system, implementation is not an easy matter but the concept is quite simple. We are a civilized people and with that comes the responsibility to provide for the health of our citizens, just as is done throughout the developed world. We are first in gross domestic product (GDP) and yet have the highest health care costs, rank 37th in overall health care performance, and 72nd in overall level of health according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
In the past weeks and months the far right has somehow succeeded in scaring the public into questioning the very basis for universal health care. The reality is not why, but how. Real reform will be a simple, single payer system, just as Medicare is a government run single payer system. To appease the Republicans, Obama crafted a public option in addition to existing private health care as a compromise solution. But rather than see this as a bi-partisan compromise, the right has refused to even consider any public option at all and has somehow painted even that as a commie-socialist conspiracy.
How have they managed to do such a thing? They do so by generating a bottomless pit of false allegations that are broadcast so widely and rapidly that it becomes a full time job to refute. They have taken Obama’s honest and sincere desire to work in a bi-partisan manner and sabotaged it by stalling in Congress with phony compromise legislation that now turns out was disingenuous from the start as they never intended to pass any health care reform whatsoever. They do so by appealing to the relatively small right wing fanatical fringe (considerably further to the right of John McCain) who feel that all government is intrinsically evil and have seized on this issue as their latest rallying cry. These right wing nuts have managed to organize themselves well and swooped down on the town hall meetings that many congressmen and women have been holding to discuss the issues in good faith and get input on how best to structure the reforms. They are not there to contribute or exchange in dialog but rather to disrupt and discredit, making a mockery of the process as well as fools of themselves. By manufacturing what appears like a grass roots movement they have intimidated the media into providing them a disproportionate voice.
At the recent town hall meeting of our local congressman, Tim Bishop, these anti government protestors were certainly out in force. But the local media coverage (e.g., Newsday) only seemed to hear their voices when in fact there were probably more but better behaved supporters of health care reform present. The media’s role is not so innocent here, however. During the eight year reign under Bush-Cheney, liberal voices of dissent were always marginalized, sometimes with the encouragement and cooperation of the administration. For example, the administration made a habit of only talking with groups of pre-screened supporters and if someone with differing views managed to slip by and get to ask a tough question they would be escorted out with little or no media recognition. Despite those attempts to control the discussion and quash dissent about the Iraq war, people finally figured it out and eventually saw through the administration spin-meisters.
When Obama first started his campaign his message for change was marginalized too. But through his skillful ability to communicate, cut through the bull, and persevere people began to believe he could actually get elected and with a Democratic congress could begin to establish the fundamental changes we need. Perhaps we Democrats have been guilty of being naïve in thinking now that we won fair and square, it’s our turn and the right will step aside. So now we know that even our hard fought and legitimate democratic victories are not sufficient. The fight for the changes that we believe are just, including universal health care for all, will take more. And just as we mobilized for Obama’s historic victory, so too is everyone’s support needed to push these reforms the final mile.
The following video is a short expose about how the insurance companies (in this case CIGNA) are focused on maximizing profit at the expense of the health of their customers.