The Health Care summit was held yesterday in the Garden Room at Blair House in Washington DC. The summit discussions were based around four themes: controlling costs, insurance reforms, reducing the deficit and expanding coverage.
Now, the reason for my catty subject line is simple: are we just talking about this or is this an actual precursor to serious action?
From the research I've done on yesterdays meeting, I can't really say. I can tell you that the partisan hectoring is still alive and well. And I can tell you that Obama does seem to be at least trying to bring left and right a little bit closer to the reality of America's middle ground.
"My hope had been there might be enough areas of overlap to realistically think about moving forward without a situation in which everyone just goes to their respective corners and this ends up being a political fight," Obama said.
Unfortunately, there was a lot of going into their respective corners, particularly from the Republicans. Many on the right suggest that the bill just get scrapped and that we start over. The only trouble is that there are many other issues that need a place on the senate and house floors. Republicans know this. If this doesn't go through, we won't see another try for a long time, leaving the Health Care issues abandoned and still broken.
"There is a reason we voted no," Eric Cantor (R) - Virginia, said to Obama. "It does have to do with the philosophical differences you pointed out. It also has to do with our fear that Washington can define what are essential health benefits."
So, Representative Cantor, it's better to have private investors in the top 1% decide what are essential health benefits? Ideally speaking (now this may not be the case), but ideally speaking, our representatives are chosen by us to make choices, not to throw that responsibility onto a private company. Again, as I've said before, the government is there to GOVERN, not to hand it off to folks like Proctor and Gamble and say, "Hey, you figure it out. Oh, and while you're at it, there's a lovely place in the Hamptons I've been looking at."
George Miller, (D) - California, brought some personal flare to the proceedings, confessing that he had two artificial hips, arthritis and a kidney stone. In other words, he'd be dead in the water in this insurance market pool, having pre-existing health issues.
Tom Harkin (D) - Iowa, made a plea to not segregate health care on the basis of one's health status. He also made the point to not try and reform health care incrementally. Simply nitpicking one health issue at a time will lead to sky-rocketing premiums, as states have seen in the past, for example the 90s in states like New Hampshire and Massachusets. He said that the whole system needs to be changed at once, otherwise it will never change.
Also on the table were the possibilities of reconciliation and filibustering. Of course, Republicans, in particular Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky warned Democrats of consequences if reconciliation were to be used.
So, what does this all add up to? You tell me. Does it look or sound like we're getting anywhere? It looks to me like Democrats are making a case and Republicans are just shooting it down on the sheer principle that it's from the left.
The way I see it? Here you go.
The US is the most unhealthy industrialized country in the world. Our health care system is based off of the thinking that the sicker you are, the more money pharmaceutical companies make, so keep popping those pills, buddy!
And those pharmaceutical companies have their lobbyists filling politicans' pockets with the lovely money we spend on their poison...mmm, what a tangled web we weave.
So, what to do? I believe Rockefeller says it best:
"This is a rapacious industry that does what it wants, unknown to the people of America except on an individual basis," Democratic senator, Jay Rockefeller said.
Exactly. "Unknown to the people of America..." That's the biggest problem of all. Bigger than the right and left, bigger than the he-said, she-saids of Washington politics. If the people don't know what's going on, don't care, there is no pressure on Washington to get anything done. It's our job, not theirs to make sure we get what we need.