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COLUMN: Congress must act boldly and for good of America on health care reform

Thursday, December 31, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CST; updated 5:57 p.m. CST, Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Who would of thunk it? I agreed with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

Here is how this happened and why I am not in a corner chastising myself.

For the past month, I have been trying not to write about the health care issue until we knew what the congressional joint committee’s “final” version looks like and presented to both houses of Congress. It seems silly to argue proposed legislation before we know what it says.

I cannot seem, however, to get away from the discussion. Every corner I turn, every door I open, there is a health care reform confrontation. Last Sunday was no different.

All of the talking head shows, all of the major political commentaries, seemed to focus on two subjects — terrorism in the sky and health care on the ground. The saga of Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab will continue to unfold and become the source of too many new conspiracy theories. Did President Obama plan this attack on Christmas like President Bush planned Sept. 11?

More troubling for the American people is the continuing health care reform debate taking place under Lady Liberty. More like a lack of debate of any kind.

I agree with Newt Gingrich, no one person in Congress can tell you what the 2,409 page and almost one-half million words of “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” say. That is a bit shorter than “War and Peace.” And boring.

 I am not capitulating to the “crazy right,” the “disappointed progressives” or the “Bah Humbug caucus” as described by New York Times commentator and “Meet the Press” panelist Paul Krugman. I am just one of those liberals. Yet conservative Gingrich and I agree that the current proposed health care package needs to be scrapped.

The single payer plan is, however, the answer. Newt would not agree. Yes, it would raise taxes, but 100 percent of Americans would have health, vision, dental and other coverage as promised.

During the roundtable discussion on "Meet the Press," Gingrich admitted that the Republicans have done nothing to counter the Democratic health care reform bill other than “yell ‘No’.” He continued that the Republicans have no alternative bill and the Democrats have pushed through a bill that is not reform. I agree.

After reading HR 3590, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act bill passed by the Senate on Christmas Eve, and listening to the pros, cons and otherwise, it appears that this legislation will do nothing but make insurance companies happier and American wallets emptier. Ninety-five percent of all Americans will have “forced” coverage, but, and please note, we are not told who are and what happens to the unfortunate 5 percent.

On “Meet the Press,” Krugman said this is “a landmark piece of legislation; flawed, annoying, underfunded. There are a lot of things wrong with it. …” Yet he still supports the effort as a “move toward getting rational about health care spending ...” Rational? Is Krugman saying that Americans need to settle for second or third best?

Gingrich pulled no punches. “There is bribery in the Senate … where senators are getting all sorts of special deals” just to get something, anything passed. I agree. Gingrich continued, “This is a bad bill.”

I agree.

Gingrich said something else: “Americans are angry with Congress.”

I agree.

So did New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick and NBC reporter Andrea Mitchell.

To paraphrase Friedrich Nietzsche, The most fundamental form of Congressional stupidity is forgetting what we were trying to do in the first place.

That objective, what we were trying to do in the first place, was to achieve true health care coverage for 100 percent of Americans, as promised in the 2008 presidential and congressional campaigns. Today, the Democrats just want a “win.” The Republicans seem to have no idea what they want.

On Dec. 9, General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt said at West Point’s Black and Gold Forum that a future America, “will be shaped by the public and private sectors, and — more than ever — by a willingness to act boldly for the good of the country.”

Now, will Congress go boldly where no Congress has gone before?

David Rosman is an award winning editor, writer, professional speaker and college instructor in communications, ethics, business and politics. You can read more of his commentaries at Inkandvoice.wordpress.com. He welcomes your comments at ProfDave1011@netscape.net.

 


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Comments

Allan Sharrock December 31, 2009 | 9:54 a.m.

David did you even do a search for GOP health bills? Wait, I know the answer.

Here is a link to 8 bills that the GOP has come up with.

http://www.gop.gov/solutions/healthcare

(Report Comment)
Jim Dog December 31, 2009 | 11:14 a.m.

Allan. Shhhhh. Modern Journalism 101: ignore information that does not support your argument.

(Report Comment)
Allan Sharrock December 31, 2009 | 11:22 a.m.

I am beginning to wonder if there are any true journalists left in the world. It doesn't matter if it is NPR, Reuters, or the AP if you read carefully you can see which way (left or right) the person leans.

(Report Comment)
Christopher Foote December 31, 2009 | 1:25 p.m.

@Mr. Sharrock,
I see the goal of health insurance reform as two-fold.
One: decrease the number of the uninsured.
Two: make insurance more affordable for the working class.

Let's look at what the CBO says the GOP bill will accomplish. http://cbo.gov/ftpdocs/107xx/doc10705/hr...
First, the number of people without insurance will stay the same: "The share of legal nonelderly residents with insurance coverage in 2019 would be about 83%, roughly in line with the current share."
What about premiums? “In the large group market, which represents nearly 80 percent of total private premiums, the amendment would lower average insurance premiums in 2016 by zero to 3 percent compared with amounts under current law.”
How do they get these slight reductions in premiums?
"The second source of change in average insurance premiums is changes in the average extent of coverage purchased. Those changes can reflect both changes in the scope of insurance coverage—the benefits or services that are included—and changes in the share of costs for covered services paid by the insurer—known as the “actuarial value.” With other factors held equal, insurance policies that cover more benefits or services or have smaller copayments or deductibles have higher premiums, while policies that cover fewer benefits or services or have larger copayments or deductibles have lower premiums. Provisions in the amendment that would reduce insurance premiums by affecting the amount of coverage purchased include the State Innovations program, which would encourage states to reduce the number and extent of benefit mandates that they impose, and provisions that would allow individuals or affiliated groups to purchase insurance policies in other states that have less stringent mandates."

So, the GOP plan does not address the number of uninsured and it reduces premiums by reducing benefits in health plans.
Perhaps the GOP has a different goal in mind with respect to health insurance reform.
Whatever that goal is, it is not one that addresses the serious health care problems facing this nation.

(Report Comment)
Allan Sharrock December 31, 2009 | 1:42 p.m.

I am not going to argue about the pro's and con's of the Dem vs Rep. bill. I made a statement about how the column claimed there were no GOP bills which is clearly false.

(Report Comment)
David Rosman January 1, 2010 | 12:17 p.m.

Allan, Jim and Christopher -

Ah, my three favorite end of the year readers. Thanks for replying and commentiing.

Some clarification here:
1) This is an OPINION page, not a NEWS page. Thoung I do research every article to the best of my ability, this forum allows me to slant the information to my side of the proverbial fence, as do you.

2) It is my opinion, professional, political and journalistically, that the six health care proposals of which Allan writes are only place holders. As Christopher so properly points out, none accomplish the goal: reform of the current American health care system.

3) The statement that the Republicans have no alternative is from Newt Gingrich, Michael Bloomberg and others who know a lot better than I. I just happen to agree with them.

Seriously - You guys are great and I always appreciate your responses.

Hippo Gnu Ears - David

(Report Comment)

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