Health Reform — You Say ToMAYto, I Say ToMAHto

Fri, July 31, 2009

Changing the World

tomatoes punditmomThings always get a little heated in the nation’s capital this time of year.  July and August along the Potomac tend to be humid and steamy and that makes it hard for anyone to compromise and negotiate in a bipartisan way.  Not to mention that it’s awfully difficult to find happy people when they’re all having bad hair days!

So I guess it shouldn’t be a surprise that we find ourselves with only herky-jerky momentum for health care legislation.  Or health insurance legislation.  Or whatever you want to call it — I really don’t care, I just want to know that we live in a country where we really do care about the tens of millions of families and children who need just basic medical access and that we’re not going to split hairs on what we call it, as long as we can get it done.

I know everyone is concerned about money.  Trust me — I’m not happy about the prospect of premiums going up more.  Given the work situation here at Chez PunditMom, we pay the full freight for our policy — not like the days when I worked for the federal government and had a fabulous plan that was actually affordable. If one of the options is to be able to provide that same plan that *ahem* our Representatives and Senators have, why is that a bad thing?

After reading a zillion articles and watching people on the TV machine talk about the various proposals and overhearing conversations at BlogHer ’09, I’ve come to this conclusion — we are a nation that’s more concerned about the money in our own pockets than in giving up some of it to make sure everyone has health care.

Please don’t go calling me names.  That’s one of the concerns that was raised at our BlogHer get-together with Valerie Jarrett, one of the President’s closest advisors — that so many in the country think we’re on the road to socialism if we try provide health care for all Americans without sending them into bankruptcy.  (You can find the live-blog of the session here!)

But there’s something wrong with a country where for-profit insurance companies can deny coverage to a pregnant woman because her pregnancy is considered a pre-existing condition. I mean really — the part of the discussion that we’re not having on health care is that insurance companies exist for one reason — TO. MAKE. MONEY.  To do that, they have to deny coverage to as many people as possible.  And as long as that’s the standard, good people who work hard and try to play by the rules — the people described in a speech by Harry Truman over 60 years ago when he thought it was time to change the health care system — will never get what they need.  And as long as lawmakers take money from the insurance company lobbyists, where is the incentive to change the status quo?

And what about the people like Erin’s dad?  And my dad?  Part of her question from our session with Ms. Jarrett was this:

Erin: I’m afraid for people like my dad who will only take half of his pills because he can’t afford to buy. Can you assure me that those average people who really need health care aren’t going to get left behind?

Jarrett: At least every other day [President Obama] says to us, let’s remember we don’t want to get just something done.  Our goal is to improve the quality of the health care. We have to provide the stability and the security so families don’t wake up every day taking half a pill.

When you talk about compromise, true believers don’t want any compromise.  I think that the president is a pragmatist but he’s not going to compromise fundamentals. He thinks the public plan is the right thing to do. He thinks it will prevent insurance companies from having a monopoly and better serve the American people.

Is it going to be ideal and perfect?  No it’s not.  [But] it is going to be much much better.

I hope she’s right.  Given all the GOP wrangling and Blue Dog Democrat balking over the idea that health care for everyone has to be paid for and is something that all Americans ought to have, I’ll believe it when I see it.  In the meantime, if you think it’s important that our moms and dads don’t take just half a pill or that pregnancy shouldn’t be a pre-existing condition that an insurance company won’t cover, it’s time to contact your lawmakers — even if they’re cranky about staying in the humid weather by the Potomac in the summertime.

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12 Responses to “Health Reform — You Say ToMAYto, I Say ToMAHto”

  1. Carolyn Says:

    Great post! I agree whole heartedly. You raised some great issues. I discussed this on my blog at

    Thanks for keeping this topic going!

  2. James Says:

    Their goal is to wipe out any form of private option for any of us. Barney Frank and even the President himself are on record saying that the “public option” healthcare insurance plan is a stepping stone to a single payer system. One where there are no options and the only plan is the government’s plan.

    No one, not even congressmen know if things will get “much, much, better”… they can’t even appropriate the right amount of money towards a car buy back plan… what makes anyone think they’ll know what to do when they’re managing my life for me.

  3. StopBeck Says:

    How do I really feel about health care reform?

    Universal, Not-for-profit. I’m open to several models (single payer, multi-payer, etc…), so long as its universal and not-for-profit.

  4. annie Says:

    I agree that the idea that health care should be a money-maker for investors needs to be addressed once and for all. Health care is either a privilege or a right.

    But the thing we don’t (won’t) discuss is that basic health care is just that. Basic. It means no antibiotic scripts for viruses and not testing for its own sake. It means that we need to get over our “fear” of Nurse Practitioners and Midwives because they can do the basic stuff just as well as an M.D. but more cost-effectively. Because cost matters when you are insuring everyone even if no one is making profit, people who work in the industry still should be paid according to their skill sets.

    And we should (but won’t again) talk about the fact that we spend a lot of money on treatments of questionable value in terms of effectiveness and life extension.

    Everyone is in hurry for a finished product. It’s like they think the faster the stop-gap can be pushed through the less likely it becomes that we will have to really look at the issues that plague health care and drive the costs up and up.

  5. Susan Reynolds Says:

    shhh Annie, if they hurry up and pass it, there will be less time for people to read the bill. (yes, I did, but folks like StopBeck are on RECORD saying it’s unreasonable for congress to actually read what they vote on)

  6. PunditMom Says:

    It would be great if lawmakers would really address the issue of fixing the system instead of some pretending they want to when they’re really using it for a political football.

  7. StopBeck Says:

    Ms. Reynolds,

    You write: “but folks like StopBeck are on RECORD saying it’s unreasonable for congress to actually read what they vote on”

    I’m not sure what record you are referring to, but I have never suggested nor would I suggest that it is unreasonable or unnecessary for laws to be read before they are passed.

  8. Crunchy Says:

    and do people think that the gove option will be just it? Even here in socialist Canada we do actually have private health ins companies.

    They provide ‘extended benefits’..and manage group plans for businesses.

    So we have the gov’t basic plan that covers us all and then we can have extras too. Extras include prescriptions, eye care, etc.

    And nobody gets turned down for pre existing conditions. No one.

    And is there a definition of ‘basic’ yet for your proposed plan? I think people are afraid of what that may or may not entail.

    I can tell you, in Canada, basic covers more than probably some privately insured folks in the states.

  9. PunditMom Says:

    Crunchy, Thanks for that comment. It is really good for us here in the States to remember there is something good to compare our current system to, and that it’s actually a good thing for a country to make sure everyone has a certain level of care. As for the definition of what will be “basic” here, I shudder — I really do think lawmakers need to spend some time with no insurance and see what so many families have to deal with.

  10. Gentry Says:

    I just discovered your blog today. How refreshing! I live in an extremely conservative pocket of south eastern Ohio and this health care reform has been staunchly and hotly opposed among most of my mom peers here. It was difficult enough to live here (we moved here from the more liberal Seattle area a couple of years ago) during the election, but this as just been over the top for me.

    I can not believe how bent out of shape people are getting and how much they buy into the special interest propaganda of the extreme right wing here. You would think we suggesting communism if you’d hear it spoken of here.

    Anyway, I keep fighting the good fight and trying to remind them how they have no problem with police and fire being public services, why on Earth should health care not be?

  11. schultz Says:

    your write: I’ve come to this conclusion — we are a nation that’s more concerned about the money in our own pockets than in giving up some of it to make sure everyone has health care.

    That pretty much sums it up! Someone else sums it up quite nicely too “Screw the poor and disappoint the rich” Tagline of the American Health Care System

  12. Sid Says:

    Remember, in 1961 Ronald Reagan made a recording claiming that Medicare was socialism.

    This fight goes way back.

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