Things 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.