Thursday, December 24, 2009

And A Very Merry Christmas And Happy New Year...

To the Health Care Industry, Big Pharma, and a few select states. Yes, in the wee hours of the morning (okay, 7:00 a.m.), the Senate voted to pass the Health Care-less-what-the-people-and-physicians-say Bill. Oh, yes - what a banner day. The Senate rammed through a bill so fraught with problems it would be laughable if it didn't have the potential to affect so many in this country.

But, one person who is very happy about this early morning vote was Barack Obama. Now he can do what he does best - vacation. Yep, he was waiting to make sure this backroom, strong-arm, possibly unConstitutional bill to pass the Senate before going to Hawaii for the holidays. I am sure he is all plumb tuckered from his trip to Norway and Copenhagen in such a short amount of time, and his constant tv appearances. Poor baby, I am sure he is EXHAUSTED.

Obama got what he wanted thus far - oh, no - not any of the things on which he campaigned, mind you. No, he got a Health Care Bill with his name on it to pad his record, assuming that we aren't smart enough to actually care what the hell is IN it. All he cares about is being able to brag that it happened, not what it will do to the country. Next step, the House of Representatives to jive the two bills together just in time for the State of the Union?

Not if this Representative has anything to say about it, though. And this one is actually a Democrat. I am not referring to Stupak, but to Louise Slaughter (D/NY). I know, I was surprised, too, when I saw this article from CNN, A Democrat's View From he House: Senate Bill Isn't Health Reform. Dang, she better be careful of any presents left at her door by Rahm and Harry. Ahem. I have to say, it is mighty courageous of her to speak out like this, and isn't that a sad commentary, that it would require courage? We've seen what happens if a Democrat doesn't toe the line ("We're keeping score, brother," - Obama). No doubt. That's the Chicago-way.

But Slaughter isn't from Chicago. She's from New York:
CNN Editor's note: Rep. Louise M. Slaughter, a Democrat, represents the 28th Congressional District of New York. Slaughter is the first woman to chair the House Rules Committee and the only microbiologist in Congress.

The Senate health care bill is not worthy of the historic vote that the House took a month ago.

Even though the House version is far from perfect, it at least represents a step toward our goal of giving 36 million Americans decent health coverage.

But under the Senate plan, millions of Americans will be forced into private insurance company plans, which will be subsidized by taxpayers. That alternative will do almost nothing to reform health care but will be a windfall for insurance companies. Is it any surprise that stock prices for some of those insurers are up recently?

I do not want to subsidize the private insurance market; the whole point of creating a government option is to bring prices down. Insisting on a government mandate to have insurance without a better alternative to the status quo is not true reform.

Amen, sister. Right there with ya. Oh, and that whole taxation thing? That will happen immediately even though this program isn't set to start until 2014. I gotta tell you, considering how much we already pay (including how much MORE we have to pay since we can't be married, about $2,500 a year), I don't really care to be shelling out more money to pay for OTHER people's private health insurance. BUt that's just me. Oh, and maybe Slaughter:
By eliminating the public option, the government program that could spark competition within the health insurance industry, the Senate has ended up with a bill that isn't worthy of its support.

The public option is the part of our reform effort that will lower costs, improve the delivery of health care services and force insurance companies to offer rates and services that are reasonable.

Although the art of legislating involves compromise, I believe the Senate went off the rails when it agreed with the Obama Administration to water down the reform bill and no longer include the public option.

But that's not the only thing wrong with the Senate's version of the health care bill.

Under that plan, insurance companies can punish older people, charging them much higher rates than the House bill would allow.

In the House, we fought hard to repeal McCarran-Ferguson, the antitrust exemption that insurance companies have enjoyed for years. We did that because we believed firmly that those Fortune 500 corporations should not enjoy special treatment.

Yet the Senate bill does not include that provision -- despite assurances from some members that they will seek to add it. By ending that protection, we will be able to go after insurance companies with federal penalties for misleading advertising or dishonest business practices.

The House bill would cover 96 percent of legal residents, while the Senate covers 94 percent. Compared with the House bill, the Senate's bill makes it much easier for employers to avoid the responsibility of providing insurance for their workers.

And of course, the Senate bill did not remove the onerous choice language intended to appeal to anti-abortion forces.

Now don't get me wrong; the current House and Senate bills are a significant improvement over the status quo. Given the hard path to reform and the political realities of next year, there is a sizable group within Congress that wants to simply cut any deal that works and call it a success. Many previous efforts have failed, and the path to reform is littered with unsuccessful efforts championed by Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Harry Truman and Bill Clinton.

Supporters of the weak Senate bill say "just pass it -- any bill is better than no bill."

I strongly disagree -- a conference report is unlikely to sufficiently bridge the gap between these two very different bills.

It's time that we draw the line on this weak bill and ask the Senate to go back to the drawing board. The American people deserve at least that.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Louise Slaughter.

I disagree, too. Do it right the first time. DO it so that physicians all across the country don't give up their practices. Do it so that the middle class won't be carrying the burden. Do it so that Medicare isn't cut. Do it so that it truly benefits the people of this country, not just to get it done to get it done. It's too important to be shoved through like this.

How about taking back this present to the Health Care industry and Big Pharma, and go back to the Drawing Board in the New Year? That would work for me, and the majority of my fellow Americans.

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