At the time of the 2000 presidential election, I was a registered independent voter. Shortly after the election I received a call from the Republican National Committee, telling me that George W. Bush was eager to get to work on the issues that concerned all Americans, and what issue would I like him to work on first?
Not missing a beat, I said, “Universal health care for all Americans!”
There was dead silence on the other end of the line for several seconds.
When the caller had a chance to catch his breath, I offered, “Of course, I understand, being he’s a Republican, that’s something the new president will not be working on.”
The caller gave a nervous chuckle, thanked me for my time and hung up quickly. And that’s the last we’ll hear of that, I mused. I was sorely disappointed that President and Mrs. Clinton could not get health care reform done in the early 90’s; it certainly wasn’t for lack of trying.
Fast forward to the election of 2008, when a Democrat in the White House looked like a distinct possibility. Wanting to get in the thick of things this time, I switched to the Democratic Party and first supported Senator Clinton; I knew her stance on health care and felt if elected she could get it done this time. But when it looked as if Senator Obama was more electable, I switched horses and jumped on the Obama bandwagon. The issue of universal health care was more important to me than who won the election, as long it was a Democrat.
So now here we are, with a health care bill passed in the House. The Republicans in the Senate will do what they can to derail it, led by the vehemence of Senator McCain, and send it back to the House chopped to pieces, but if the Democrats stand together, that won’t have to happen. And we’ll have some reform.
I’m glad we’ve come this far; it’s an improvement, and more Americans will receive coverage. To me, the bill does not go far enough; I would have liked to have seen a public option, at least, and, ideally, truly universal health care for all. How could anyone who cares about anyone else in this world besides themselves not want that? How could anyone not care whether a fellow American has to die or at least suffer personal and financial ruin because of the inability to pay for medical attention? How can any Republican who is opposed to health care for all sleep at night?
Here is the best thing I’ve read today, at MSNBC.com. It’s a comment from a physician regarding his impression of the new health care bill:
“I am a doctor. Here is my plight: I will have to pay more in Medicare taxes and take a pay cut at the same time. Having said this, I see patients daily that have no money for the medicine they need to live. They return to the E.R. numerous times for their “health care.” And guess who pays the E.R. bill? You and I. Either we let these people die at the door of the hospital because they cannot pay. Or, we pay for their health care. There is no other option…I have a conscience. I won’t let my fellow American die at the door. I’ll pay for her health care. God forgive me, and the rest of you who complain about it.”
Absolutely. Me too. I’ll pay it. If health care reform means I have to pay more somewhere along the way so that someone else gets the care they deserve, then yes, most certainly, I will pay it. Is this reform? Not as much reform as I would like, but we’re getting there. We’ll take what we can get. For now.