Speaking sternly and intensely yesterday, President Obama said the “time for talk is over.” He was firm in pressing Congress to pass a bill intended to move healthcare reform forward. The President’s Health Secretary, Kathleen Sebelius, was equally firm in suggesting that health care insurance providers reduce their profits to make coverage more affordable for the nation. She went so far as to say that failing to do so will result in skyrocketing premiums; perhaps referring to the way that some California premiums were raised because people who were at less risk declined to renew policies that had become unaffordable.
President Obama addressed a crowd at a high school gathering in St. Charles, MO, putting aside fancy rhetoric to state “Folks in Washington, they like to talk. So Washington is doing right now what Washington does. They’re speculating breathlessly day or night. Every columnist. Every pundit. Every talking head. Is this proposal going to help the Republicans or is this proposal going to help the Democrats?” Even when he’s not trying to be eloquent, the President seems to get at the heart of the matter. It’s more about picking sides now than about passing health care reform legislation. Speaking as though he were outside of the political realm, he added “I don’t know about the politics, but I know that it is the right thing to do and that is why I am fighting so hard to get it done.”
Both legislators and the health care industry seem keenly aware that just lowering premiums isn’t going to resolve the issue (cutting wastes and other reforms will be necessary) and they claim to be working on that. The one thing that still isn’t being addressed is Tort Reform. No one wants to talk about the big pink elephant in the living room. Unless steps are taken to gain a comprehensive, sweeping reformation, it’s unlikely that these changes will ever result in a meaningful difference in the way that healing is practiced. Gnawing away at bits and pieces here and there just isn’t going to “get it done.”
Though the quote seems to express concern, any time a Republican warns a Democrat of a pitfall, one has to wonder about the motive. Eric Cantor, #2 Republican in the House of Representatives, said “If they ram this bill through the House like this, they lose their majority; They do this at their own peril.” Are the Republicans really worried about the Democrats losing their majority, or afraid that passing Health Care Reform legislation may save them those seats, while passing nothing at all would certainly cost the Democrats their advantage? As we’ve said before, while this may not be the right legislation, passing SOMEthing would require that Congress revisit the issue, rather than just casting it aside, leaving Health Care Reform forgotten.
This coming November, the voters will speak up about how they feel about Congress’ performance. Unfortunately, we may never know if those votes are cast because the people are in favor of health care reform legislation, protesting of how long it took to get around to it, if they’re voting against the bailouts, or some other issue. Most of the comments from readers about Congress passing health care reform legislation seem to show that, contrary to the Republican line, the people want SOME form of healthcare reform passed, and they want Congress to get that over with and move on to dealing with jobs and the economy. With the 60th seat gone (and unlikely to return) it seems that the days of full Democratic control are done with for this decade. It’s equally unlikely that the Republicans will have the majority in hand after the November elections. In short, the country is back to needing to give and take, to work together to achieve common-good goals. Let’s hope they finally wise up and include Tort Reform in the solution.