Since losing the 60th seat, Congress is unable to override a filibuster. Republicans are echoing the newly elected Scott Brown (R, MA) in demanding that the entire process begin anew, from scratch. Most feel that to do so would be the death blow to healthcare reform, as it is unlikely that Congress would have the time or inertia to pass anything, having wasted so much time and energy already. Instead, it is feared, Congress would move on to other matters, leaving healthcare reform by the wayside. Rather than risk that, President Obama spearheaded a proposal combining aspects of both the House and Senate’s bills. The Obama Administration hasinvited Republicans to take part in the process, to add their thoughts and input to the plans at the upcoming summit.
The president’s proposal would strive to insure over 30 million citizens within the next nine years, providing financial assistance for the costs of mandatory insurance plans for those in need of it. The cost is expected to be approximately $900 billion. The plan would also dispense of pre-existing condition clauses. Abortions remain an unknown aspect within the proposal. From sources thusfar, it seems President Obama remains interested in suggestions from any and all sides, and is willing to compromise in order to see some form of healthcare reform enacted swiftly.
Devil’s advocate’s position is obvious when one does the math. Nine hundred billion dollars divided by thirty million people is $30,000 per person. That’s a lot of health care insurance premiums! One is left to wonder how it can be taken seriously with anywhere near that per-person cost.
What makes the maneuver itself objectionable is the method that would be used. A backdoor tactic, called a budget reconciliation bill, would allow the changes to be enacted without opening the subject to a filibuster on the floor. Many are concerned, especially in an upcoming election year, that the public will see this as an underhanded way of forcing the president’s Health Care Reform bill upon the people against their will. Others may see this as a necessity of politics, an expedient way to ensure that something is done to address the issues, rather than allowing the year’s efforts to be wasted as health care withers on the vine. While some rally behind the fears that a reform bill will be forced upon them, the truth is that Congress will change aspects and details in future sessions.
The initial reaction may be to balk at the budget reconciliation method, to oppose a less than traditional approach to such a radical change. The Reconciliation — if passed — does not bind the U.S. to this one exact means. Rather, it places the responsibility squarely back in the hands of Congress to amend it, to continue to work on it — from both sides of the aisle — until it is honed to functionality. President Obama may still have a tough time selling this with an election year coming, but it seems his gambit may be the only way left to see actual commencement.
If the changing Congress comes to refine this measure, there is potential. If they enact tort reforms, there is hope. Meanwhile, it falls upon us to take steps to protect ourselves. Both physician and patient share this responsibility. Physicians can do so via membership in Medical Justice, which provides their clients with sensible means of defending against frivolous lawsuits and character defamation. Patients can do so by practicing preventative care, observing sound lifestyle, dietary and dental practices, and addressing concerns early on, rather than waiting until their complaints become serious threats to their well-being.