President Barack Obama’s Feb. 25 health care summit was supposed to signal a head toward the finish line concerning passing health care reform.
Instead, the seven-hour long gabfest had Democrats and Republicans doing more squabbling than problem-solving. Kids on a playground show more maturity than this. I couldn’t help but ask myself one question while watching the proceedings: Who are they looking out for? With stacks of the 2,400 page health care bill in front of him, Virginia congressman Eric Cantor repeated the GOP talking point of the day – “Let’s scrap this bill and begin with a clean slate.”
An arrogant and presumptuous request on his and the GOP’s part. Democrats again explained that a lot in the bill is based on Republican suggestions. Yet, the GOP still opposes it. Their complaints with the bill must be politically driven. The Democrats also wanted to make their case for having to use a reconciliation procedure to pass the bill, if need be, given how the Republicans are looking more toward the mid-term elections than the future of the health care system.
Republicans had no motivation to help the Dems with this bill. According to Pollster.com, opposition to the bill is at 51 percent and growing. But the GOP’s own health care policy is only a piecemeal approach. They’ve apparently never heard of individuals with pre-existing conditions. They don’t address that in their rather flippant take on solving a major economic crisis. Their bill only covers 3 million people and provides no regulatory protection for consumers. Let’s face it: the GOP is just not trying hard on this one.
It’s so much easier for them to blame the Democrats for even trying to fix the health care system. Obama offered the best argument to the Republicans’ narrow-mindedness concerning any government intervention on any issue.
“We can allow toy-makers and food importers to offer their goods without regulation too,” he calmly said at the summit. “We would save money doing so. But, people would not be made aware of what harm the products may do to them. Is less regulation worth the consequence of losing American lives?”
It was an ideal question to ask a party that continues to believe in less government versus better government. That moment aside, Obama, however, once again failed to convince nervous Americans for the need to cover an estimated 30 million Americans without coverage. Instead, too much time was spent trying to disprove Republican attacks.
While watching these “negotiations” neither side wanted to chastise the real villain in this fight: the insurance companies that charge the most amount of money while providing the least amount of coverage. And Republicans have painted themselves into a corner by arguing that unemployment, and not health care, is the key issue.
Health care, as well all should know, is tied to employment.
Many of the 18 percent of unemployed people lost their insurance when they lost their jobs. This key point was largely absent at the summit. About 18,000 Americans die from a lack of insurance every year, and 60 percent of bankruptcies annually are attributed to health care costs.
If the summit had begun by considering these numbers rather than poll numbers, something might have been accomplished.