By Rob Mangel
The battle for reform of the American health care system roared on this past week in a new wave of political interaction. Currently the system in place does not provide for a large majority of the American population. Citizens continue to be denied health insurance based on pre-existing conditions and many cannot pay the premiums required by the present system.
This has been President Obama’s big promise since his election in November 2008, but the process has come to a screeching halt due to wicked partisanship and political infighting. President Obama called a summit to take place on this past Thursday, Feb. 25, with several of the most important political figures from both sides of the aisle, in an effort to make headway on the topic of health care reform. Entering this meeting, Obama promised positive steps toward a reformation of American health care. In a rather unorthodox move, this summit aired on a number of news channels for its entirety. Being able to watch our leaders at work provided a unique opportunity for the American public.
There were times during the summit where I was very impressed with the conversation between the two sides. Both Democrats and Republicans seemed to recognize the importance of the issue, however, many individuals on both sides failed to recognize the dire consequences of inaction. To put it bluntly, those present at the summit were talkers talking, rather than doers doing. But while the Democrats spoke positively about healthcare reform, the Republicans again seemed to want to stop it in its tracks. Many of the Republican constituents brought an oppositional attitude to the summit, presenting yet another roadblock for this important piece of legislature. Republicans used this summit to present information from their districts in opposition to health care reform, however many of these constituents have a very narrow-minded view of this issue. While many of those they represent do not need or want a reformation of the health care system, those are in no way the majority of Americans. What many of the more elite Americans fail to recognize is that the majority of urban, working class Americans do not have the same kind of resources that these elite families and individuals have.
Until this realization is made, the health care debate will continue to chase its tail. Democrats will propose bills and Republicans will vote against them. In the face of this notion of necessary health care, the Republicans proposed an idea of incremental help to those who need health care coverage.
“An incremental approach is like a swimmer who’s 50 feet offshore drowning and you throw him a 10-foot rope. And you say, well, it didn’t reach him but we’ll get it back and we’ll throw him a 20-foot rope next time. Then we’ll throw him a 30-foot and a 40 — by that time, the swimmer has drowned,” Tom Harkin, a Democratic Senator from Iowa said. Harkin is one of the leading Democrats on health care reform.
It is my most sincere hope that Republicans and Democrats are able to put aside their squabbling and realize this is not a political issue, it is a humanitarian issue.