Bipartisan health care? It won’t happen

Published 9:38 am Friday, June 19, 2009

Have you ever seen a movie where the plot becomes apparent to you early on and you simply watch the expected unfold? If you have, then you know that is the setting for the current discussion over national health care.

While the President and Democrats are busily encouraging Republican contributions to a bipartisan bill, Republicans are shouting “socialized medicine, long lines, regulated care” and more. While none of these claims are true, that is how Republicans have always played these debates.

When Franklin Roosevelt proposed the creation of Social Security Republicans claimed the campaign for the program was masterminded by Moscow. Republicans ran radio ads claiming each man would be ominously be given a number…and perpetrated a hoax that people would be fingerprinted. On the radio Republicans claimed every man and woman who worked would be required to wear steel dog tags.

When President Johnson proposed Medicare Republicans hired a young actor named Ronald Reagan to do television commercials that claimed the first step towards socialism would be Medicare.

Republicans frankly just do not believe that anything needs to be done to our national health care other than aid for the for-profit sector. Republicans oppose families suing hospitals, doctors, and insurance companies over medical errors in general; they support Medicare prescription prices to be set by pharmaceutical companies without negotiating volume discounts; they favor health savings accounts that only serve more affluent families.

But Republicans oppose the kind of meaningful changes that will benefit most Americans. Changes like universal coverage for all Americans; a public option to ensure affordable availability for insurance; cost savings from hospitals, and insurance regulations that prevent companies from cancelling insurance when a patient gets sick, denying claims automatically, and refusing to insure those with pre-existing conditions.

So Mr. President, let’s skip this predictable part and jump to the conclusion. Republicans are not going to support the kind of health care revisions that make the most sense for America. Hopefully Democrats will not surrender to bipartisanship so we can all just get along.

Instead, Americans expect not the best program everyone can agree on, but the best program for the country.

We need to protect our medical community from frivolous lawsuits, but only with accountability by that community. That means tracking medical errors accurately, and revoking the licenses of practitioners who have high error rates.

We need to know that when Americans lose their jobs they do not lose their insurance and can afford the transition by creating a public insurance fund for people in transition.

We need every American insured and preventative care available to all.

We need standard forms for medical care that simplify the paperwork for practioners and hospitals.

We need good and fair compensation for Medicare and Medicaid so doctors welcome these patients.

We need regulations that require insurers to not cancel someone who becomes sick, who has a pre-condition, or an expensive treatment.

We need HMO’s to have ceilings for compensation so their costs can be controlled and competitive.

We need, Mr. President a health care program that works for everyone, not just the healthy and the affluent.

When Republicans attempted to demonize the idea of Social Security Mr. Roosevelt showed his anger publically and told the American people that the real enemies to helping all Americans were the rich and big business who had vested interest in maintaining the status quo.

Some things never change.

Mr. President, now is not the time to be pragmatic and patient. Now is the time to note the Democratic majority in Congress build the right bill and pass it

Jim Crawford is a contributing columnist for The Tribune and a former educator at Ohio University Southern.