As I’m sure many of you suspected, I’ve been following the health care reform packages from day one, and have read large sections of the bills, and generally informed myself on the issue far more than I probably should have. Everything has played out about as expected; the entire Democratic party fighting itself nearly to death to work out a bill, the Republicans suggesting that if you’d just remove this thing that’s good for everyone, I could vote for it, while never having the slightest intention of doing any such thing. And of course, the teabaggers screaming about how this is all a liberal plot to kill everyone by rationing care (because, you know, Democrats are the party known for cutting spending, right?).
But since the introduction of what is presumably the final Senate bill here, the liberal blogosphere has gone off the deep end, led by Jane Hamsher at FireDog Lake. They even have an online petition to stop health care reform now! Ezra Klein does fantastic work as always (particularly on health care reform, and if you want to know anything about it, read him) in pulling apart Hamsher’s arguments against reform. Then this morning, I Stumble across a post on Gawker about how the left wing of the liberals should probably just suck it up and deal, because (obviously) we’re not going to magically get a better bill by killing the current one. The comments disagreed. First, from ampersandparade:
I’m not sure why people are confused about why liberals would dislike this. The liberal wing of the Democratic party, those that are most closely in line with actual Socialism in the sense of modern European socialist parties, wants universal coverage for all citizens, with equal converage for all citizens, no extras, no less-thans, no varying steps up or down the vast pyramid, and with some regulation from the government on the insurance companies so that they do not allow us all to die while they decide on price gauging tactics and who they can and cannot drop. That is what they want. Equality, and quality.
And I would love to have a new $20,000 water-cooled gaming rig and enough money to never work again. But that doesn’t mean I’m going to turn down $50 and a ham sandwich. You can want universal coverage all you want, but you’re not going to get it until the political mood of the country changes (hell, I’d like it too, but we’ve got to be realistic about our goals).
What they instead got was a bill that does not offer universal coverage, that offers subsidies to poor people to purchase healthcare services that might be below a standard that others are receiving because of the free market, and that mandates that those who can afford health care coverage, even if it is coverage that they dislike but is the only one within their price range, to buy that coverage or face a penalty. This is not democracy, and unfortunately for the Republicans (and those leftist Democrats) this is not Socialism either. This is intense regulation of the average citizen, with far less regulation of the vast corporations, and the only benefit is that four years from now we will all be made to buy a product that we might not like or face a fine, and that, oh yes, we might fix it later on.
Yes, it offers subsidies to the poor to get health insurance. I would think that would be a win in almost any scenario, but I guess not. And those services might be below the standards of what wealthy people get? OMG, it’s like every other thing that poor people will ever have to deal with! Oh, except that this health care will be held to certain standards as layed out by the Secretary of Health and Human Services. It just won’t be so fancy and frilly as what the rich buy for themselves. You know what’s worse than that? No subsidies and no health care to worry about standards for. Which is what all of them will get if we kill this reform.
I mean, really? I know we need change. I know we need the preexisting conditions shit to be flushed and for people to have access to care, but Jesus Christ, you all are insane if you think that there is going to be any additional change to come after this bill is passed. THIS IS THE FINAL PRODUCT. It took us a hundred motherfucking years to get here, and it will be a long time before Congress or the president ever again wants to embroil themselves in our petty health issues again. We deserve the very best this country has to offer us, and our health, as citizens, as assets to this nation, should be treated with dignity and respect by this government and these healthcare providers which WE employ.
I haven’t got the faintest idea where ampersandparade gets this idea. I mean, this is the single most hopeless, “we’re all screwed, so fuck it” paragraph I’ve read in a while. Why in the world would this be the final product? Just because it took a long time to do this? Bullshit. Bullshit! Medicare made it through without having to take multiple runs at it, but the Republicans fought it just as hard. And you know what? They passed a massive expansion of Medicare recently! The Republicans did! I mean, Christ, to think that there will be no political will to improve this once it starts affecting tens of millions of Americans is some kind of horrible pessimism (and a lack of memory and understanding) about how America works.
And then there was my favorite comment, from IDunnoIzJustAPerson:
I might be missing something very simple here. Can I visit my boyfriend in the hospital and make life-saving requests on his behalf because of this bill? See. I’m gay. Why should I care about health care when I’ll still be denied my civil rights and refused access to my loved one.
Well, see, maybe you can’t visit him when he’s in the hospital if this bill passes because it doesn’t fix that. But if the bill doesn’t pass, you can’t visit him in the hospital—because he doesn’t have insurance, and thus is waiting in the ER instead for his chronic illness.
I don’t know about these people. Because I think it is clearly delusional to believe that by killing this, we can get a significantly better bill. To push through the Senate, we need 60 votes. We need to clear the Senate to get a law. I really believe that we can’t get much better than this out of the Senate right now. I mean, are we supposed to expect that another 6-9 months of arguing over this will produce a better bill? It won’t. It’ll produce a worse bill. It’s only about 4 months until the 2010 elections start campaigning seriously. Nothing that could be considered even vaguely controversial will happen after that point, and even though it shouldn’t be, health care reform is very controversial.
And that’s assuming we could get them to take it up again a second time, which isn’t very likely. Most likely, we’d have to wait until I’m in my 40’s before we might see something like this again. So unless you think that this bill is actively more harmful to everyone than the status quo is, I recommend you support it. Bjorn needs something like this, as do so many other people who are regularly denied access to insurance for their preexisting conditions, or who simply can’t afford it without a subsidy. For any of them, at the very least, this bill will be a major help.