Archive for August, 2009
[originally posted on Huffington Post]
The Patriarch of the Kennedy Dynasty has passed. Whither now health care reform? Why is this important?
For the last 40 years Edward Kennedy was the voice of the under-represented. His lifetime goal was a more perfect and accessible health care system in the United States. He worked tirelessly to achieve these goals. We are told that he counseled Barack Obama in the early days, “I will support you openly under the condition that you make health care the centerpiece of your administration.” Wise counsel. But this may have been a strategically and untenable position. Like the myth of Sisyphus, since the days of Franklin Roosevelt every president has aspired to a more perfect health care system.
We salute and wave farewell to a Great American. His life’s goal was a more perfect and inclusive Health Care system. We agree … only not as presented.
Remember Monte Hall and Let’s Make a Deal? Behind No. 1, door No. 2 or door No. 3. Behind door No. 1 is the path to political nirvana — health Care reform. Behind door No. 2 is political hell — socialized medicine. And behind door No. 3 is — a mirror. Somewhat facetiously stated. What is the mirror all about? It is — you and I. A collective look at ourselves and how we can decide make a better future. Remember, that was the Woodstock dream. A new nation.
We need to seriously contemplate our devolving state of health and well being.
Congress is in August recess. Hot as a pistol in Washington, DC.
Where are we this week? All the players have staked their positions. The president and the administration have not articulated a definitive plan. They have offered a dreamy vision. As we have noted, both strategically and rhetorically, this vision keeps evolving. Most recently, the focus has shifted to insurance reform. An easier sell. As one commentator said this Sunday, “nobody likes their insurance company.”
Who are the players? The President and the Administration, the Democratic Congress, the Republican Congress, health insurance companies, Big Pharma, labor unions and … the mobilized masses … the pitchfork crazies and the outspoken talk radio infotainers.
Harry and Louise have been resurrected. This time they are promoting health care coverage. Why do you think they have changed their minds? Remember, the large insurance carriers and Big Pharma will not lose.
It is difficult staying focused.
What is the Democratic message? We know the Republican message. What is the goal?
Representative Henry Waxman was featured on the on The daily Show with Jon Stewart last night. He was asked a simple question — what is the plan? What is the goal? A series of litanies followed without a crisp, definitive answer.
Initially it was about covering 40+ million Americans who are currently uninsured. But the nagging question, how this will be funded, shifted the focus. More discussion follows. Cost cutting. Cutting waste, fraud and abuse. All the old litanies.
Watch the bouncing ball. In an earlier post I cautioned my gentle readers to keep your eye on the ball. A difficult task.
What is the goal?
The goal started with a political strategy and calculation based on a lofty ideal. Cover everybody. It is becoming clearer to more people that coverage alone does not guarantee access nor quality. Does universal coverage remain the goal? Or universal access? At what cost?
Now the debate shifts even more subtly to insurance reform. That is probably where the debate should have started. Remember, I cautioned in some previous posts that the insurance giants and Big Pharma will not lose. They are the Titans that no one wanted to challenge.