The debate rages on and there is much musing over what will happen next. America sits poised on the edge of our seats waiting for the other shoe to fall. It causes us to muse over what if Senator Ted Kennedy were in the thick of the debate?
Kennedy’s passing surely has an impact on the health care debate in America. While the central disagreements may have stayed the same, the loss of Kennedy is surely a blow to civilized discourse regarding health care reform. As noted by both Republicans and Democrats in the wake of Kennedy’s death, he was a respected legislator who was “willing to work with others to get things done, for the greater good.” [The Situationist 9.12.2009]
Leading Republican senators hinted that no Democrat seemed ready to assume Kennedy‘s traditional role both in crafting a political compromise and in selling it to the Democratic base.[The Washington Post 8.29.2009]
Can Senator Harry Reid or the unlikely 10 (10 moderate Senators and 10 progressive Senators) “craft a political compromise and sell it” to the Democratic base. Is that what Senator Ted Kennedy would have done with health care were he alive right now? In his stance on health care reform, there was a sense of urgency that perhaps some of us may have mistaken for a sense of mortality on his behalf. Was Senator Kennedy looking at the closing chapter of his life and trying to get health care done before his passing? Or, was he leaving us a legacy that is the fierce urgency of now; trying to tell us that we cannot afford to rely upon the status quo, as the situation has gone too far too long unchallenged. He is not here to tell us what was in his heart of his mind. Clearly this is our mission right now. This is his legacy passed on to us to achieve.
Do we fudge the public option for something “less than perfect” that actually makes the public option a mockery and say to ourselves, “take what we can get and regroup to fight another day?” We are faced with 45,000 excess deaths expected to occur this year, next year and every year thereafter that we do not have meaningful and substantive health care reform. Even though the number of job losses continues to go down each month, the numbers of jobless workers without health insurance increases, driving up the potential for excess deaths to occur because of lack of health insurance.
The abusive premium increases that are taking place across the board in the industry have a two prong approach: first, push up premiums and thin out the at risk (sick) pool of customers, thereby reducing the insurance industry work force and risk simultaneously. Fewer customers mean fewer jobs to be filled. Second, the abusive rise in premium prices will pad the insurance coffers, allowing them to “decrease” the cost of premiums once health care kicks in without any adverse impact on the industry’s profit margin.
My message to the President: Stand firm and unwavering on a robust public option and we, the people, will stand firm at the polling booth come the next voting session for lawmakers who stand with the insurance industry and not the people.