Thursday, March 25, 2010

Zen and the Art of Health Care Reform

March 25th, 2010

My Dear America:

During the first part of last week last week my interest in Health Care was simply to survive the cruel Stomach virus that hit me worse than anything I had endured in decades.  Once I started to feel better toward the end of the week, though, I found myself paying attention to the Health Care Debate once again.  

By Friday of last week it began to dawn on me that something very serious was going on with Health Care.  My first clue was the speech that I watched on Television Friday Morning when President Barack Obama addressed the students of George Mason University.  The President reminded the audience and himself that the last time he had spoken at George Mason was weeks after he had launched his bid for the nomination of his party to become President.  He spoke wistfully about the old days when few in the country gave his Presidential bid much of a chance.  But the students at George Mason had greeted him on that visit as though he was already the President and Barack Obama appreciated it.  Last Friday he was the President as the George Mason Students greeted him like he was stilll Candidate Obama. 

Clearly President Obama appreciated his enthusiastic welcome at Gerorge Mason University.  He was at George Mason for two reasons.  To charge up his appreciative collegiate audience and to get his own batteries charged up for this last historic battle for Health Care Reform that was coming around the following weekend in the House of Representatives.  

Barack Obama did not disappoint his college audience and they, in turn, did not disappoint him.  Barack had learned over the long haul that had been his first year in office to take his message and trim it down to the basics.  The Health Care Bill that had been passed by the United States Senate was too weak by liberal Democratic standards and too strong by Republican standards but what had become clear by last Friday was that the Gunfight at the OK Corral on Health Care was at hand.  Barack Obama had finally come to realize that his wish for Compromise with Republicans was a pipe dream.  The Republicans were counting on Obama to fail to deliver on Health Care Reform.  

But something happened at some point in the Health Care Debate that alerted the President to what probably should have been obvious to him long ago. 

Only the Democrats were interested in changing the way Health Care in America was delivered. 

Only the Democrats were going to help him in his struggle to get it done and as last weekend approached Barack conferred with Democratic leaders and they quietly began the final process of trying to get the votes to pass Health Care Reform.

Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Steny Hoyer, John Larson, Jim Clyburn and many other Democratic Zen Masters took their places and performed their jobs with skill and precision.  Some members of Congress like Dennis Kucinich replaced their original "No" votes with "Yes" votes.  Others did the opposite.

When the final tally came up on Sunday clearly the most important votes were those of Bart Stupak and company, without whom the measure surely might have failed.  With great conscience Mr. Stupak and his Anti Abotion Coalition agreed to vote with the President on the bill if the President issued a Presidential Order promising that no money in the bill would be used for abortions. 

Somehow, miraculously Barack Obama and his Democratic Zen Masters pulled it off and we are now looking at providing Health Care for most Americans.  There are many good ideas in the bill.  Eliminating Health insurance companies from providing coverage on the basis of Pre Existing conditions will mean that my daughter, who lost her health care last year on the day she she graduated from College and has not been able to get coverage of any reasonable kind, should now be able to qualify soon for Health Insurance.  Also Health Insurance companies will not be able to drop Americans from coverage at the very time they need coverage.

The bill is a not a very good bill in that there is no Public Option or  real cost controls to help keep the Health Care industry honest.    In my opinion it should be a Single Payer Plan that would either provide competion for the Health Care Industry or put companies that deserved to be out of business where they belong.  Certainly the idea of fining those without Health Insurance, which will happen in a few years, is an idea that rubs me the wrong way.

But in this climate with the power and the money that the Health Care Industry possesses we must be satisfied that we have at least stepped down the road to improving our Health Care System.  We have a long way to go but it is at least a step in the right direction.

Sincerely Yours

Jerry Gallagher

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