Where do the America people stand on health care? Do they feel it is ok for two children, who both have a serious illness, where one is from a wealthy family and the other from a low earning working class family, to receive markedly different health care? Is that American?
How do Americans feel about someone being dropped by their insurance company due to some “pre-existing condition”, like diabetes, or high blood pressure, or breast cancer? Does this have the ring of American fairness?
How would Americans feel if they knew that their health care, if they have it, is the costliest in the world and is mediocre when compared to most other European Countries, Canada, and Japan? Does this offend Americans sense of pride?
Do you think it is ok for health care costs to increase each year at 2-3 times the rate of inflation and for 2010 and 2011 social security benefits will not increase at all? Do you wonder who is getting a good deal here?
If this panel of Americans listened to the Health Care Summit on Thurday, they would have heard Republican Congress members speak against any of these reforms. They might have said this was unfortunate, but they preferred to start over.
Republicans did speak about costs but offered no comprehensive plan. Republicans declined to express any sensitivity towards these fairness issues. Instead, they said it was ok to keep these inequities, maybe forever, but surely not until health care costs were reduced. Why should some Americans have coverage and others not?
Why could the Republicans not have offered their support in exchange for Democratic support for concrete steps to decrease health care costs and to introduce other measures measures designed cap the yearly run away health cost increases?
One is left with a purely political answer that “no way, no how” will Republicans help President Obama even, if necessary, at the expense of innocent children and less well off citizens. The other possibility is even uglier, that Republicans simply believe this should be a country where the wealthy get health care and the less wealthy do not.
Democrats do not escape this quandary without some serious questioning about why they did not include more serious measures to significantly reduce health care costs. If the current bill does pass and its provisions to provide much broader coverage and to stop the predatory practices of health care insurers, Democrats will be duty bound to seriously engage in legislation that would bring health care costs in line with global standards and cap these costs (as a percent of GDP) at a level the country can afford.