Saturday, June 20, 2009

Wither to: An Inclusive National Comprehensive Health Reform?

The intense level of debate in the congress with respect to a national comprehensive health reform was made possible by some elements of our democracy that make it imperative that issues are given first, second, third and probably many more looks before we reach a consensus. By the beginning of the century, congress had invented and perfected legislative processes, which projected a bill from the committee level deliberations, to first, second and probably third readings in the house; to fevering debates on house and senate floors; to the merging of preferences between voted agreement from the floor of the house to that of the consensus in senate; before a final accord is reached on a bill that is forwarded to the desk of the President to be signed into the law of the land. This arduous process looks like a long, challenging and sometimes frustrating approach to making a law. It is even more crushing or breathtaking, when the bill is a comprehensive health reform in the age of underperforming economy. The Obama Administration wants an open, inclusive, and transparent process where all ideas are encouraged and all parties work together to find a solution to the health care crisis.

Some of us are no doubt uncomfortable with the long democratic debate process for an issue as important as health care reform, while others are just right with the process. The use of filibuster to kill or delay a bill from passing on either floors of the congress has been known to give stomach ulcer to sponsors during the debates of the bill. Now, you understand why supporters of a bill as comprehensive health care reform, are apprehensive about it passing. No matter the frustration this time around though, we must not resort to sometimes unsavory tactics to get the bill passed. Here lies the beauty of patience. You all have to cultivate the noble quality of having patience when it comes to a debate on a national comprehensive health reform. We must not use infuriating language in our debates or resort to crafty tactics in railroading our opponents, or in challenging unwanted amendments to the bill that will come anyway. As they say, patience is a virtue that only a few disciplined souls can boast of in these days and time.

The Democratic Party and our leader want a comprehensive health reform that: 1) reduce long-term growth of health care costs for businesses and government; 2) protect families from bankruptcy or debt because of health costs; 3) Guarantee choice of doctors and health plans; 4) Invest in prevention and wellness; 5) improve patient safety and quality of care; 6) assure affordable, quality health coverage for all Americans; 7) maintain coverage when Americans change or lose their jobs; and 9) end barriers to coverage for people with pre-existing medical condition. I wish I could find wisdom at this time to explain point by point what President Obama is trying to accomplish with the comprehensive health reform initiative. However, wisdom is very elusive, it comes only slowly and painfully, and it requires a lot of reflection to be able to address the wish list of the democrats on health reform. The following are probably the parameters from where the President’s point men and women are contemplating a comprehensive health reform: a) Just as we have attempted to protect the vulnerable children among us with the expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), it is essential that we assist those adults that are about to fall through the crack because of lack of health insurance and current restrictions on portable health insurance system; b) How to create an inclusive atmosphere for stakeholders, congress, doctors and hospitals, businesses and unions, who are sometimes holding diverge views on what constitute health reform, to work together in putting in place a more responsive health law.

How do we go around the machination of congressmen who will like to add amendments to this bill when it is about to pass? Would we suffer the maneuvering tactics of some super Congressmen who serve the interest of the corporations when it comes to the Comprehensive Health Reform as was found with the case of Big Pharmaceutical Companies on the issue of Medicare prescription drug coverage? How do we enact a comprehensive health care reform without a bloody fight which may hamper cooperation on other bills in the workings? With close to a monopoly of power by the Democratic Party this time around, can we achieve this initiative that once failed under the last Democratic Party Governance? What exactly were the pitfalls of the last effort under President Clinton? How can we minimize the influence of the K Street buddies, yes the lobbying firms, when it comes to this very august bill? How do we prevent money from interfering in a good did: helping more Americans secure portable health care coverage at a humane and bearable cost? How do we play by the rule of democracy rather than the interest of a small group of lobbyist who are often bent on making their dreams come through rather than those of the masses? Can we protect the well being of all Americans through the health care reform and is this a morally right thing to do in this challenging economic climate? Answers to all these questions will help us determine if we will be able to get it done this second time around.
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