It's getting down to crunch time for health care reform, time for our representatives to represent and our leaders to lead. I'm terrified they're going to screw it up. Each day the arguments get more arcane, the plans less clear, the goals less certain. The signal to noise ratio of this debate has gotten so bad you can barely understand what's coming out of Washington. And, what's worse, I think our politicians are deafening themselves with their own rhetorical babble.
Cost control, digitized records, employer mandates, the public option, and a hundred other points of contention are being hashed out on the Hill-all of them important, and all of them secondary. There is only one primary point, one reason to go to all this trouble and expense; I hope our politicians don't forget it.
Not almost everybody, everybody. Not everybody except, everybody. Not damned near everybody, everybody.
No more excuses, we've heard them all before, no more delay, we've been waiting for sixty years. Do it now. Cover everybody. I don't care how you do it-every other civilized, democratic nation has figured it out, each in its own way; pick one-but do it.
How do we pay for it? Taxes. What, you think it's free? I don't give a crap what they do as long as it works. Put a few pennies of VAT on all sales, soak the rich, sip the middle class, tax the poor and then rebate it back to them at the end of the year so they at least feel part of it, but cover everybody.
Cut costs, sure. But don't kid yourselves, or us. This is going to cost money. You can cut costs until they make stethoscopes out of Styrofoam; it won't be enough. We can't cover the millions of people the insurance companies won't cover because they might actually get sick without dipping into the cookie jar.
That's okay. That's what society is for. An insurance company can tell an applicant with a pre-existing condition to drop dead-literally-but we can't. That's our brother or sister, that's me or you, that's my fellow American. I want him covered. I'm willing to pay for it and I'm willing to make you pay for it, the same way we make one another pay for our military, and for the same reason. To defend our lives.
Find a way to pay for it and cover everybody. Cover the homeless, the prisoner, the hamburger flipper, the orphan, the junkie, the hustler, cover Mark Foley and cover the intern. Cover everybody who doesn't have private insurance, cover everybody who loses their insurance when their job goes away, cover everybody who can't afford to write a check when they pop a bone or plug an artery.
Let the private insurers stay in business, add the public option, subsidize those who need subsidies, do it all, do whatever it takes, but cover everybody.
Some scream 'socialized medicine,' like they were a couple of curse words. I say shut the hell up and cover everybody. Some say the government can't do anything right, but those same people love the Army, Air Force, Navy and Marines-government programs all-and fund them lavishly. I don't care if government health care isn't perfect. It beats the hell out of nothing, as long as we cover everybody.
I live for the day when I can see a 60 Minutes expose about how much better private health care is than the shoddy government system. Because I'll remember when patients were turned away at the door, when sick people never made it to the doctor because they knew they couldn't pay, when receptionists behind bullet proof glass got your insurance info before they'd let you into the emergency room. I'll remember when 60 Minutes did a piece about people dying in the street because they didn't have insurance.
And I'll think yes, but at least we cover everybody.
It is crunch time for health care reform in America. We've been in the dark ages for far too long.
Congresspeople, Senators, President Obama-Batter up! Do it now. And do it right. Cover everybody.