Flickr photo by Truthout.org
To the extent that politicians in Washington, D.C. have not attempted reform of this magnitude with a concerted effort for a decade (perhaps, decades depending on how you regard Hillary Clinton's past efforts), the recent votes on health reform in the House two weeks ago and in the Senate this weekend are historic. But, they are no more than contrived milestones in history if you truly assess what the Democrats and their supporters hope this bill will achieve.
The rhetoric of a dominant political culture in America has taken righteous outrage and enthusiastic fervor for real healthcare reform and channeled it into a fight for a weak public option in what Steven Hill recently called America's "House of Lords."
The opportunity to de-commodify health care has been consciously avoided by Democrats and Republicans and solutions to problems created because health care is privatized have been proposed to further entrench and maintain American health care in the very kind of sick care non-system that now leaves over 45 million uninsured.
American politicians, who are primarily Democrats, have warned against overloading the system with demands on healthcare. President Obama and Democrats, on behalf of pharmaceutical companies and private insurers, have managed expectations for healthcare by ensuring the debate on healthcare is tightly limited and controlled.
Debate Begins in Senate
Key Democratic senators behind health reform delivered remarks after the procedural vote on Saturday, November 21st. The remarks showed a keen sense of awareness of what the American people want in terms of reform.
Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) said the bill would make sure "all Americans have access to affordable healthcare" and that the plan being considered "saves lives, saves money, and saves Medicare."
Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) said, "I can't think of a better vote to have right before Thanksgiving. I think the American people when they really learn what's in this bill will be very thankful that we're moving ahead."
But, it was Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT), a man who as Senate Finance Committee chairman has been embroiled in controversy over loans and bank regulation in the past year, who probably had Americans for real healthcare reform doing a double take:
Dodd remarked that the Senate was "going to have a debate that was long overdue." He added:
"There are certain things you ought to have a right to. Certain things, not everything. One thing is certain. You ought to have a right to decent health care, to be able to see a doctor when you need it and to be able to afford it without bankrupting in the process. That's what we are attempting to do with this bill. That's what we are attempting to do for the first time in the history of our country---to deal with a national healthcare plan that will serve all of the people of our nation. Nothing less than that is our objective."
Technically, he is correct. Mandating people purchase private insurance that has no controls on the costs of premiums and saying if you don't buy it you are going to have be fined, is a national healthcare plan. But, it's not a plan any American should be thankful for as they break bread with loved ones on Thanksgiving nor is it a plan that will free Americans from the current exploitation they experience because their insurance is in the hands of health insurance companies.