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All the "Best Ideas" on Health Care Reform, Not.

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It boggles the mind that President Obama said he wanted all the "best ideas" put on the table (the basis for Thursday's televised bipartisan health care "summit") while having no proposal (and no intention) for a single payer Medicare type reform plan, or any kind of a "public option" (the compromise plan in the House bill brought forth when "single payer" was excised from the beginning of the health care debate) in his just released health care "reform" plan.

Yet this apparently is what Obama portrays as the "best ideas" for health care reform. Republicans naturally are apoplectic in their denunciation of the Obama plan, suggesting there is no change from the proposals already passed in the House and the Senate. To some degree they are correct, but they have been obstructionists and staunch opponents of any health care reform proposals from the beginning of the health care debate, so any objections they now offer ring hollow with hypocrisy. Republicans simply have nothing to offer now and never did have anything to offer to health care reform.

Again, what is truly flabbergasting is that Obama openly stated he wanted all the "best ideas" put on the table as the basis for this "summit". Say what you want; this is sleight of hand hypocrisy when there is no mention still of a single payer Medicare type proposal anywhere to be found in the present discussion.

The one proposal ("single payer") that would cover everyone, eliminate pre-existing conditions as a basis for denying health care coverage, provide real competition to the private health care insurers, and the one plan that would reduce health care costs to manageable and sustainable levels over time is NEVER MENTIONED.

The truly sad part in this political charade, in the end, is that the only way to enact anything that purports to be health care "reform" can only pass by the process of "reconciliation." This is a little-used legislative maneuver whereby only a simple majority in the Senate is required to vote up or down on a bill. It thus eliminates the need to overcome Senate filibuster rules requiring 60 votes to end a filibuster. Now with the Democrats (and the two Independents that caucus with them) having just 59 vote Senate majority, a filibuster by Republicans is all but assured, thus making "reconciliation" the only path the Democratic majority will have to enact anything on health care. In fact, "reconciliation" is virtually the only way any health care reform plan could ever be enacted.

Sen. Max Baucus (D-Montana), the Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, was openly opposed from the beginning to any "single payer" plan, never inviting any representatives of this idea to his committee hearings. In fact, he had protesting doctors and nurses in audience attending those meetings physically removed when they verbally objected to their not being seated on the committee panels. Those hearings that did have representatives from the private health care industry seated then prominently near the Chairman.

Then there were the Senate "blue dog" Democrats, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, and Kent Conrad of North Dakota, who along with Independent Joe Lieberman of Connecticut would never vote on any plan that would challenge the existing dominance of the private health care industry. All were beholden to private health care interests whose largesse funded their campaign chests. It was a no brainer from the outset; they would never go against the hand that feeds them.

So now, when "reconciliation" (which has not formally been acknowledged by Obama or the Democratic Congressional leadership) is (and ever was) the only vehicle available to Democrats to get health care "reform" enacted, "single payer" is still left out in the wilderness. The one plan that could truly be called transformational health care "reform" and benefit all the people in this country is not even included.

Its absence is a hard pill to swallow. It didn't have to be this way.



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