Reforming America's broken health care system is not an insurmountable task. Unfortunately, a significant barrier stands in the way of enacting appropriate legislation; a clear conflict of interest that faces our elected representatives in Congress. In addressing this issue, this Congress must decide whether it will stand up for the interests of the American people or bend to the influences of the lobbyists and special interest groups.
More than 70% of Americans want some type of public option that will provide competition for the privatized medical insurance industry to bring rapidly escalating costs under control. President Obama has made health care reform his #1 objective and he strongly supports a public option. The Republicans, except for a handful, will fight against such an outcome with all their might to protect corporate interests as they always do. Business as usual for the health care industry has now become unsustainable. Therefore, we must have a revolutionary breakthrough that will provide health care for all Americans.
At the center of the ongoing debate and discussion is the Senate Finance Committee, led by the Chairman, Democratic Senator Max Baucus, of Montana with Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa as the ranking GOP committee member both are major recipients of health care industry campaign contributions. Baucus wasted no time in taking a single payer option off the table and refusing to spend any time even discussing it. He also refuses to support any kind of public option. This is quite troubling.
Right now it appears that appropriate legislation could be enacted if only the Congressional Democrats would show their loyalty to their president, and the American people who elected them. But, as is often the case with Democrats, they are not standing together on this critical issue. A small group of about ten conservatives Democrats remain less than supportive.
Ed Tubbs, in an article dated June 27, 2009, entitled "My letter to Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Exec", identifies these Democrats who are either against a public option or seem to be leaning in that direction: Max Baucus (D-MT), Evan Bayh (D-IN), Tom Carper (D-DE), Kent Conrad (D-ND), Byron Dorgan (D-ND), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), Ben Nelson (D-NE), Mark Pryor (D-AR), and Arlen Specter (D-PA). It's noteworthy that almost all of them, with the exception of Specter and Bayh, are from Southern or Western states that have relatively small populations.
This is one of the problems with our democracy and the Senate. The large majority of people that have problems relating to health care coverage live in America's most populous states. The question is; will a handful of states with small populations and their senators determine the fate of one of America's most critical issues? If they do then that will be a travesty of immense proportions.
Senator Kent Conrad (D-ND) made an astounding statement recently. Conrad, who is proposing a compromise proposal to establish member-owned "co-ops" instead of a government-sponsored public option, stated that it doesn't matter which option is right or wrong but, rather, which one has the votes. Since this debate process is in its early stages, it most certainly does matter which option is right and which is wrong. Does he not understand that His job and the job of his fellow congressional representatives is to determine through honest and thoughtful discussion which one is right for the interests of the American people, not which can merely get the votes?
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