In a weekend surprise, the House voted 220--215 to approve what has been called the biggest expansion of health care coverage since the creation of Medicare, complete with the crucial inclusion of the public option, which some have nicknamed "Medicare part "E" for "everyone." However, with only one Republican Congressman on board -- Rep. Anh "Joseph" Cao of Louisiana -- the partisan nature of this debate will only escalate as the bill travels to the Senate.
And it already has. The Rabid Right were out in force on the Sunday talk show circuit, decrying the dangers of socialized medicine and invoking images of Soviet-style bread-lines that wind around cold, dirty public health offices where over-worked, ill-trained government doctorspoke at your children with rusty needles while rationing out aspirin to cancer patients. Here's some reality about the legislation, from CNN:
The Affordable Health Care for America Act, or H.R. 3962, restricts insurance companies from denying coverage to anyone with a pre-existing condition or charging higher premiums based on gender or medical history. It also provides federal subsidies to those who cannot afford it. And it guarantees coverage for 96 percent of Americans, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.
Oooohhh . . . scary! Well, it is to Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina (where all the crazy NeoCons seem to gather in a little fuzzy clump), who said on Face the Nation, "the House bill is dead on arrival in the Senate," and called it "written by liberals for liberals. The House bill is a non-starter in the Senate," he added. "I just think the construct out of the House and what exists in the Senate is not going to pass, and I hope and pray it doesn't because it would be a disaster for the economy and health care."
Hypocritical party-switcher Joe "Put The Lie In" Lieberman, who promised the public option as part of his very own health care reform billin his 2006 senate campaign, trotted out on Fox "News" Sunday to sneer that "If the public option plan is in there, as a matter of conscience, I will not allow this bill to come to a final vote."
House Republican leader John Boehner of Ohio lamented the vote in a written statement: "I came here to renew the American Dream, so my kids and their kids have the same opportunities I had. I came here to fight big-government monstrosities like this bill that dim the light of freedom and diminish opportunity for future generations." (Good god!)
Snap-snap, Miss Nancy, you've been served . . .
All the Republican Senators who've chimed in since the Saturday vote -- with the ultimate flip-flopper Holy Joe -- have promised to filibuster any bill that includes a public option because, well, you know, we gotta make sure our super-rich supporters in BIG Pharma and BIGGER Health Insurers have no competition whatsoever so they can keep raking in obscene profits on the backs of the suffering American people. What, you got a problem with that?
They don't even hide their pro-corporate agendas anymore, as Lindsay Graham demonstrated yesterday when he actually said the public option would be a "death blow" to private insurance. Wow, why not just attach a "Humana" pin on your lapel to match your "Cigna" tie clip? Eh, Lindsey?
This NeoCon myth is ludicrous beyond defense, but a public option will no more bankrupt private insurance companies than Medicare has, or than public/state colleges have bankrupted private universities. But you cannot argue with the Glenn Beck/Michelle Bachmann bozo brigade who insist that any reform of the current (hideously corrupt) system is tantamount to rebuilding the Berlin wall and marching your momma into a death camp.
Pass the popcorn and click on CSPAN, the Senate debates are going to be more fun than ANY "must see TV" the networks offer up for November sweeps. That is, if you enjoy Republican bathos saturated in hyperbolic swill.