Saturday, November 21, 2009

A Single Step: Making Health Care Reform A Reality

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

The above line is often attributed to Confucius; I read it in a fortune cookie once. It is such simple logic, but often we become so wrapped up in the obstacles that impede the journey that we become mired in fear of failure and stand still, stuck in our own misgivings. I've been thinking about how important it is to take that single step as I've been reading reactions to the Senate vote to proceed with debate on the Senate's version of the health care reform bill.

I've had misgivings about both the House and Senate bills; I don't think that either of them goes far enough in making the substantive changes that are needed to provide affordable health care to everyone. However, I think that the passage of the House's bill, and the Senate's vote to move to debate and avoid a Republican fueled filibuster are steps forward on what may prove to be a long journey to health care reform on a grand scale.

My friend Beth (Nutwood Junction) observed in a Facebook comment that if health care reform legislation is defeated, it will be perceived as a failure of the Obama administration. I agree, if this reform of health care fails, then everything that Obama attempts after this is likely to be met with such resistance that it fails. A victory, even a flawed one, will give impetus to future change and there is so much more to be done.

Politics has always been a game of compromises. Draw a line in the sand and all you do is lose. (Former President George W. Bush was fond of drawing lines in the sand; he described himself as the Decider. Of course he didn't actually decide anything, he just drifted into one bad policy after the other, but he perceived his no compromise stance as indicative of a position of power.)

So although neither of the health care reform bills goes as far as is needed for real reform, I believe that the hybrid of the two that is likely to be passed (today I'm an optimist) will move the debate forward, laying a foundation for additional reform in the future.

I don't think that I'm dreaming. I was born in 1955, one year after the U.S. Supreme Court declared in Brown v. the Topeka Board of Education that separate but equal was inherently unequal. Yet, I grew up under segregation. The south didn't rush to take down the "colored not allowed" or "white only" signs. I attended segregated schools until I was in tenth grade (1971). It took a seemingly endless stream of legislation to bring to fruition the promise of the Brown decisions of 1954 & 1955: the Civil Rights Acts of 1957, 1960, 1964, 1968, 1991, and the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

The journey towards a health care system that serves the needs of all of the people, that doesn't deny access to health care to the people, and is not motivated by profit margins, is a good thousand miles, maybe more. However, I do believe that a win now will lead to additional changes until we get it right. I've seen it happen before; I have lived change that once seemed impossible. All we have to do is to take the first step. President Obama has already begun the journey; all that we must do is have a little faith and travel with him.


Linda S. Socha said...

Excellent and thoughtful post and I see the logic and the need.
Good Post Sheria. Are you on facebook? Look me up if you are?

Anonymous said...

Slow and steady change helps to work out the evolving kinks as well as to keep the health care reform doubters from feeling too much of a bad thing is being crammed down their throats.

I've always wanted everyone to have health care, but I was angry about the way I thought some people went about getting it. Now I realize plenty of my anger was misplaced. We'll get the reform, maybe not as much as you want right now, but the future will definitely bring more.

Bucko (a.k.a., Ken) said...

What I wish is that instead of fighting to defeat health care reform, the Republicans would say, we are concerned about xyz, and here are the circuit breakers we need to put in place to make sure things do not escalate out of control. All agree reform is needed, but they cannot come together.

Indigo said...

As horrible as it sounds, I see continued efforts to derail the health care bill for no other reason than being an impetus to the Obama administration. I'm hoping in the end the better good of the people outweighs everything else. It's been a long road to get here. We won't stop here, but we may have a ways to go yet. (Hugs)Indigo

Mark said...

I tend to agree. If we only had the provisions requiring the end of coverage refusal based on pre-existing conditions, as well as those requiring continued coverage in the face of illness, it would be a huge step forward.
I fear for a small and toothless public option though. However the opt-out provisions may have an unintended effect. If people "vote with their feet" and migrate to states that have opted "in," watch Republican representation in the House shrink. It's called blowback, mothafuckas!

Classof65 said...

Both the House and the Senate would have saved themselves a lot of time and money if they had just put everyone on Medicare... the infrastructure is already there, all they would have had to add is the ob/gyn stuff. However, since we've come this far already, I agree that whatever the final form of the healthcare bill we can always tweak it in the future to fix whatever glitches pop up.

Ms. Moon said...

I agree. I was born one year before you and I need to remember to be patient- so many changes have occurred but sometimes it just seems so damn slow.

ADB said...

Happy Thanksgiving, Sheria

Beth said...

Beautifully said, as always, Sheria. And you know I agree.