Passing the Health Care Bill was euphoria mixed with foreboding, as though we were going on an exciting and long-overdue vacation in the car, but were not convinced that we had enough fuel to get us to our destination, and no guarantees of finding a filling station along the way. Just hold our breath and get started, wishing for the best.
(Hmm, an energy metaphor.....it's probably all connected in similar ways, anyhow....)
Several weeks ago, disheartened as I was with the mounting absurdity, and seeming futility, of the process of providing universal, single-payer health care in America, I wrote here that I would say no more on the subject until something significant occurred.
Last night a Bill was narrowly passed by Congress. Mr. Obama seemed finally convinced that a bipartisan agreement was useless; and so, seeing the approaching dusk (literally and metaphorically), he rolled up his sleeves (literally and metaphorically, again) and did the required hard work of rallying his own team.
Is's now time for us to do the hard work of educating ourselves in what this all means, and when this all takes place. Some benefits, like assistance for the uninsured with pre-existing conditions, will be available within a few months, and will continue (if the "filling station" turns up) until the State Health Exchanges are operational in 4 years.
You can read the Bill...it's only 2,407 pages long. Or, there is a pretty good summary which outlines the Bill from many different angles. This summary, posted on-line by the Democratic Policy Committee, provides a nice primer to understanding, allows us to guard ourselves against the doubletalk as the sell-job continues, and enter intelligently into the conversation, while others simply drink tea and spew mind-blowing hate. Please click on this link....and refer to it often: (For the purists and legalese-lovers, the bill itself is also found here):
It is not universal care, nor a single-payer system. It's not what many of us came in fighting for. It's unfortunate that there is still such opposition to our adopting a system that is working so well in so may other industrialized countries.
Even so, it's hard to see why this particular bill has stirred up so much anger. Then I have to remind myself that it is something bigger than health-care coverage itself, something more insidious, more dangerous, and it will take generations to educate it right out of the fabric of our culture, if that is even possible. From the NPR News Blog, Frank James, March 21:
It's sad but not surprising that some of those protesting Saturday against health-care overhaul legislation literally spit on at least one congressman and shouted racial and homophobic epithets as well. Some of us have long suspected that at least part of the opposition to the overhaul is part of the free-form hostility some Americans feel towards the political ascendancy of people who don't look like them or who have a different sexual orientation. When anti-overhaul protesters start abusing African American lawmakers with the "n" word or gay lawmakers with the six letter "f" word, then it starts to appear that at least some of the opposition is rooted in something other than philosophical differences over individual mandates
But the Bill is just enough, (and timed just right), to provide a good argument for re-electing Democrats to the next Administration, in order that all of this hard work won't be overturned by a zealous and organized Republican machine.
It is a start, maybe even a good start, and perhaps, with the wheels on the ground, the movement forward toward a more positive and exciting direction, one in which the Bill can be improved, may be yet to come. (Do I see a filling station up ahead?)