Just watched the House pass the Health Care Reform bill. It’s history at work, an achievement on the scale of Social Security and Medicare, a civil rights bill of a sort we haven’t seen since the 1960s. President Obama, Speaker Pelosi, and indeed Majority Leader Reid all deserve to take a bow.
Even without the reconciliation sidecar, this is a massive improvement for millions of Americans – those with health insurance and those who wish they had it. And when the Senate takes up the reconciliation bill, it’ll be an even bigger improvement.
This isn’t just a tribute to the President and the leaders of the two houses of Congress. Obama and Reid and Pelosi enjoy their offices because people worked hard to get Democrats elected, specifically with the intent that they would fix the country’s disastrous healthcare system. And finally, after a century of struggle, we have a system that extends health insurance access to all Americans, and that sets the stage for refinements (like those which have happened for the first 60 years of Social Security’s history) which will ultimately ensure that every American has health insurance, not just theoretical access to it.
Not all see this quite as rosily as I do. My old Kansas friend j.d. thinks that the passage of a bill whose provisions enjoy majority support by a congress elected to enact such a law signifies that “self-governance is over.” An anonymous Texas representative thinks that passing a bill which fails to prevent health insurance from covering a certain lifesaving medical procedure for women makes Bart Stupak (and others) “babykiller[s].” The Discovery Institute and former Bush officials join in the outrage that Democratic priorities lean more heavily toward insuring women than that traditional Republican goal of having women die in alleys. Mitt Romney, who passed a nearly identical bill as Massachusetts’ governor, is now urging repeal of the federal bill (but not its state version), insisting: “The American people will not stand still for this bill becoming law … they will throw those guys out.” I’m guessing that’ll earn him as many votes in 2012 as it did in 2008.
At the end of the day, I’ll toast the victors and turn the mike over to Wonderella: “quit bitching about the health care thing. If you don’t like it, move to Canada.”