The President of the United States wants to get his health care bill passed. He is leaving no stone unturned: parliamentary maneuvering, challenging the Congress to force a vote and so on. He had even sent me a letter a long time ago from his external and media relations office, when I first wrote to the White House about health care policy that this was a priority for him because his mother had died of ovarian cancer.
Barack Obama had come a long way since his mother’s situation that triggered his zeal to reform the nation’s health care. Now he can do something about it. Just as Eisenhower, tired of his cross-country trek in an army convoy before World War II, had changed the nation’s roadways as soon as he became president. It took a stroke of a pen on a sensible piece of legislation to produce the nation’s interstate highway system. Eisenhower could also have passed a compromise bill especially given the debts from World War II. But he did not.
So, wanting to do something about it to save the political legacy of LBJ or the ideological propensities of Hillary Clinton’s failed health care effort is not the proper tribute to his mother. Still, this is what the president is doing. His health care bill, hypothetically, cannot help his mother had she been in the same situation at the same age today. The politician son will have declared victory, but will not have provided a solution to the problem to many women like his mother. And they should not have to wait for their sons to grow up to become president to fix the problem once and for all. It is time to fix it well and fix it now.
The women’s history month is an opportune time for the suffragettes to begin marching again because their right to vote is not being put to good use on matters of women’s health: ovarian cancer, breast cancer, abortion, labor, neonatal care, fertility, contraception, and the list goes on. But the bill does not address any of the rising health care costs associated with these health conditions. Its only purpose is to set in motion now a political process to gradually expand government health care over the next 20 years because perhaps the President thinks that had her mother been able to receive government health care, she would not have been in the predicament she was in.
He is correct. The country indeed needs a public option. But not a public insurance option or a private health care option funded by government insurance as is the case with Medicare and Medicaid. The public option the country needs is a health safety net, similar to food stamps at best, at worst an all government, publicly-provisioned health care for all whose incomes are below a certain percentage of the poverty line (including full-time students instead of living off of parents’ insurance until 26 years old), civil servants and all elected officials because, of course, elected representatives must have the same quality of care as their constituents. The President gets his health checks at the Bethesda Naval Medical Center outside Washington. So, there is a viable basis in government to provide the health safety net and there is no reason why it should not be expanded into a health safety net to provide equal access to all those covered by it. It will cost far less than what the government currently spends on a combined basis on Health and Human Services (HHS), Pentagon, Veterans care and the costs to the states for Medicaid.
As to the private markets, the issue is health care supply. The health care industry in the United States very shrewdly regulates and protects domestic supply of health care, given its unchanging demand for all types: preventive, primary and specialized, to keep the costs and profitability high. To bend the cost curve, the supply must rise and so the market base must expand. And there is no shortage of people either in the United States or around the world, from conception to death, to expand the market base. International trade in health care, first within the G7 countries, can expand supply of both personnel and pharmaceuticals literally overnight. A healthy and competitive market global market in health care can add to the gross domestic product (GDP) of the United States just as it could become a liability the size of the current U.S GDP if the status quo is allowed to continue.
Protectionism in health care must go on the supply side. It is akin to protectionism in the financial markets with the full force of the government behind it when free trade is sold to the rest of the country only to lose jobs and wages. More health care supply, already an emerging phenomenon taking advantage of information technology, is in stark contrast to the current health care bill which wants to protect the status quo.
The women of the country, instead of tangoing with the courts and politicians over abortion, might as well get the morning after pill and restrict abortion sensibly to the time immediately after the realization of pregnancy. All other procedures must be made by the judgment of the physicians with a bias to saving both the mother and the developing fetus. And instead of being manipulated by a liberal culture of explicit fashion that encourages them to take their clothes off more than keep them on both off and on camera, they are better off marching on Constitution Avenue with pink ribbons on for health care reform and breast cancer cure. They will be far better off if they defend their health than defending liberalism, because sexual liberalism causes health risks that put fertility at risk, whatever may be its morality for the various interest groups.
A million woman march led by the First Lady and all the female members of Congress to shut down Constitution Avenue until the country passes a sensible health care bill is a better way to celebrate the women’s history month by starting all over again.
So, my vote for the reform legislation is both up and down, much like the President’s in the Illinois state legislature, until the country gets it right because the President’s principles are correct and comprehensive, but his bill is not.