geoffrey gauchet

On Healthcare Reform and Nonsense

The HCR bill passed last night with a 219-212 vote. All 219 votes came from Democrats and of the 212 dissenters, 34 were Democrats and 178 were Republicans, meaning, not a single Republican voted for the bill.

This makes me wonder: how representative of the American people is this passing? If 255 votes are Democratic and 178 are Republican, it obviously means that the American people voted in more Democrats than Republicans, so, with that, one could argue that the majority of Americans have a Democratic slant.

However, since 13% of Democrats votedagainstthe bill, along with 178 of their Republican counterparts, and since the voting was so very close, shouldn't that mean we should revisit the bill and revise it? I know it passed fair-and-square by the rules of the House, but this bill is important. It may be the most important piece of legislature in our lifetimes. Shouldn't we spend time on it?

Many Representatives that said they were voting for it said things like "No, I don't think this is the best bill we could have, but it's at least something, so I'll be voting for it." Um, as an elected official it isyour jobto fix bills that aren't correct. It isyour jobto propose changes. It isyour jobto vote against things that aren't as great as they could be. This bill will revolutionize health and healthcare in this country, be it for better or for worse. It is not something we should be half-assing. I am not an elected official, nor will I ever be, but I read the 1200+ page bill. I did my best to make sense of the all the legal-ese. It has good parts, and it has bad parts. Why is it that I can do this, but people whose job it is can't?

Everyone can agree that we need to fix our healthcare system; you'd be foolish to deny that. Any bill that passes will affect us for decades (at least) and as a result, we should absolutely spend every waking moment on this bill, fine-tuning and revising until it is 100% the best it can possibly be. And by that, I don't mean it's perfect because no bill will appease 100% of the people, but if we can make it be the perfect compromise and the closest thing to perfect we can, then and only then should it be passed.

I think the Representatives should also be given primer courses on the healthcare industry. There should be more doctors and nurses (and even owners of hospitals and executives from insurance companies) involved in every step of the bill's writing. I say this because of all the rumors and misinformation so many Congressmen spouted to the media. Things like how the bill adds "death panels" (which already exist in the insurance industry and happen every day. The bill just asserts their ability to exist and are not the grim executioners many want you to think they are.), or how it gives carte blanche healthcare to illegals (of which the bill actually says the exact opposite), or how you'll be forced to pay for the government plan no matter what, or how you'll lose your work-subsidized plan.

Well, let's focus on those last two, because those are half true. Yes, you will be paying for the government plan even if you don't use it. It's being paid for by a system referred to as "taxes". Yes, higher taxes are not the way to fix things, I agree. But guess what: stop sending mail through the USPS. Only get packages from FedEx and only send e-mails. You're still paying for the Postal Service even if you don't use it because it's being subsidized by taxes, in addition to the (currently lackluster) profits it makes. This is a fact of the American way of life: taxes pay for everything provided by the government, whether you use it or not. Yeah, it sucks. Move on.

A lot of people want you to think you'll lose your health plan at work. Some say it's because the government will force you to use the government plan (not true) and some say it's because your employer will be paying taxes on the government plan, they won't want to pay "double" by paying into the private plan you have. This is also not true. The reason is this: yes, your employer will be paying some taxes on the government plan by virtue of the way all businesses pay taxes and that money gets thrown into a tax pot. The part many opponents leave out is that employers will get taxcutsif they provide a private health plan, as most medium-to-large businesses do. Yes, if your employer says "Hey, we're sticking with Humana or Blue Cross or whatever" the government will say "Hey, Company X, thanks for providing something for your employees to keep them healthy. Here's some money back to help offset the costs." If you are a business that makes over a certain amount of profit per year (read: giant corporations with millions and/or billions), you will be penalized for not having a plan for your employees. The whole point of the bill is to make sure everyone has healthcare. If you work for a business that can afford it, they have to provide it. If they do, they get tax incentives. If they're too small (like mom-and-pop shops) and can't afford a plan, you can get cheap healthcare from the government. It's not a big deal.

The big problem is, of course, the taxes each of us will pay each year to fund the new plan. Will it be a lot? Will it be a small amount? A portion of my check already goes to Medicare (not to mention State and Federal income taxes…). How much more will I be paying, if any? The exact amount has yet to be disclosed by the Obama Administration and that's a thing that makes me weary. I don't like increases in taxes, mostly because there's so much misuse of funds happening already that, if curtailed, would free up probably millions each year which could help pay for good ideas.

Hopefully this all works out in the end. It's out of our hands as regular ol' citizens at this point. We've elected the weirdos up in Washington already, so now we've got to hope they won't screw this up. Which, if the past is any indication, there's a high probability.

But you know, no other administration has destroyed the fabric of America. Crazy Presidents like Nixon, Johnson, and Bush (pick one), while they screwed some things up, they didn't destroy America. Presidents with questionable private life scandals like Clinton and Kennedy didn't hurt the moral fiber of America either. Sure, lots of Congress-people are "drinking the Obama Kool-Aid" as some GOP-ers like to say (I bet Kool-Aid hates that) and they voted just because a Democrat pushed and backed this bill, and likewise, there were come Republicans that probably voted against it for the same reason, but I fail to agree that Obama or any one political party is going to destroy this country or anything upon which it is founded.

Last I checked, America was founded on the principles that everyone gets a chance at a piece of the pie, (not to mention, the Christian faith, of which most opponents are, has the same core values). So, shouldn't we be trying to do something that helps everyone get healthcare? There are three unalienable rights in the Declaration of Independence and the first one is "life". Without healthcare, not everyone is given that initial right. People are arguing that this bill doesn't help the middle class or the upper class. Well, for one, it does, but is it a big deal that it helps everyone else? When people hear "those who can't get or afford healthcare" they only think of people on welfare or without jobs. There are millions more that have jobs, but still can't get healthcare because they work for a small business that can't afford it. There are some that own small business and can't afford it. There are college students that are no longer covered by their parents, but don't have a job yet, or are waiting tables to pay off student loans and don't get employer-subsidized healthcare. If they had a cheap alternative to private healthcare, they could get cheaper prescriptions or go get a regular check-up. What's wrong with that? The healthier other people are, the healthier you are because people aren't getting sick and then touching public areas or coughing on you. They can afford to get medicine for communicable diseases and help stop the spread of them. That's good for everyone.

Just by creating a program to allow affordable healthcare for those without the means, we have not started socialism. We have not started communism. Is our public school system socialist? Is our postal service socialist? Is our military socialist? These are all programs funded by taxes (in whole or in part) that benefit the masses and are run by the US Government. Yes, many public schools in America aren't good. FedEx and UPS are (often) more efficient than the USPS. And, well, some say the military hemorrhages money. But without a public school system, how many people wouldn't have jobs today? Without the USPS, how can important information get to every citizen with an address in an adequate amount of time? And without the military, how safe would we be?

I just hope that should this become law, it's done efficiently and does not cost more than it should.

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