Healthcare Reform Impasse

Today, Sept 8th 2009, the Virginian Pilot reports, in a piece written by Bill Bartel that my representatives in Congress are returning to Washington after a 40 day recess with their opinions largely unchanged on how to proceed on health care reform.

My fear is that the large scale opposition to health care reform will result in Congress doing nothing. I am not exactly sure how it would be best to proceed, but I am certain that something needs to be done. I will not criticize too loudly a go slow approach, as long as going slow does not end up turning into foot dragging with nothing being accomplished.

Right now a possible impasse is whether or not reform must include a public option. One side says they will not vote for it if the option is included, while the other just as vehemently claims they will not vote for reform if the option is excluded.

Just about everyone claims that they support trying to reduce health care cost increases. Seems to me that it is not impossible to find common ground as at least both sides claim to have common goals.

One idea for a compromise that has been floated is to include a public option only if after a few years, steps taken to reduce health care costs are unsuccessful. If costs can be reduced without the public option, then why must it be included? On the other hand, if steps to reduce the cost curve without the public option are unsuccessful, then why not give the public option a try?

Now I am not so naive as to think that such a compromise would be acceptable to everyone. Extremely significant opposition will remain. However I think that such a compromise could satisfy enough of our representatives in Congress to gain passage and break the impasse.

Something needs to be done; spiraling health care costs are threatening to bankrupt our nation while failing to provide coverage for too many of our citizens. Yes, perhaps many who lack coverage only have themselves to blame. However many lack coverage through no fault of their own.

Perhaps Congress can not get a perfect bill passed and signed by the President in its first attempt. OK, after we watch the results for a few years, we can always come back and tweak or even overhaul the entire thing. I will find it intolerable if opposition to health care reform is used as an excuse to do nothing. Even if it is only possible to start with modest reforms, then let us start with that. One thing is certain, we know from experience that the way our society funds health care is no longer working.

If modest changes are all that can be accomplished then let us give those a try to see if they are enough. If those who now resist broader changes are so sure these reforms are unnecessary, let us see if they are correct. If they are that confident that they are correct, perhaps they will agree to consider other more sweeping ideas if steps already taken are not enough.


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