The time has come. We are on the verge of health care reform. So it appears. The lights in the White House are on and someone has called for the champagne glasses as the Senate Finance Committee gets ready to vote on Baucus’ health care bill. For months everyone has waited and now House Representatives and Senators, all on the left, plus the occupants of the White House believe that victory is near. In fact, the Senate Finance Committee could have voted before, but decided to give themselves some time to review the Congressional Budget Office’s pricing of the Bill. It is really commendable that they decided to allow time for review.
Ironically, however, this is the same Committee that voted down an amendment that would have given the American people 72 hours to review any Bill that comes out Congress before the final vote. Wow! The American people do not deserve such courtesy. Didn’t we send those people to Congress to work for us?
So the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has priced the Baucus Bill and has made some conclusions: 1. the Bill will reduce the deficit by more than $80 billion over 10 years – great! 2. nearly 20 million additional Americans will receive health insurance – good! I thought the aim was to cover about 40 million uninsured Americans; 3. illegal immigrants will be inadvertently covered by the Bill – really! I thought President Obama said this would not happen; and 4. some Americans will be stuck with a tax increase – not so good.
Max Baucus has finally produced the semblance of a health care reform bill. The Senate must now merge that bill with one from the Health…Committee before the full Senate debates the bill. In the meantime, the House has three versions of a health bill that must be merged before that body can debate.
It seems quite certain now that something will come from Congress. We do know that after both bodies debate and vote, members from each body will meet to combine the Bills. What will the end product look like? No one knows.
If fact, does Congress or the President really know what they will settle for? One truth is that too many Americans suffer from the lack of health insurance; too many are driven into bankruptcy when an illness strikes; too many are denied coverage due to pre-existing conditions; and much more. Something must be done. Another truth is that health care reform demands a lot of due diligence and the coming together of all involved to get something right.
It was therefore most appalling when President Obama demanded that Congress get a Bill on his desk before the August recess. That now seems like ages ago. Can you believe that really happened? Yes, it did. The question is, what kind of bill would the country be stuck with, if Americans did not demand more and forced Congress and the Obama Administration to back off and make an effort to get this right? What does it say about our President?
We pray for him and wish him well. However, is he willing to do anything to push his agenda?
Today, more Americans than not believe that reform must happen. Also, more Americans than not are opposed to the Bills which are currently in Congress. What will happen next. There is a report from the insurance industry, out today, October 12, 2009, stating that insurance premiums will increase under the Baucus Bill. Is that grandstanding or not? Is the insurance industry angry by what appears to an attempt by the government to lower their profits? Who knows? The fact is, there is an increasing number of sectors in the US saying that a longer look must be taken to ensure that the final health care product gets it right.
Will Congress and the Obama Administration ram an incomplete Bill down our throats? Remember – they voted down the amendment that would allow you and me 72 hours to review the Bill before the final vote. Or, will they listen to the people – we the people who put them there and can take them out – and take time to produce a masterpiece. Time will tell.