For reasons completely unclear to me, the Democrats thought they could take their August recess and leave the USS Healthcare on autopilot. While the Democrats were asleep at the wheel, conservatives pounded the USS Healthcare. Death panels. Socialism. Marxism. Republican Congressmen Phil Gingrey stated that we don't need to regulate private insurance companies, that the marketplace will regulate them for us. Senator Chuck Grassley actually told his constituents "you have every right to fear."
I find it ironic, in the age of information and the Internet, that there can be so much misinformation. There are no death panels. No such thing exists in any of the three bills in the House or in the one bill that's percolating in the Senate. Anyone with an Internet connection can go online and look at these bills. Yes, these bills are long, but they are easily searchable. I cannot explain why the media has allowed this misinformation to ricochet around the airwaves.
As I see it, Republicans are playing some type of child's game where they claim to support healthcare reform. I don't see any real effort to support healthcare reform. Senator Mike Enzi is probably the best example of this. He is supposedly negotiating for a bipartisan reform bill. Just last week he told a group of supporters at a rally that he was sure that healthcare reform was going to fail. Unfortunately, Mike Enzi is a very important senator, on the Finance Committee and the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. Some Republican senators have said they won't even read the final bill. Democrats, liberals and progressives need to read the writing on the wall. If we truly want change, we're going to have to push for it. We are going have to march for it. We are going to have to pull the rest of the country kicking and screaming to get it. This is the only way that we are going to prevent the USS Healthcare from sinking.
I came across an enlightening poll conducted by Research 2000 (8/31- 9/3). They asked whether individuals “favor or oppose a government administered health insurance option that anyone can purchase to compete with private insurance plans.” This is the liberal public option. This is not including some quasi-public option that only triggers when we have 50 or 60 million Americans without health insurance. The question did not ask anything about cost control or if the public option adds to the deficit. It was a straightforward question. 58% of respondents favored the public option. 57% of independents supported the public option. America, by a three-to-two margin, supports the public option. This is even after a month of misinformation and lies. The American people still want the public option and not some watered down version of it.
BTW, we need healthcare reform. This isn't a luxury. People are lining up for free clinics all over the country. They are having to turn away people. Where were the birthers and teabaggers shouting down these Americans who needed healthcare?
Republican Representative John Kline of Minnesota gave the weekly address on Saturday, suggesting that we just start over. Personally, I believe his suggestion was disingenuous but let's take his advice anyway. Let's simplify the whole equation. Medicare for all. Period. Fix the donut hole in Medicare part D. Allow Medicare to truly negotiate drug prices. Nothing fancy. Nothing complex. No triggers. No bailout for the health insurance industry. Simply the freedom to go to any doctor you choose and any hospital you choose. Why can't we do this and make it affordable?
Finally, on a personal note, I've just completed one of the most emotionally and physically draining two weeks of my medical career. I've had to sit down with a number of families and tell them that their loved one was not going to make it. These end-of-life discussions, even under the best of circumstances, are obviously extremely difficult. To have elected officials, even senators, tell their constituents that there are "death panels" in any of these bills is beyond reprehensible. I know that there is a special place in Dante's Inferno just for these liars.