Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid: We need leadership on healthcare.

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Several years ago, when the Democrats took over the House, they elected Nancy Pelosi to be Speaker. I thought that was an interesting choice. (Interesting, in this context, is not really a compliment.) When Harry Reid was chosen to lead the Democrats in the Senate, I thought it was odd. Now, as we look back over the last three years, what is the tough legislation that Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi have guided through Congress? Nothing. We have not been able to end the war in Iraq. As a matter of fact, we’re still there. We have not held hearings on torture, or former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman, or the outing of Valerie Plame, or domestic spying, or even our election system, for that matter. All of these issues take political will and leadership. Now, we need leadership on healthcare and these guys are, again, AWOL.

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There should be no doubt in anybody’s mind that healthcare is difficult. In order to do healthcare right, several special interests must be directly confronted. Neither Harry Reid nor Nancy Pelosi have stuck their necks out to say that we are giving way too much money to health insurance companies. No one is saying that health insurance companies do not add any value to our healthcare dollar. This is what needs to be said. Instead of leadership on this issue, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi are nearly invisible.

We, as Americans, should not take half-measures. If we are going to truly reform healthcare, then let’s reform healthcare. By moving to a single-payer system, Americans save over $700 billion. This money then can be used to cover the 46 million Americans who are currently not covered by any insurance plan. This would provide basic medical insurance for all Americans. This does not require any special tax on the wealthy. It does not require any additional funds from the middle class. Even while not spending an extra dime, we can cover all Americans. Why isn’t Harry Reid or Nancy Pelosi saying this on the Sunday talk shows every week?

When is somebody going to stand up and say that immigration reform is part of healthcare reform? Hello, Harry and Nancy, I’m talking to you!! Out of the 46 million Americans who don’t have health insurance, somewhere around 12 to 15 million are economic refugees (illegal immigrants); therefore, these two topics are linked. When is a politician going to stand up and tell us this? That would be leadership. Informing the American people and leading Congress through potential pitfalls is what we’re paying the majority leader and the Speaker of the House to do and they ain’t doin’ it.

Finally, if we are able to negotiate some basic tort reform, physicians will begin to order less tests. Americans instantly save billions of dollars. The quality of healthcare doesn’t change. As a matter fact, you can argue, that the quality of health care may improve.

Today we learned that the Blue Dogs and Republicans have worked out some sort of agreement that there will be no vote on healthcare reform before the August recess. Fine. We (progressives) need to organize. We need to push for a single-payer system. We need to write and fax Congress. We don’t need to spend any more of our hard-earned money on garbage. This latest bill that came out of the Senate is 1000 pages of garbage. We need to tell our representatives that they need to start with a clean piece of paper. Then, they need to write down the goals of healthcare reform — portable, efficient and cost-effective. These should be the goals. Co-ops do not meet these goals. Some sort of public-private hybrid is not efficient or cost-effective. No American should have to pay anymore money than we’re paying now for healthcare. $2.2 trillion is enough. 16% for gross domestic product is enough. A single-payer system is the only way to meet the goals of a portable, efficient and cost-effective healthcare system.

It is time for Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid to listen to what Americans want – single-payer.  They need to lead Congress and make this happen.

0 Responses

  1. Thank you, Dr. Thompson. This is so obviously true bu, unfortunately, necessary–pushing these 2 to give us what we so badly need, as a country.

    Mo Rage

  2. We need to get an organized street protest in the districts of the reluctant democrats for that matter the President should call for the supportesrs of single payor public option to get out in the streets and let them know how you feel. Loud and angry about not being represented. Polls show what we want ,they should deliver. Pelosi and Reid should remove chairs from dems that do not support the democratic public position.

  3. I agree with some of the things you’ve written here but I’m not sure about this part where you say:

    Out of the 46 million Americans who don’t have health insurance, somewhere around 12 to 15 million are economic refugees (illegal immigrants);…

    I have to ask; Are they “Americans” or are they “illegal immigrants.” They can’t be both.

  4. MK –

    I don’t know. I guess that I would say that they are Americans but not American citizens if you buy that.

    Thanks for the comment.

  5. Thanks for your response, Dr. Thompson.

    We often hear the estimates of 12 to 15 million illegal immigrants living and working in the USA.

    And we are aware of the statistic that 46 million Americans don’t have health insurance.

    But you’re the only person I’ve seen who makes the claim that the 12 million illegal immigrants are part of the 46 million Americans don’t have health insurance.

    I don’t think that’s correct. Of course you’re entitled to hold and publish your opinion, but since one of your prominent points in the article is that “immigration reform is part of healthcare reform” shouldn’t you find out, for sure, before forwarding that particular argument?

    Because healthcare reform is a tough enough nut to crack without implying that we should include illegal immigrants into healthcare reform, which nobody is proposing.

    Thanks for your consideration.

  6. Greetings again Dr. Thompson,

    I found out a bit more information since my previous post and I thought I’d share it with you.

    There’s two issue at play.

    First, the often used phrase “46 million Americans don’t have health insurance” is sort of a misnomer. According to 2006 US Census data, 46 million *people* in America don’t have health insurance.

    The second thing I found is that among the 46 million people in America who don’t have health insurance, about 9.7 million are non-citizens. That includes all US immigrants, both legal and otherwise.

    Just thought I’d share that.

    Beyond that, I don’t think anybody in Congress is proposing to consider including illegal immigrants into healthcare reform legislation.

    Thanks again.

  7. MK –

    I got your answer in this post. I’m glad that you have found the same numbers that I found. I would add that the Census numbers that you quote are from 2007 so they are probably a little on the low side. I that that we (you and I) agree that immigration reform needs to be tackled with healthcare reform but no one is touching that one.

  8. Congratulations. You are the first I have seen who has publicly decried the fact that immigration was not handled FIRST.  But Barack knew we’d get bogged down in it.  He was far more interested in getting health care passed and then doble back to plug in illegals.

    You said: When is somebody going to stand up and say that immigration reform is part of healthcare reform?

  9. Glad to see this post address the number of noncitizens that Democrats routinely include in their figures. The <a href=>2008 Census numbers</a> tell us that there are about 22 million noncitizens in the US, and estimates that over 9 million are included in the ‘uninsured’ numbers.

    Obama lied when he said illegals would not be included in Democratic healthcare ‘reforms’. He was publicly called out on it, and sheepishly moved to address the issue after the fact. Obama has long been an advocate of giving drivers licenses to illegals, which would make it far easier for them to access any and all public programs, and he knows it.

    Pelosi and Reid have not been able to rally the troops and for that we can be thankful.

    As for the idea that a single payer system is the only solution, I think we need to be a bit more open minded.

    Paperwork eats up as much as 20% of the health care dolllar. The industry should quickly move to standardize all forms and information systems to save billions. And it doesn’t take an act of Congress to do so. In fact it does not have to cost one taxpayer dime.

    Why are massive government programs the only solution that liberals can conceptualize?

    Increasing the number of insureds is important to everybody. You wouldn’t find health insurance companies opposing that.

    Why don’t we allow groups of individuals to band together to purchase group health? Allow them to do so without being an employment based group. Cost to taxpayers=zero.

    They could negotiate favorable rates like large corporations and unions do, while preserving free choice and a free marketplace.

    The influx of insureds would spur competition, lowering insurance rates for everyone.

    Stating over and over again that ‘Americans want single payer’ doesnt make it so.

    <a href=>Surveys</a> show that over 80% of Americans like their current coverage.

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Errington C. Thompson, MD

Dr. Thompson is a surgeon, scholar, full-time sports fan and part-time political activist. He is active in a number of community projects and initiatives. Through medicine, he strives to improve the physical health of all he treats.


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