Senate Vote Moves Health Care Reform to Debate.

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Last night, in a show of Party unity, Democrats, and two Independents, voted last night to move health care reform legislation to the Senate floor for public debate. Republicans, to a person, voted to shut health care reform down, before it could be debated on the Senate floor. Regardless of what one thinks of Sen. Harry Reid personally. or politically, this was a victory for him and his skill as majority leader.

With weeks more of obstruction by Republicans, via myriad amendments and delaying parliamentary procedures, health care reform has yet, many more hurdles and challenges facing it. Sen. Joe Lieberman who voted last night to move the bill forward for debate, has stated he will side with Republicans on a filibuster if the bill contains a 'public option' (government sponsored health insurance for those who can't afford it or, have been refused insurance by the private sector.)

There is speculation still that Republican Olympia Snowe may still support the legislation's passage, off setting Sen. Lieberman's vote, which would allow passage out of the Senate. If, Democrats are successful in this effort, the reform measure goes to a Committee, made up of House and Senate representatives, who will resolve the differences between the House and Senate versions of the legislation. Then the Committee's bill gets sent back to the House and Senate for a final vote on passage, before Pres. Obama weighs in to sign, or veto the legislation. There are miles to go before Democrats may sleep on health care reform.

With so many hurdles, and vote margins so tight that one vote can derail the entire reform package, why would any rational person hold out hope of health care reform becoming a reality? The answer: that hope rests on no one in the House or Senate wanting to be the one person who killed health care reform for America. That one person would be responsible for depriving the uninsured affordable health care, allowing insurance companies to continue to deny coverage for pre-existing conditions and to cancel policies when treatment becomes too expensive.

Republicans have the apparent perception of safety in numbers. In other words, they are acting as if there will be no political blow back if they stand united as a party against the Democratic reform package. But, what if it is the Republican Party in Congress that deprives America of health care reform? Will they not wear that albatross in the mind of every American family who can't get health insurance, or loses it by cancellation, or no longer being employed? Will the GOP not be held responsible by the younger voters for a lifetime as they replace older voters in elections to come, as health care inflation eats an ever greater portion of their wages, assuming they can get coverage at all when they need it in their '30's and 40's?

Which is going to be politically worse: Democrats try and fail or, Republicans not trying at all to pass health care reform? There is little doubt that hosts of political analysts in both parties are trying to divine the answer to that question. I will speculate here and now, that the answer will be bifurcated. The Democrats will bear the heavier political cost in the short run, 2010 and possibly 2012 elections. But, if another couple decades come and go before there is political will to address this issue again, the Republicans will bear the heavier cost for very much longer than Democrats.

The reasoning is simple. Independent voters, according to polls, are more concerned about national debt and deficits than they are about health care reform. If Democrats fail to pass reform and fail to prove over the next two elections the world didn't fall apart because of its passage, independent voters will exact a price at the polls on Democrats.

However, with the passage of 4 to 6 years, the growing negative consequences of failure to pass health care reform will impact those same independent voters' pocket books and family lives. Once the impact of America's broken health care system hits independent voters personally, they will reject Republicans for having killed reform, for as long as reform is wanting, which could be decades.

The future without reform will have independent voters witness escalating Medicare and Medicaid payroll taxes and, or, serious cuts in benefits, in addition to rapidly rising deficits and national debt due to government sponsored health care costs. They will experience private health care insurance premium inflation at a rate of between 15 and 25% per year, putting private health insurance out of reach for a great many more. Then there will be the dramatic rise of employers bankrupting over health care costs or, discontinuing it for their employees in order to remain competitive and profitable, leaving ever growing numbers of independent and other voters without health insurance and the ability to afford it.

For those years and decades to come in the absence of health care reform, what Democratic candidate for office, local, state, or national, will overlook the opportunity to remind voters that what they are witnessing as a consequence of defeated health care reform was brought about by Republican's refusal as a Party to vote for it? Tying the hardships of America without health care reform to Republicans refusal to vote for it, will be the easiest Democratic campaign strategy for elections upon elections to come.

Oh, but, when Republicans get back the majority, they will pass health care reform independents can be proud of, one might argue. But, if it is this hard for Democrats to pass, with majorities in both Houses of Congress and a Democratic President, just how long will it be before Republicans have comparable majorities and why would it be any easier for them than for Democrats today? Will Democrats not take a learning page from Republicans efforts today to defeat a Republican health care reform a decade or two from now?

Can America even survive another decade or two, economically, while waiting for Republicans to get those majorities in Congress and a Republican president too at the same time? Baby boomers are already taking early retirement. And in 14 months, they become eligible for full retirement benefits, the most costly to the nation being Medicare and Medicaid. Without competition, those costs will skyrocket. The health insurance oligopoly will take advantage of trillions of dollars of tax payer paid premiums for seniors to bump their profits ever and ever higher. They won't care that they are bankrupting the government and nation, they will have gotten theirs and if they have to move overseas to a better country, they will.

There is no question that health care reform, regardless of which party sponsors it, is going to make powerful enemies of the opposing party and health insurance industry, failing to appeal to everyone. Which begs the question, if not now, when. If not now, why? The price of failure to pass health care reform now, will be carried
on the shoulders of every American alive, in one way or another, years from now, in the form of higher taxes, higher insurance premiums, and inability to afford or, get insurance when they need it. Health care reform will not be easier, or better, later. It will provide less, and will cost enormously more.

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This page contains a single entry by David R. Remer published on November 22, 2009 3:40 PM.

Investing and Politics was the previous entry in this blog.

Health Care Reform Critic's Refuted is the next entry in this blog.

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