Sunday, November 8, 2009

Health Care Moves

What an amazing night for health care. I watched only a little, and then some highlights this morning. I'm sorry to have missed seeing the vote live.

It is just the one step. But I feel glad. And vindicated. And I think - I think - that the paper tiger of the Repubs is starting to look frayed. When John Boehner (R-Ohio) went on and on about how terrible it was that the bill had a provision that would make people pay a penalty if they don't get insurance (which comes with subsidies for people who can't afford the premiums, and is basically the way we already do auto insurance) - well, he just looked dumb. Especially since we all know that those who aren't insured will still get medical care in cases of emergency, which means we pay for their lack of foresight in failing to get insurance in the first place. Isn't that a Republican principle? No free rides? And he's against that provision? Hmmm. Something smells in the state of Ohio.

They also look silly in light of the fact that both the AARP and the AMA have come out and endorsed the bill now. I happened to see an AMA doctor talking in support of it. He was even-handed, but clearly advocated for the bill's passage. I figured he had to be some random doctor, so supportive he was of the bill. Then they flashed his title - head of the AMA. Wow. Really?

It is one of those great times, when people step up and stand for something. It started with Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.), who hit the gavel to being the proceedings. It was his father who introduced health care legislation for years, and it was his son who took over that legacy for the past 54 years (and who started the proceedings for the Medicare bill back in 1964). Every year, he introduced a health care reform bill. Every year.

And then during the press conference after the vote, Nancy Pelosi made a point of calling up to the podium Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-RI), the late Teddy Kennedy's son - another champion of this cause, up through his death. "My dad was a senator," Patrick Kennedy said. "But tonight his spirit was in the House."

I'm unhappy with the restrictions of funding for abortions. But it seems like a hollow victory for those who want it. At least, I hope it will be, in the end. As in, there's no guarantee it stays in the bill. And even if it does, it doesn't end abortion (though it does affect the poorest of women out there.) We'll have to wait and see what happens. In the meantime, the bill has passed, 220 to 215.

And my brother made a great point last night. Why do they need 1,000 pages? The Medicare bill back in the 1960s apparently was 28 pages. I haven't read the current bill, though am very familiar with its concepts, but the number of pages does seem daunting. I suppose it's the evolution of the times, and the law. When we lawyers write "briefs," they hardly ever are anymore.

Politics. It's the making of sausage, isn't it?

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