Refocus the Effort

For me, the health care debate began with an innocent email in my inbox. It bore the signature red, blue and white logo of the Obama administration and it listed all the benefits of the “Obama Plan”. I scanned the ambitious email, which promised affordable insurance for those who don’t already have it, Medicare for seniors and even care for people with pre-existing conditions. After that email, they had my support. So many of the people I love have been told that their insurance doesn’t cover the treatment they need. So many of them have been denied insurance altogether, or drowned in debt from health care bills. I even have an uncle who flew to Asia just for a root canal. He claimed that the total cost was still modest compared to what he would have paid the dentist right down the street. In my eyes, health care reform is long overdue. I knew there would be some opposition, but I expected it to be half-hearted and without support. After all, how could anyone say no to a bill that provides all Americans with affordable health care? But I had underestimated not only the flaws in the 1,990 pages of the bill and the willfulness of the opposition. but also the president’s salesmanship. As the summer wore on, the arguments on both sides escalated and repeated themselves. Every time I tuned into any news channel, all I saw was a very angry lady comparing Obama to Hitler. August was marked with bitter town hall meetings, harsh slander and scary slogans. Death panels! Government takeover! Bureaucrats between you and your doctor! In the face of the hyperbolic opposition, the pro-reform Democrats’ rebuttal was weak. They did take the mike at these town hall meetings and try to make people realize that President Obama is neither a tyrant, a fascist, nor a communist. But when it came to explaining the benefits of the public option, even they had very little success. What was even less impressive was the Democrat’s quickness to compromise some of the most valuable points and label it as an effort for bipartisanship. Though some key players such as Rep. George Miller had assured us that any eleventh hour amendments were out of the question, that is exactly what we saw with the Stupak Amendment. This amendment says that women have the option to buy a plan that would cover abortion, but that no government money appropriated to the bill would be used to pay for it. Shouldn’t insurance cover all unplanned medical procedures? Why is the bill restricting funding for a completely legal and constitutionally protected procedure? Perhaps, as I am observing from the comfort of my couch and lacking any sort of experience in politics, it’s not my place to judge the efforts of our official representatives. But, as an American citizen, this issue seems simple enough to me. About 46 million Americans are currently uninsured and cannot afford health care. No exceptions, amendments or appeasement should be allowed on this bill. However, there’s still hope if the President decides to put his foot down. When I read that email, I was impressed to see that the Obama administration addressed this issue. In fact, the president faced it head on and invested in it so strongly that the very success of his presidency seems to depend on the outcome of the reform. I sincerely hope that when the bill lands on Mr. Obama’s desk, he will deliver the promises he made in that email and show the decisiveness and leadership that landed him in the Oval Office in the first place. Tia Baheri is a new Lower from Plano, TX.