Thursday, December 24, 2009

Health care reform: halfway home

WELL, THE SENATE finally passed the damn thing. It wasn't easy, nor perfect, given the opposition from a handful of Democrats and all of those politically correct core-value Republicans ambling around the halls of congress on their knuckles, snorting that the end of the world was near.

This was the disloyal opposition at its worst, from the racket of "death panels" to Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn's unspeakable appeal to Americans to pray that someone would not show up for a vote to block a Republican filibuster. It didn't take a second or two to realize that he was tallking about Sen. Robert Byrd, the ancient and infirm Democrat, to either lapse into a deep coma or pass 0n to wherever Democrats go when they die. (As the talks now move to the House, the Coburn Prayer will still be on the table if and when an accord is reached to pass the bill.) I wonder when a U.S. senator last prayerfully called for a colleague's absence. Fortunately his avenging angels decided to sit this one out.

The nearly year-long debate was a made-for-TV (and cable) extravaganza in which fiction far overwhelmed fact. It was often played out by role-players who saw little reason to speak in behalf of rational differences. If you are looking for an explanation of how so much of this got out of hand, remember there is no better way to secure your 15 minutes of fame than to to sit in front of a TV camera arguing that health care reform doesn't necessarily turn on its axis and could easily knock the whole planet out of whack.

I couldn't resist thinking of Dick Cheney, recently applauded by the ultra right-wing Human Events, as the conservative of the year. The guy has been on the prowl for most of this decade with an implantable cardioverter defibrillator(ICD) that regulates the heartbeat - a device that the doctors figured might extend his life after his four heart attacks and a quadruple bypass. The total cost of his medical bill was reported to be nearly $3 million. But even pampered penny pinching vice presidents have a right to stay alive. One of his aides said his Blue Cross/Blue shield policy would likely cover all of it. Cool.

On the other hand, folks without health insurance are not vice presidents or senators.
As they say, rank has it privilege.


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