Two op eds relevant to health care appear in major newspapers this morning. In The Boston Globe Derrick Jackson offers Laying down the law on health reform which begins
HEALTH CARE reform is now so bizarre that the Republicans are the ones screaming that the Democrats’ proposals are terrible because they will not insure enough Americans.
And in The Washington Post we can read the words of the widow of Ted Kennedy. Victoria Reggie Kennedy offers us The moment Ted Kennedy would not want to lose she writes
The bill before the Senate, while imperfect, would achieve many of the goals Ted fought for during the 40 years he championed access to quality, affordable health care for all Americans.
Derrick Jackson has been a consistent liberal voice in the press. And no one should doubt Vickie Kennedy's dedication to what was the cause of her late hsuband's life.
That does not mean we cannot question the arguments of either or both. I'm not saying that.
But I do think we owe them the decency to hear/read what they have to offer.
Let me start with Jackson.
I think many who are unhappy with how things have played out in the Senate might, regardless of their opinion of the current shape of the Senate bill - whatever that might be - find themselves in strong agreement with Jackson's third paragraph:
When the Republicans feign care for the uninsured, the Democrats had better get a grip before the entire health care moment is lost. Liberals already have conceded they are not getting anything close to single-payer coverage. It is time for Democratic leaders to tell centrist renegades such as Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska to stop threatening to destroy reform unless it bans coverage for abortions. It is time for them to tell party turncoat and anti-public-option insurance industry hack Joe Lieberman that if you block reform, the door is barred to their side of the aisle.
Methinks the blunt language describing Lieberman will resonate with most here. And Jackson's willingness to draw a line is something with which many have already expressed agreement, even knowing that crybaby Joe might take his marbles and leave the Democratic caucus. Jackson is willing to have the leadership present Lieberman with an ultimatum. And from what I can see, that would resonate strongly with Lieberman's Connecticut constituents. That includes Connecticut rabbis, more than two dozen of whom signed a letter
which says, in part, "As rabbis and Jews, we are commanded to seek the welfare and healing of all those in our midst, especially the weak, especially the vulnerable. We are taught to care for justice - and a system that leaves millions of Americans uninsured and under-insured is far from just."
Let me offer a couple of other snips from Jackson:
Without reform, the CBO, the actuary, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation estimate we will have between 54 million and 66 million uninsured Americans by 2019.
Our unfairness has a human toll. Of the 25 top-ranked countries in the UN’s 2009 Human Development report, the United States has the third-highest income gap and is tied for the second-lowest life expectancy.
and from Jackson's concluding paragraph:
it is important to get 30 million more people insured, even in this highly flawed system. Democrats need to grab the debate back and not completely cave in to Republicans who are making a mockery of health care reform.
In Meeting for Worship with an attention to Business, Quakers will occasionally offer a simple and plain expression of support for a previous speaker: "This Friend speaks my mind." For much of what I read in Derrick Jackson, I offer those words: "He speaks my mind."
Vickie Kennedy goes through a list of things she believes the Senate bill would accomplish. You can read them through the link. She also offers this:
Health care would finally be a right, and not a privilege, for the citizens of this country. While my husband believed in a robust public option as an effective way to lower costs and increase competition, he also believed in not losing sight of the forest for the trees. As long as he wasn't compromising his principles or values, he looked for a way forward.
We need to remember that what comes out of the Senate would not be the final version. Keeping that in mind, read the final paragraph from Mrs. Kennedy:
The bill before Congress will finally deliver on the urgent needs of all Americans. It would make their lives better and do so much good for this country. That, in the end, must be the test of reform. That was always the test for Ted Kennedy. He's not here to urge us not to let this chance slip through our fingers. So I humbly ask his colleagues to finish the work of his life, the work of generations, to allow the vote to go forward and to pass health-care reform now. As Ted always said, when it's finally done, the people will wonder what took so long.
I claim no expertise on health care policy. I have seen first-hand the need for reform - in Wise ande Grundy, VA; in the lives of students in Prince George's County, including Deomante Driver; in the lives of friends and family who are medical professionals.
I may know a little about politics. I am 63. I remember the battles over Medicare; Clinton's attempts in 1993; the attempts to expand S-Chip; Medicare Part D. The Republicans have made clear they want health care to fail, for political purposes, and - as is clear to many of us - to benefit their corporate sponsors.
The American people want health care security. They want to see that the recent election gave THEM some benefit, not just bailouts for banks and auto companies. Health care remains a critical issue for many Americans.
Perhaps what comes out of the Senate will really shock many of us. But suppose just this - the Senate comes out without Stupak or Nelson's equivalent. The rest of the House bill is not bad, and that might give grounds for a decent bill that moves the line, starts a process that can be continued and expanded in the future.
I claim no wisdom on this.
But two people I am willing to respect, Derrick Jackson and Victoria Reggie Kennedy, suggest that we need to get a health care bill now.
I think that is worthy of our serious consideration.