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Thursday, January 21, 2010

A Musical Montage of the end of Health Reform

After reading about Scott Brown's Senate victory in Massachusetts, I riffed a Don Mclean American Pie cover on my Facebook status of "I can't remember if I cried/When I read what Mass voters decide(d)/Something punched me deep inside/The day that health reform died". Based on the empathetic comments that I got, my friends sensed my apparent deep inner pain. However, readers of this blog might have been confused by this rather poignant poetic lyrical display since my posts have always found something to criticize about health care reform. I compared Medicare Advantage cuts to the worst thing to happen to seniors since the end of Denny's early bird dinner special and the nicest thing that I said about the Public Option was that it was a marginally better idea than Death Panels.

To this confusion, I respond with Joni Mitchell's song Big Yellow Taxi (otherwise known as They paved over paradise and put up a Parking Lot) "Don't it always seem to go/ That you don't know what you've got/Till it's gone". Now that the possibility of reform is disappearing faster than Gilbert Arenas's basketball career, I now realize the amazing potential of what this country had.

For the first time in a long time, we were grappling with tough questions about our health care system. We became a nation of health policy wonks. Radio programs analyzed the true drivers of health care costs and how requiring everyone to buy insurance would impact costs. More importantly, people with conditions that would prevent them from ever being accepted to an individual health insurance plan sensed an end to their fear of losing access to health care if they ever lost their job. The fact that the bills ensured that everyone could be insured outweighed their weak cost controls and clumsy handling of the Medicare program. As Crosby Stills Nash and Young sang, "If you can't be with the one you love, love the one you're with."

Now as Slate's Timothy Noah pointed out, health reform will likely not happen. The Democrats will not ram their bills through and the Republicans will not offer any solutions or help. The Republicans solution to the uninsured is a reclassification of the definition of uninsured. The one bill that they offered was a torte reform bill that just happened to cover 7-8% of the uninsured. They blew off the health care reform debates. Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley used that time to learn how to use the Twitter. He even taught John McCain how to use the Google. Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell used that time to discover what feelings were. I'm not saying that he has any feelings yet but now he knows what they are.

As I grow moderate with my years, I start to understand the appeal of conservatism, some of its merits, and thus the Republican party. However, I cannot forgive the GOP for its dismissal of health care reform as a relevant issue and their sheer laziness and unwillingness to understand it or put together a bill.

Health Reform has been declared dead before so I'll remind myself of Bruce Springsteen's Reason to Believe with the lyrics: "Struck me kinda funny/ seem kinda funny sir to me/How
at the end of every hard earned day people find some reason to believe."

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