Universal health care is one of the most important changes the Obama Administration could possibly make. The US is the only western country that does not have universal government subsidized health care. But what kind of health care reform is Obama proposing? And why is it "reform" instead of a program of universal health care?
Obama has a history in 12 years of elective office of saying one thing but doing another and never fulfilling anything he promises and healthcare could be the latest example.
In what was yet another of his town hall meetings a question was asked about healthcare and what Obama is going to do about it. He said healthcare reform was one of his top priorities ( its been a Democratic party priority for at least 15 years) but that it will be difficult to do (anyone ever notice how he is always telling us how hard everything is to do?) and that there is a system already in place, a system that, in spite of its flaws he is going to keep.
This is what he said:
"It's not the best system, it's not the system we would create if we were starting from scratch, but its the one we are used to so we are going to keep it".
The one we are used to so we are going to keep it? This is the candidate who campaigned on change? On reforming Washington? On getting rid of the old way of doing things and ushering in something new and better?
This sounds a lot more like is the candidate who told the people of Ohio he would get rid of NAFTA if he were elected but privately told the Canadian government he didn't mean a word of it. Or promised to use public financing if he were the nominee and then reneged. Or promised to vote against the FISA bill if contained retroactive immunity and then voted for it.
Although many of his supporters (or people with their fingers crossed) say give Obama a chance, his 12 year history as an elected official is he is a talker not a doer and never does what he says he is going to do.
So far , for good or ill, everything Obama has done has been Democratic Party initiatives. It's the Democrats behind the scenes setting the agenda, not Obama.Which is actually a good thing since it will be Congressional Democrats that might force Obama to keep his word.
But his statement about keeping a flawed system because its one we are used to doesn't bode well. It smacks of an approach that may be splitting the baby. It shows an unwillingness to take on the biggest obstacles to universal health care and that's the insurance companies and the drug companies.
The single biggest flaw in our system is that health care operates within our capitalist system which is market driven. Health care should not be part of a market driven concept. Republicans have long supported that system and called government subsidized healthcare socialism. But that is what has to change. That is what no other country offering universal health care does. In fact it is insanity to have a health care system that provides services that mean life or death based on the same principles that govern the marketing of Dr. Pepper.When you have a system of health care that can't differentiate between a doctor of orthopedic surgery and Dr. Pepper you have a problem.
Obama, despite his rhetoric to the contrary, has never taken on the big interest groups. Instead he has welcomed their contributions and has gotten cozy with all kinds of lobbyists including the drug and insurance company lobbyists which are some of the most well financed. So getting real health care reform from Obama could be more snake oil than anything that is really good for what ails us.
More than $600 billion is being allocated to reforming health care when what's needed it not just reform but a new system.
But all is not lost. The key to getting universal health care is through Congress not Obama. If enough pressure is put on Congress to do something meaningful, if people reject anything less than the kind of universal health care that has worked for other countries and makes healthcare a right, not a function of market driven principles, then its possible that health care reform will be something truly beneficial and not a bottle of snake oil sold from the back of truck outside a town hall meeting.
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