This week, Health Care Reform finally became the law of the land. If you had told me when I first became aware of it as a national issue when I was in high school that it would take until my 30s for such an obvious and overdue idea to come to pass, I never would have believed it. More than dismayed at the wait, however, I felt exhilarated, watching the forces of ignorance and hatred solidly beaten back, if only for a moment. It made me revisit some of the words the President spoke before Congress when presenting his bill:
Without adequate health care, no one can make full use of his or her talents and opportunities. It is thus just as important that economic, racial and social barriers not stand in the way of good health care as it is to eliminate those barriers to a good education and a good job.
For the average family, it is clear that without adequate insurance, even normal care can be a financial burden while a catastrophic illness can mean catastrophic debt.
Beyond the question of the prices of health care, our present system of health care insurance suffers from two major flaws :
First, even though more Americans carry health insurance than ever before, Americans who remain uninsured often need it the most and are most unlikely to obtain it. They include many who work in seasonal or transient occupations, high-risk cases, and those who are ineligible for Medicaid despite low incomes.
Second, those Americans who do carry health insurance often lack coverage which is balanced, comprehensive and fully protective.
Comprehensive health insurance is an idea whose time has come in America.
Maybe not the stirring rhetoric that we expect from Obama, but we can’t blame him. The quote is portions of the speech that Richard Nixon gave before Congress in 1974 in support of his Health Support Bill.
It’s a sad day when Republicans have to look all the way back to the Nixon Administration to find a voice of reason and compassion.
So what happened? Where does all this fear mongering come from? When did the Republican Party start to change from a reasonable opposition to a hyperbolic, obstructionist group?
There are many ways in which our government has invaded the precincts of private citizens, the method of earning a living. But at the moment I’d like to talk about another way because this trip is with us and at the moment is more imminent.
One of the traditional methods of imposing statism or socialism on a people has been by way of medicine. It’s very easy to disguise a medical program as a humanitarian project. Most people are a little reluctant to oppose anything that suggests medical care for people who possibly can’t afford it.
Behind it will come other federal programs that will invade every area of freedom as we have known it in this country… until one day as Norman Thomas said, we will awake to find that we have socialism. And if you don’t do this and if I don’t do it, one of these days you and I are going to spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it once was like in America when men were free.
Ronald Reagan. 1961. Campaigning against the adoption of Medicare.
If only we had listened.