Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The health care plot thickens!

With all the writing I’ve been doing in the months since I made the decision to run for elected office, I have no doubt some readers may look through my body of work so far and wonder where are the epic novels about the health care reform agenda in Washington.

To be perfectly honest, it’s been a process of amassing as much information and perspective as possible on the current push to enact this new incarnation of nationalized medical coverage. I have a stack of newspaper pages and clippings waiting for me to revisit and extract from them any useful and relevant knowledge to be gained from them. I’m not an expert in this area – it ain’t easy!

The biggest hurdle in analyzing the mess that is America’s health care debate is the collection of 1,000-, 2,000-, and 2,500-page legislative behemoths our Democrat-controlled Congress has dropped on us all like someone who finally defecates after suffering from five days of constipation.

The original bill that was under consideration by Democrats in the House of Representatives, HR 3200, was difficult enough to read at more than 1,000 pages. The legal verbiage contained on page after mind-numbing page coupled with the bill’s constant references to the Social Security Act and the Medicare Act (“this paragraph supercedes/replaces paragraphs 3 through 5 of Article 4, Subsection C, blah blah blah blah blah!!”) made it utterly incomprehensible to anyone who doesn’t enjoy 24-hour access to the Library of Congress.

Disseminating the contents of HR 3200 meant carefully reading the legislation that created the Social Security Administration as well as Medicare in order to understand what exactly was being changed there – on top of trying to evaluate the provisions of the bill that were designed to enact new regulations and appropriations which served to fulfill the original spirit of that particular piece of proposed legislation.

I am a reasonably intelligent, college educated individual. For God’s sake I was an English major specializing in the technical writing field. Yet despite my best effort, I could not make heads-or-tails of that thing!

HR 3200 – which eventually was shelved in favor of a bigger and better bill – was half as thick as the bill passed by the House and only 40% as enormous as the Senate version voted-on Christmas Eve morning. Now imagine trying dig through and comprehend both of those bills – more than 4,500 pages of legislative gibberish that would make Chapter 12 of a typical organic chemistry text book found on Ohio State’s campus more fun to read – while Democrats in the House and Senate negotiate a final bill in Conference.

As I have attempted to wrangle the health care issue since it entered the political forefront of America last year, I have seen my share of comedy (and I’m not simply referring to Rep. Alan Grayson’s [D-FL] foolhardy comments on the floor of the House). In one discussion thread on Facebook I was amused by one person’s assertion, “I wonder how many people who oppose the health care bill have actually read it!”

In light of how all three proposed bills have been composed (including HR 3200), I would love to see a show of hands as to how many people who support them out in the general public have actually read them.

Furthermore, complicity with members of Congress writing proposed legislation in this manner is the most overlooked way in which President Barack Obama’s administration has failed to live up to his promise of transparency. They employed this tactic with the Stimulus, the House’s Cap and Trade Tax bill, and now with health care.

To me, the most reprehensible part of the Democratic Party’s efforts over the last year has been their unwavering insistence that health care reform can only be accomplished with their all-or-nothing strategy: “either everyone adopt our massive plan or none of it gets done; meanwhile we reserve the right to place the blame on and vilify all who oppose us as each and every tragic story of any kind makes the news.”

What is truly nauseating about this whole production – since the debates began last summer in the Senate and House of Representatives – is in the time that has been spent trying to ram 2,000-2,500 pages of legislation down our throats, Congress easily could have written several smaller bills that would have dealt with the major components of the health care issue about which Democrats claimed they are most passionate.

We’ve been inundated with commentary about ending the practice of insurance companies denying coverage due to preexisting conditions. There has been true bipartisan support for this. I wholeheartedly endorse this idea. And by my estimation Congress could easily have produced a bill of about 50 pages that would have more than satisfied this order of business.

The discussions in Congress over health care began in June, right around the time school was letting out. For the most part, such a bill ought to have required roughly two weeks to be authored. Another week of dialogue in committee also would have been reasonable to hammer out details on such a bill, assuming expedience was a major concern. After that, several days of open debate on the floors of both the House and Senate about the bill would follow.

By the August recess, an effective law prohibiting preexisting condition denials could have been on the books. We could have had that in America if a little common sense had been applied.

But now we don’t.

And this same process could have been applied to several of the major sub-issues within the whole health care issue debate. By now, we could have seen as many as four key areas of the so-called health care crisis resolved.

But because of all-or-nothing, now we don’t.

Now, because of the Democratic Party’s gross miscalculation on how the general public across America would respond to their tactics, they have lost a Senate seat in a state that had elected one of their own exclusively for almost 40 years. The day after the special election in Massachusetts, Democratic leaders have been tripping all over themselves to get in front of microphones and cameras for an opportunity to discuss how their party needs to alter their policy strategy.

I believe the proper term to sum it all up is, “Oops.”

What Democrats should be discussing publicly – but are not – is their refusal to weigh Republican proposals during all the health care discussions played a large role in angering the American electorate.

Proposals such as tort reform, tax breaks for physicians who work in community clinics, and reforming minimum coverage laws that state governments have enacted which prevent insurers from offering policies that ought to be available in any state where customers (or prospective customers) would want them were all ignored by the majority party.

Additionally, these three examples above would not need to be packaged together in one massive, all-encompassing bill either.

If either Democrats or Republicans are as unfailingly confident in each item of health care reform for which they have argued so vehemently, then both parties ought to have no problem debating in favor of each one individually – presented in its own independent bill.

But instead of this more open and effective approach to resolving some very real problems with health care coverage in America, Democrats preferred to sidestep all questions as to why we needed such mammoth pieces of legislation. Instead of getting into the nuts-and-bolts of the House and Senate bills and defending each component within them, Democrats chose to fall back on the same appeal to emotion arguments with which they started the entire discussion and fell back on accusing opponents of hating the poor and underprivileged. When asked to defend the constitutionality of their legislative efforts, Democrats opted to arrogantly mock anyone who posed such a question to them.

So: Representative Pelosi, Senator Reid, how has that strategy worked-out for you guys so far? Perhaps we should get the answer to that one from Senator Scott Brown.

Now, I have realized where I’ve made my mistake when it comes to blogging about Obama’s health care agenda. Much like this administration and their congressional enablers, I too adopted an all-or-nothing approach to my commentary on the subject. Perhaps I can set an example, in my own small way, for the Establishment Left and tackle the behemoth sensibly: one critical element at a time.

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