I spent most of the day yesterday, thinking of frivolous things and posting photos of Alpine skiers, avoiding the sinking sensation in my gut and avoiding media.
Avoiding thinking about the health care bill that apparently won by a narrow margin.
On one hand, I am ecstatic: elated that it passed at all, that the Republicans were defeated despite all their negative hype and fear-mongering.
I am trying to be optimistic that this is just one step...
But, mostly I am disappointed: saddened and dumbstruck that so many Americans are against health care, irked that not even one cowardly Republican voted for the bill, and dismayed that President Obama and the House Democrat leaders had to beg and pander and finagle enough votes even among Democrats.
Watching the local evening news last night, I saw a clip on what the health care bill might mean for me: more difficulty getting in to see the doctor; "a tsunami of new patients" rushing to get treatment; shorter visits with the doctor.
Is that what they call unbiased reporting?
What will the health care bill mean for someone who has never had health insurance? What will it mean for someone who hasn't been able to afford a doctor visit for years? What will it mean for me, with a pre-existing condition that would render me uninsurable if I were ever to fall, even briefly, among the uninsured?
My deepest disappointment, however, lies in the bill itself. I won't lie and say that I have read the details or the fine print. I have a vague understanding of the main ideas. I threw in the towel months ago with the first round of health care debates where I wrote this. I also wrote to my House Representative. I also wrote to President Obama. So, don't get me wrong, I take this issue seriously, personally.
Call me what you will, commie, socialist, it doesn't matter. I firmly believe that nothing short of a single-payer health care system will make any difference and anything short of a single-payer system is a slap in the face. The public option, long-ago taken off the table, would have been at least a miserable compromise, but we don't even have that, as I understand it.
If the bill truly reigns in health insurance companies and reforms the way they do business; if they truly lower costs, if they really do away with pre-existing conditions clauses, a tiny bit of justice will be served.
But please forgive me for being skeptical...
What most outrages me is that the bill requires uninsured citizens to buy health insurance... from health insurance companies. Do you know who is uninsured? These are the people who most likely earn low wages, whose employers do not offer health benefits, people who cannot afford health insurance or, in many cases, even a trip to the doctor's office. If these people do not buy health insurance they will be fined.
How is this a fair bill? They say they will make these policies affordable. Really? Just how affordable is affordable when you make $7.50 an hour? $9.50 an hour? $12.00 an hour? What will these policies look like? How much coverage will they really offer?
Forgive me for being skeptical...
Can you guess who is going to make a killing? The insurance companies. Any plan that keeps them in the game means the American people lose. Mark my words the insurance industry will find a way to rake in billions with all of their new customers. They will find a way of carrying on with business as usual, or even taking it up a notch. They don't spend billions in Washington for nothing.
I understand the political necessity of taking a first step. I understand there was no other way to get a bill passed and that hell or high water a bill had to be passed. But, honestly, I don't know if I can call this a victory.
My prediction: in less than 10 years' time, we will be discussing health care reform again. When that time comes, I hope our country has the guts or the balls or the common human decency, finally, to really make a meaningful difference.
But forgive me for being skeptical...