Monday, December 21, 2009
Thoughts on health care reform fatigue . . .
The picture above was taken this morning after the 1 a.m. strict party-line vote to end debate on the Senate's $871 billion health care reform bill. All signs point to a final vote on the bill, itself, on Christmas Eve.
It has not been a pretty process.
Conservative Democratic Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson had held the vote up until he got what he wanted. Among his wishes, more restrictions on abortion coverage and a provision requiring the federal government to cover Nebraska's costs for expanded Medicaid coverage after 2016. No other state is currently slated to receive such a benefit.
There are quite a few such inglorious provisions in the Senate bill, according to The New York Times.
Truthfully, a large part of me just wants the health care debate to go away. It's the holidays, my daughter arrives this week, we just got a record December snow storm, and, most of all, I'm tired of keeping up with the debate itself. It's ugly, it's undignified, it's been going on forever (in terms of my all-too-American attention span). How much longer do I have to keep plowing through long, complicated, depressing articles--which seem to be mainly accounts of name-calling, legislative back-biting and skulduggery?
Surely, what's been going on in Congress during the health care reform debate would be more appropriate in third-grade lunchrooms than in the great halls of American government. I mean, do these people even recognize the truth anymore. Where is their dignity?
But then I think about my five-times-a-week, fairly grueling workouts at the gym and my nightly yoga sessions. Charlie calls those sessions "flopping around," which leads me to think I don't appear any more dignified during them than our lawmakers have during the health care debate. Yet I've come to accept those undignified activities as what it takes to keep me keeping on the way I want to keep keeping on as age and old sports injuries work their black magic on my body.
Could it be the same with American governance? Is Ben Nelson et al's holdup of the Senate bill just the dark underbelly of a process that, in the end, does a pretty good job?
Oh dear, such complicated, gnarly thoughts to be having the week that winter holidays begin. . .
I do know, however, that as things stand now, I cannot afford to get sick--as in long-term or catastrophically sick.
This means, as a responsible American Citizen, I'm duty-bound to keep up with the unseemly process of legislating health care reform; for, my fellow Americans, as a democracy, our legislative process is only as intelligent and thoughtful, as ethical and responsible, as conscientiously well-informed as we citizens push ourselves to be.
There are some--sigh--good articles today in The New York Times (on last night's Senate vote) and in CNN (comparing the House and Senate bills). And a good comparative interactive graphic in The Washington Post.