Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Groundhog Day for health care reform?

Incoming Republican Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Speaker of the House John Boehner
Virginia Representative Eric Cantor is suddenly everywhere as a newly-anointed leader of  the Congressional charge to take down "Obamacare." This, just as some of the legislation's very appealing provisions (particularly for seniors) go into effect.

Cantor's bill to repeal healthcare reform is called the “Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act.” It's up for a procedural vote this Friday, and is scheduled to be considered by the Congress next Wednesday.

So, is this a good move for Mr.Cantor politically and, actually more importantly, for Americans?

Salon ran an article yesterday on "The GOP's risky bet to repeal healthcare reform" in which reporter Andrew Leonard asks:
If the real reason for voter anger is the economy, what happens to the Republican agenda if things get better?
Toward the end of the article Mr. Leonard writes:
More health coverage is good for Americans and good for the insurance industry. The latter fact may not offer much solace to progressives pining for a true public option, but it ought to be positively alarming to Republicans. As the new healthcare rules continue to be rolled out, both individuals and industries will have vested interests in maintaining the status quo. Meanwhile, Republicans are offering nothing more than a rejection of the bill, without any solution to the underlying problem -- rising healthcare costs. Who is going to buy that?
Legislation to repeal  "Obamacare" was promised by Michigan Representative Fred Upton on Fox News Sunday. In his capacity as incoming chairman of the  Energy and Commerce committee, one of the House committees that oversees health policy, Mr. Upton crowed, “I don’t think we’re going to be that far off from having the votes to actually override a veto.” If a take down fails, however, Congress, according to Mr. Upton, will go after healthcare reform "piece by piece," by refusing to fund provisions that require funding.

Fred Upton's district includes Kalamazoo, and the Kalamazoo Gazette is running an editorial today that, after also pointing out that Upton is making these comments just as attractive new provisions of the health care bill go into effect, concludes
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has been controversial since it passed. A Virginia judge recently struck down a provision in the act and further challenges are pending.
However, there are many provisions in the bill that are beneficial to consumers. It is also equally clear that steps must be taken to stop runaway health care costs. 
Why not keep the best, most beneficial, parts of the legislation and craft new legislation to address the problems? That would make the most sense.
The path Upton and other congressional leaders are choosing will just continue the dysfunction that has wasted time and taxpayer money for the past several years. 
They should reconsider this action and seek to strategically revise, not repeal, the law.
Yesterday, Michael Falcone and Amy Walter blogged  on ABC News bout "Risk vs. Reward On Health Care Repeal." They make the point that for new, ultra-conservative Tea Party House members, their "no government health care" rhetoric meets reality squarely on the issue of their own health care.
From the DCCC’s (Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee) memo: “House Republican candidates affiliated with the Tea Party ran strongly against ‘government health care.’ … Despite their campaign rhetoric and public opinion, most incoming Republican Freshman will not say whether they will accept government health care.  Their silence can only mean one thing: Republican Freshman will hypocritically take government funded health care even though they ran campaigns against it.”
What I wonder is, have those of us Americans who are quick to offer our opinions on whether or not health care reform should be repealed, taken the time to understand what we're supporting or opposing.

Politics is noise; health care is real. Talk is cheap; medical care is expensive.

So, are you in favor of repeal?

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