When we went to the polls last fall, middle America voted for an end to partisan bickering and for our elected representatives to confront issues together in a practical, common sense way.
For better or worse, that’s what we got at the Oval Office: “No Drama Obama.”
In his address to Congress last week on health care reform, we say the President hit the ball straight down the middle — and dare we say, perhaps even a little to the right.
Conservative health reform
The plans Obama outlined were conservative in that they were designed to preserve America’s unique for-profit health care system. We’re the only developed nation that allows insurance companies to make money off health care.
Obama admits it isn’t the perfect way to design a health insurance system. He agrees with many in his party that a better way would be to go the single-payer route, where the government replaces private for-profit companies as the middleman between patient and doctor.
But, the President argues, that would be too disruptive to the nation. Health care accounts for a sixth of our gross national product. Better to tweak the current system — to make it work better for all — he reasons.
Obama would improve our system by stopping the two biggest abuses by the for-profit insurance industry. The industry currently cherrypicks the most healthy individuals, and then often looks for reasons to drop those individuals’ coverage when they need it most: at the time they file a claim. The President’s plan would make both practices illegal.
By making these rules apply to all companies, the President would maintain a level playing field for all competitors. By mandating that all citizens have insurance, he makes it affordable by increasing the size of the pool so that those with medical problems are a smaller part of the whole, thus driving prices down.
Even more for conservatives to like
The President has added even more plan requirements that should have conservative support:
• No coverage for illegal aliens
• No federal dollars to fund abortions
• No Medicare funds diverted elsewhere
• Not one dime added to the deficit, now or ever.
Sadly, it seems his opponents have no interest in seeing any reforms pass, preferring to see this President fail instead of helping him solve a problem facing not only the 50 million Americans without insurance, but also the other 250 million who are already insured. As he points out, these folks are one premium increase away from being insured or one serious illness away from going bankrupt.
TV commentators last week described the President as being “the adult in the room.” When he laid out his centrist vision, he left the door open to those at all points along the political spectrum to advance their ideas about how to improve the vision he laid out.
How do your representatives measure up?
It’s up to all of us in the vast American middle to demand that our representatives in the House and Senate stop any partisan jockeying and work with this President on his conservative, yet sensible, plan to ensure that we all get affordable, quality health insurance.
Everyone knows we have a problem. It’s time to pull together to solve it, and thus far its the President who keeps extending his hand to his opposition. It’s time for those on the other side of the aisle to get in line. There will be plenty of time to campaign later.