The (tea) party’s over

America needs to move forward on health care reform

The Tea Party has its head in the sand.America has always been defined by progress.  Yet the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has elements in many states trying to turn back time.

Louisiana, with it’s barrel-bottom ranking of the 49th healthiest state to live in, adds to a growing list of states bucking reform as its governor refuses to set up a federally-mandated health insurance exchange, those state-run marketplaces where consumers can shop competing private health plans transparently.

It’s a dopey move for Governor Bobby Jindal, as any state that refuses to set up its own exchange will have a federal exchange thrust upon them. Allowing states to run their own exchanges was one of the compromises in a bundle of compromises known as the Affordable Care Act. Remember “compromise?” It’s how the big things  – until recently  – used to get done in America. You end up with legislation that no one thinks is perfect, but moves everyone forward.

The sour grapes of the “my way or the highway” crowd isn’t confined to one region, as even Ohio is trying to secede from our health care union. Opponents of reform have collected enough signatures there to force a ballot issue on that state’s participation. Even if it passes, it’s not likely to be constitutional, so it seems more than a temper tantrum.

Watching the so-called “tea party” hold the nation hostage in the current debt limit debate makes us long for the days of disgruntled compromise. It’s that same group of head-in-the-sand characters refusing to honor the country’s credit card bill who are trying to undo health reform.

The fact that they choose imagery from revolutionary times to drape themselves in speaks volumes – they don’t really seem to like anything that’s happened since the Federal government was actually formed. Call it faux-patriotism; they don’t love America as it really is with all its character-building blemishes and imperfections, and they focus much of their venom on health reform.

Think back to a time when women were not allowed to vote, and blacks could not drink from the same water fountains as whites. Recall how poverty was the leading cause of death for seniors before Social Security and Medicare.

Keep the memory of all those who fought ardently against women’s suffrage, civil rights and the establishment of a social safety net for seniors as you think of the Americans who continue to die today because they delayed medical care due to a lack of insurance, and of families that lose the roofs over the head over unpaid medical bills.

Health care is a human right in nearly every nation other than ours. There have always be obstructionists to progress, and they all look pretty petty in the light of historical distance.

Health care is a national concern, and it may be up to each state how it implements the federal requirements but not if. The health reform law is a grand experiment to salvage America’s unique private health insurance system and make it workable for the population.

It’s another in a long line of  of American innovations to improve the lives of its citizens, and we need American politicians who can move the ball forward.

 

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