Sunday, July 19, 2009

Let's Not Let History Repeat Itself on Health Care

I went through some of my daughter's early childhood memorabilia yesterday, and ran across copies of the Star Tribune and Pioneer Press from the day she was born in fall of 1993. In the news that day: the deaths of Federico Fellini and River Phoenix, the opening of a new library in Roseville (now closed for renovation and expansion), the Bob Packwood scandal, and changes (or lack thereof) to our health care system.

That's right -- she was born right in the midst of the failed attempt at reform during the early Clinton years.

Flipping through the pages, I came to the editorial page, and was amused by this cartoon by Steven Sack:

Bill Clinton as the Scarecrow from the Wizard of Oz, all in pieces as the flying monkeys, labeled lobbyists, strew his parts all over
Then I read today's Strib and there was Sack again, still talking about the same topic:

Uncle Sam shut in a prescription bottle labeled Status Quo. Caption reads Ask your congressman if Status Quo TM is right for you
If Congress can't get its act together and get something passed in August, so they can reconcile in fall and finish up before the snow flies, Sack may be able to do a little Photoshop work on his 1993 cartoon and get some use out of it this time around as well.

His current cartoon is a neat summary of the argument for getting off the dime and making some kind of change, because the status quo is not working for almost anyone. I know I've already written about Wendell Potter's appearance on Bill Moyers, but I just ran across an additional quote from Potter's testimony before Congress, which I think makes a great point:

The industry and its backers are using fear tactics, as they did in 1994, to tar a transparent, publicly-accountable health care option as a "government-run system." But what we have today, Mr. Chairman, is a Wall Street-run system that has proven itself an untrustworthy partner to its customers, to the doctors and hospitals who deliver care, and to the state and federal governments that attempt to regulate it.
Just as James Morone said we shouldn't use the term "Single Payer," but should instead call it "Medicare For All," we ought to work to relabel the current no-preexisting-conditions-and-no-coverage-except-from-employers travesty we have now as the "Wall Street-run system."

With the popularity of Wall Street at an all-time low, a label like that might have a real effect.

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