When it comes to health care reform, the consequences of inaction are almost unimaginable.
The United States spends more on health care than other countries, and costs to families are rising three times faster than wages that have stagnated, partly due to health care costs borne by employers. We keep hearing it because it is true — the status quo is unsustainable.
In a televised press conference, when asked why he felt it necessary to rush and to impose a deadline for health care reform, President Obama replied, “I am rushed because I get letters every day from families who are being clobbered by health care costs. In a country like ours, that’s not right. If you don’t set deadlines in this town, nothing gets done.”
When it comes to fears of the rising deficit, the president assured Americans that he will not sign a bill that adds to the deficit and that cost savings included in the bills will actually help to lower the deficit. He also said that he would not sign a bill that would be paid for on the backs on middle class families, or does not slow the growth of health care costs in the long run.
The basic idea, he said, is that in this country, if you want health care, you should be able to get affordable health care. Without a single-payer system, he believes that 97-98 percent of the population would be covered under the bills currently working their way through congress. Also included are protections from the insurance industry practice of canceling the insurance of policy holders who get sick and exclusions for pre-existing conditions.
Like the rest of us, the President is also frustrated with partisan politics and the drive for political gain over the need for crafting the best possible health care reform bills. “It’s not about me. I have great health insurance and so does every member of congress… The American people need some relief.”
Congress has much work to do. It may not get done by the August recess as originally planned, but the President is still looking toward passage of a meaningful health care reform bill this year.
The American people do need relief. Despite the bad economy, the cost of doing nothing will be greater in the long run. We’ve already put this off for far too long. Maybe this will be the year that we begin to heal.