2010-03-26 / Columnists

East End Matters...

Obama: This Is What Change Looks Like
Commentary By Miriam Rosenberg

No doubt about it. Sunday was a historic night as the US House of Representatives passed the most sweeping changes in health care in decades.

Two hundred and nineteen democrats made the difficult decision to change the system, while the Republican Party remained the party of no.

Congratulations to Congressmen Anthony Weiner and Gregory Meeks, Rockaway’s representatives, for being among those who voted for “change.”

Over the last year the health care debate was hijacked by rumors of death panels and pulling the plug on granny.

In President Obama’s quest for bipartisanship he let the issue be taken away by those whose best interests were to see reform fail.

But, in the last few weeks the president took firm hold of the reins and led. The people who voted for him wanted to see leadership, and they got it.

The health care bill may not be everything people wanted or thought it should be, but then again neither was Social Security or Medicare in the beginning. But the country didn’t collapse, as many predicted, when those bills were passed and over the years changes have been made to both programs.

As for those who agree with the attorneys general of several states who believe it is unconstitutional for the government to require citizens to buy into private insurance companies I say … Hello, anyone out there remember Medicare Advantage companies or Part D for prescription drugs? We already have citizens required to buy into private companies.

For those who say doctors will no longer be making decisions on our health care I say … physicians have been overruled for years because some unknowns sitting in an insurance office denied coverage by not granting permission for a procedure or payment of a medical bill. Wake up folks. Too many people have suffered because of an insurance company’s bottom line.

For those who say, as they did at Congressman Weiner’s town hall meeting this summer, “Take care of them, but leave us alone,” because they didn’t want the cost of paying for someone else’s insurance or were afraid they’d have to drop the plans they had I say … you get to keep what you have if you like it.

As for paying for others, that’s already happening. Those without insurance fill up emergency rooms and then are unable to afford to pay for the care they received.

Just ask representatives from our local hospitals how much they lose each year by doing the humane thing by treating the uninsured. The insured are the ones who pay the difference.

Saying no is nothing new to the GOP. They opposed Medicare, which GOPers called “socialized medicine” (sound familiar). They were also against Social Security.

According to a Providence Journal article by Nicholas D. Kristof, these are just some of the things Republicans said about the then-proposed programs.

Of Social Security Senator Daniel Hastings, a Republican from Delaware, said it would “end the progress of a great country.” John Taber, a New York GOP member of the House of Representatives, said, “Never in the history of the world has any measure [Social Security] been brought here so insidiously designed as to prevent business recovery, to enslave workers.” According to the same article “conservatives bitterly denounced the proposal [Medicare] as socialism, as a plan for bureaucrats to make medical decisions, as a means to ration health care.” Yet, no one would dare try to take those benefits away today.

My one complaint with the legislation is it will take several years for the insurance exchanges to start up.

This could have been avoided if “Medicare for All” had been adopted and we just expanded the program. Other than that, the people win with tax credits for employers; parents who can keep their children on their policies longer; the beginning of the end of the donut hole for Medicare Part D recipients; and the coverage of millions of currently uninsured – including those with pre-existing conditions. After the president signed the bill on Tuesday he said, “Go on our Web site, whitehouse.gov, or go to any credible news outlet’s Web site, and look in terms of what reform will mean for you.”

“These reforms give you more control over your health care,” said Obama.

Now that’s what I call change.

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