HEALTH CARE / A reform at risk of being DOA.
The health care reform, an election promise by President Obama, debated over the past year and premised on a supermajority of Democrats while opposed by entrenched Republicans, was upset by the Massachusetts election to replace the late Sen. Edward Kennedy, a long-time supporter of such reform. In a humiliating defeat for the ruling party, Republican Scott Brown was elected over Martha Coakley, and the Democrats lost the vital 60th Senate seat which allows the three-fifths requirement for overcoming a filibuster.
Since Scott Brown’s arrival in the Senate, President Obama convened a bipartisan seven-hour summit with long speeches purportedly to come to an agreement on health care incorporating the best from both parties. As an article in The New Republic, “Sink or Swim”, points out, the difference is irreconcilable, as Republicans favor personal responsibility in health care, without accounting for those with bad luck, and Democrats have constructed a bloated program which steals from the rich to insure the poor. Ross Douthat of the New York Times characterized the summit as “Six Hours of Hot Air!” and concluded: “The Democrats have a health care plan that may turn out very, very badly, and the Republicans, for all their protestations, don’t really have a plan at all.”
Obama, now in a position to claim “at least I tried”, gave his weekly radio and internet address flanked by medical professionals in lab coats. In response to Republican calls for starting over, he said: “I don't see how another year of negotiations would help. Moreover, the insurance companies aren't starting over.” In a promise he plans to repeat as he makes his last push for the legislation, he stated: “If we act now, all of this will happen this year. Millions of lives will improve. Some will be saved. Many families and small business owners will have health insurance for the very first time in their lives. Doctors and patients will have more control over their health care decisions, and insurance company bureaucrats will have less. This future is within our grasp."
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