Health Care and Abortion: Politics as Usual?

I guess we’re experiencing Indian summer here in NE Ohio. That’s kind of a strange descriptor — and one that most likely isn’t politically correct these days. But I’m enjoying the weather — 50 degrees, mild breeze at 5 a.m., following a delightful early November day yesterday.

And as I was on my self-guided running tour of the neighborhood this morning, I kept thinking about the ongoing debate over health care.

That’s kind of sad, really. Sad from the standpoint of that being the top-of-my-little-mind subject for five miles or so. And sad that we can’t seem to resolve big national issues with some degree of civility — and without politics as usual.

I opined yesterday in this space about the need for some straight talk on this important issue — and some common sense. Didn’t see much of either yesterday on the news, in blog postings and during the nightly TV talk show shouting matches.

Yeah, I know. This is complicated — and there are big bucks at stake and big careers and ambitions hanging in the balance. And I’ll admit again that I haven’t read the nearly 2,000 pages in the House bill — and can’t imagine that most anyone has, except the insurance industry and drug firm lobbyists and so on.

During the Hillary Care debacle of 15 years or so ago, I was working at Goodrich and participating as a volunteer on a communications committee opposing health care reform as part of the Business Roundtable. There were many objections at that point, but two stood out: concerns about the cost of extending health care to the uninsured and the fact that the business community really didn’t want to give up control of what was viewed at that time as a tax-free benefit for employees.

The cost issue remains. We’re talking about plans with estimated price tags that range from $800 billion to more than $1 trillion — and the cost savings and increased tax revenues to pay for any or all of this are murky at best, if they exist at all. How much trust do you have in those numbers — or in the claims that the feds can skinny some $400 billion out of Medicare? Nah.

Still, I favor extending some form of affordable health care coverage to everyone who needs it — and if that doesn’t emerge in a final House/Senate bill, what’s the point? Just sayin’.

And I was — dare I say it, hopeful — that a compromise could be crafted somewhere along the way that most likely wouldn’t have been perfect but would have been viewed by most as a major step in the right direction. If you have ever been without medical insurance because you didn’t qualify because of a “pre-existing condition” — or if you have paid out-of-pocket for premiums or expenses for yourself or family members — then you know this isn’t just an intellectual debate among policy wonks Inside the Beltway.

Not so sure now. And here’s why.

We’ve managed to entangle two contentious issues — health care and abortion — into something that is going to require an up or down vote, possibly next year as we head into the mid-term elections.

Prez O says this isn’t about abortion. It’s about health care.

We’ll see.

Looks to me like it is about politics as usual.

And that’s a shame.



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