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The Healthcare Reform Battle: Who Will Win?


As summer winds down it always feels a little lazy at this time of year. The shadows start to lengthen in the afternoon. Debris begins to fall off trees and litters both street and grass. Evenings cool off a little faster. The screams and squeals heard from neighborhood kids as they play take on a more urgent tone because they know its almost over: school with its rituals and routines is just around the corner.

Congress is away from Washington. They don't like to work in late August any more than the rest of us. Congressman and women like their perks. They like their healthcare. They like their franking privileges. They like to exempt themselves from the laws they pass. They like to do as little as possible so we- the people- won't get made at them.

And yet the great struggle for reform in America continues. Healthcare is a great debate, and an urgent issue. The United Sates has fallen behind the world's best countries with our antiquated healthcare system that leaves millions of our citizens without adequate care. Healthcare in our country is as much a lottery as a system.

There is no end to the two-party system of acrimony. The Democrats now have the votes, the power, and the mandate to achieve sweeping reform. They have a charismatic young leader who asked for a healthcare reform bill. He didn't dictate what should be in it. Yet the Democrats are reluctant to use their strength, they are reluctant to lead when leadership is needed.

The so called "Blue Dog" Democrats, who are more conservative than their liberal colleagues in the party, are holding up healthcare reform. They are ostensibly against what is now called the "public option" which is a proposal for the government to run a portion of the heathcare system. That would mean the large insurance companies-the true power players in all this with their money and PR firms- would have some competition. Competition would give us- you and me- an option, a choice, and a chance to get better coverage for less money than is now possible under the current monopoly the health insurance companies enjoy.

Never, ever, in all history has a monopoly voluntarily given up its power and wealth. Monopolies don't do that. Monopolies only lose power and influence when it is taken from them, usually after a bitter fight. That's what we're in now, a bitter fight.

What is missing in this fight is the voice of the people. All the special interests have voices. Special interests have loud voices that run expensive advertising campaigns to persuade us that what we have is okay. They have loud voices that shout at us from the comfort of cable television studios, and right wing talk-radio bloviators that are well paid extremists deliberately distorting and twisting whatever "facts" are left in this sixty year old debate. Up to now these monopolists and their mouthpieces have won every single healthcare reform debate. Every single one from Harry Truman to Barack Obama.

Will they win again? It depends on us. Everyone in Congress is afraid of the unified voice of the people. But the people aren't talking, the special interests are. And they usually win.

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