Here's a guest post by my friend Abe regarding Obama's speech last night. You can check out his blog here.
Obama did a good job in his speech making clear why we--as individuals & as a country--must succeed on health reform now. But since most people already understood that urgent need... even more importantly, his speech succeeded in eliciting exactly what this reform means for 3 categories of people--which together include all Americans:
- people already w/ health insurance (majority),
- Americans without health insurance (~30 million folks), and
- (the following category overlaps onto category #1) those who currently pay the rising bills for the uninsured when they get sick.
[jump ahead 5:00 min to skip the monotonous clapping]
As I was watched the speech together with a friend--and noticed that in one after another of Obama's statements, precisely 1/2 the chamber stood up and clapped, while the other 1/2 sat stoically across the aisle--she said, "OH that's why I hate politics!"
Agreed. It's as if these Representatives and Senators whom we all elected to act as leaders during this crucial time can't even think with their own brains once in awhile, instead they stick to "party lines" as if those lines were the only hardwired neuronal pathways they owned in their cortex.
Here is 1 suggestion I have to every single person in the health care profession, including myself as a student. The simple fact of our profession not only gives us & those we will serve a bigger stake, personally, in the outcome of health reform; but it also truly bestows upon us an added credence when we have something to say (I've seen the special attention paid by politicians to a doctor or nurse at a phone banking or rally for health care; also, see the YouTube below of the ER doc in the audience at a recent town hall). And what we can say, what we all can absolutely agree upon--but this still is in danger, not because of merit but merely because of political games--is that WE STAND BY THE NEED TO PASS HEALTH REFORM NOW, THIS YEAR. (Click here if you are willing to make this simple statement to your representatives, it will convince hesitant politicians that the will is there, and it will only take you 1 minute)
Aside from the 1 Senator who wants to block health reform because "it will break" Obama, every single leader and expert of all persuasions knows that achieving health reform is crucial for America's health, economy, and sustainability in the very near future. We are on an exponential downward path if we keep our current system and don't act now. And this is another thing Obama got right in emphasizing tonight: that 80% of the components within Health Reform already has bipartisan support (and these include drastic positive reforms such as outlawing insurance companies from denying care based on "pre-existing conditions"--see the last 2 paragraphs of my letter on "Where'd all the fear come from?" below). However, this crucial national effort is still on the verge of being sabatoged by people like that shameless Senator who wants to "break" Obama by breaking health reform.
What I respect about some of Obama's big speeches to date is that he (or his speechwriter) gets the precision to tweak out at the exact point of confusion, of our paralysis, the truer narrative of what has really been happening on a national landscape (he did this in his "Reverend Wright/Race" speech, and he did this to some extent here on health reform): "I will not waste time with those who have made the calculation that it's better politics to kill this plan than improve it."
Agreed. Whatever your political persuasions, whichever your thoughts on the remaining 20% of health reform still in debate, or even if you don't have opinions on either, let's get ALL OF OUR political leaders to work on improving the health care plan and get it passed, rather than kill it.
Click here it'll take you 1 min.