Today in his address to the nation from a children's hospital President Obama stated, "We can't afford the politics of delay and defeat when it comes to health care. There are too many lives and livelihoods at stake." He couldn't be more right. Now is not the time to hold up health care over every single thing that needs to be fixed. Now is the time for bold action to make good, affordable health care a right. The question is, can Congress rise above the demands of every lobbying group and make it happen?
Two House committees have now approved legislation that will make good health care affordable to American families and small businesses, stop insurance company abuses and offer a choice of private insurance or a public health insurance plan. Despite united Republican opposition the bills passed the committees with the support of 90 percent of Democrats. With key votes ahead in the next 10 days, It's time for all members of Congress to get on the right side of history.
There are two types of arguments in the debate. First, there are obstructionists, mostly from "the party of no," who just want to block health care reform to politically damage the president. In a recent call to conservative activists in the Republican Party, Sen. DeMint said, "If we're able to stop Obama on this, it will be his Waterloo. It will break him." It is clear that they have no concern for the millions of Americans facing rising premiums and who are one serious illness away from bankruptcy.
Secondly, there are some in Congress who are missing the big picture. Yes, there are parts of this legislation that we all want to improve on. However, it is simply ridiculous to vote against an entire structural change that will provide quality, affordable health care to thousands of your constituents because it doesn't address ever problem in health care. Work with your colleagues to make it better -- don't block it.
We can't make any excuses that will embolden the opponents of reform. There are real consequences for people each day that we put this off. Here is what happens every three weeks that we delay health care reform in America:
- 143,250 people will lose their health insurance coverage [pdf]
- 53,507 people will file for bankruptcy because they can't pay their medical bills
- 1,265 people will die [pdf] because they lack coverage
Washington insiders want to talk about the horse race, and the political bickering, but that is not what the American people care about. People care about premiums rising four times faster than wages, not bipartisan compromises that will water-down reform.
Just this week in Tennessee, hundreds of citizens with no access to health care lined up for a Remote Area Medical event. Remote Area Medical was created to serve people in third world countries, but now spends most of their time in the U.S. as the only alternative for thousands of people all over the country to see a doctor -- including thousands of children. Stan Brock, Remote Area Medical's founder, said, "We have had to cut back on our operations in places like Haiti, Guatemala and India because of the tremendous demand here in the United States."
Enough is enough. Big changes like this don't come easy. It's time for our leaders to stand up for us and rise above the petty political back and forth. No excuses -- health care can't wait!