The politics of health care reform

December 9, 2009 1:56:30 PM PST
It's such a charade, all this politicking about health care reform.

The big compromise now seems to be having reform that doesn't include the so-called "public option," which means the government guaranteeing health care for the 40 million-or-so folks who now don't have it.

Which would essentially not be reform at all -- just a nice new package to guarantee that the private insurance and pharmaceutical companies have less competition and a greater chance at more profits.

Is that reform? There are many people who say, "no."

But the push to pass something - anything - is strong, especially because it's at the top of this new President's to-do list.

Why it's all a charade is that people are dancing around the basic question of what Americans should be guaranteed, besides the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. This is not, as the talk-radio crew would have us believe, about socialism. It's about social and economic justice. In the wealthiest country on the planet, should Americans be guaranteed basic necessities?

And before you scoff and dismiss the notion as a page out of Mao's playbook, remember that we as a society already do this for so many things. Education for one. Food and health care and housing, for the poorest of the poor.

And how much does it cost us to have people who have no health insurance? Billions. How much money do we as a society lose when people can't afford health care coverage? Or when there's a catastrophic illness and they have to sell everything?

The case has been made that guaranteed health care coverage is in our economic self-interest. The whittled-down bill - and we still don't know all the details - seems to have sidestepped that basic issue.

We'll have the latest on the health care reform debate, tonight at 11.

Also at 11, we're in the Bronx, where police are looking for the disturbed people who torched a church and scrawled the walls with hateful, satanic messages.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Lee Goldberg's AccuWeather forecast, and Scott Clark with the night's sports, including the big trade for Curtis Granderson and re-signing of Andy Pettitte by the Yankees, and the benching of injured Jets Quarterback Mark Sanchez.

I hope you can join Liz Cho and me, tonight at 11.

BILL RITTER


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