Sunday, March 21, 2010

Is it Time for Healthcare Reform?

As I listen to the ongoing debate in the House of Representatives I hear arguments from both sides regarding healthcare. I hear Republicans warning America about the debt that future generations face, the cost in jobs and freedom that healthcare reform will create, and the slippery slope that our nation is facing as we slip into some "socialist" nation with adoption of what they refer to as "Obamacare".

On the other side, I listen and hear stories of individual families suffering without adequate insurance, the 32 million Americans who will now have access to healthcare through some sort of health insurance--whether by co-op or extension of Medicaid or by guarantees that they will not be eliminated from coverage due to pre-existing conditions, dropped because of their own illness, or because they hit their annual or lifetime limit on coverage.

I tried to Google something that Robert Kennedy might have said about this particular issue. Perhaps the quote that made the very name of this blog might be most appropriate. As Robert F. Kennedy said on June 6, 1966, in his Day of Affirmation Address at Cape Town University:

"Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance."

I have heard arguments that somehow this is a question of freedom. That somehow government will be taking away our freedom requiring us instead to purchase insurance that we might not somehow have been interested in buying. That 85% of Americans are happy with their insurance so why should we make them suffer to get the other 15% covered?

The role and purpose of government for me is consistent with what I believe should be all of our purpose in this country--not to wage war although there are times where war is forced upon us, but rather somehow during our brief time that we share our existence with our fellow citizens to act to make life for our fellow Americans a little more secure, a little less more capricious, and a little more dedicated to improve the quality of lives and fight disease and suffering for all regardless of their financial ability to pay.

Ripples start with small disruptions in an otherwise seemingly placid surface. They disrupt equilibrium and start change. Healthcare reform as presented is far from perfect but it is an effort for this nation to join the rest of the industrialized world in recognizing that we cannot go along with spending billions on instruments of death and destruction and not avail all of our citizens of the instruments of health and well-being.

Let us work together with ripple upon ripple of individual efforts at making our nation and our world a better place for us and our children.