You Bet I’m Angry

I’ve been holding back a bit lately. I haven’t clearly expressed how I feel about the importance of reform and the relevance of its demise. That ends now. This is Catharsis Week at The Incidental Economist and I’m letting my feelings show.

Actually it started yesterday, vicariously though a guest post by Jack Rodolico, my brother-in-law. In his post Jack tells the story of his wife’s battle with a chronic illness and a health care system that isn’t helping her deal with it. This is a true story and one I’ve witnessed first hand. It illustrates a key purpose of health reform, to relieve the suffering and struggle of many like Christina who cannot obtain insurance and the access to care it facilitates.

I will be deeply disappointed and angry if the possibility for relief for Christina and millions like her is cast aside by Democrats who won’t take one vote. I share Jack’s pain, anguish, and frustration:

I am frustrated by the Democrats, who supposedly had 90% of the bill figured out months ago. They squandered their time in disagreement, completely unable to compromise in a timely manner.

I am disgusted by the Republicans, who made a tactical decision to oppose health care reform as a means of grubbing for power.

I am disappointed with the President, who should still be out there selling and campaigning for health care. In fact, he never should have stopped after he made his address to Congress back in September.

As Aaron Carroll wrote last week, this is not a game! For Jack and Christina and countless others this is not about politics. This is real life.

This isn’t a game; it never was. Like it or not, the problems in the United States health care system are real. I have cared for children who have – literally – died because of bad insurance or no insurance. I have personally known people who have lost everything because of a medical tragedy. And I swear to you, these illnesses involve children who were not lazy or shiftless or deserving of these problems in any way….

Next week we’ll have a pretty good sense of whether or not this bill will pass. And whether it does or not, I will keep on [fighting for reform]. If it fails, nothing will have changed. If it succeeds, there will still be much to do.

I won’t celebrate a “win”. This isn’t a game. And if the bill fails, so be it.

I just wish so many of you weren’t so happy about it.

To those of you who may be hoping for or (prematurely?) celebrating defeat of health care reform as a “win,” what is your solution? What do you say to Jack, Christina, the children Aaron Carroll sees? What if those individuals were your family members? What if you are the next one to lose a job, your insurance, to be hit with a chronic illness? What is so horrible about the Democrats’ proposed reforms that justifies denying so many so much? Where do we go from here on coverage and costs?

Or are these not important questions for you? Is it all about the win? About denying Obama a successful first year? About the midterms? After seeing what lack of ability to obtain insurance can do to an individual I cannot fail to be disgusted with that perspective.

In the coming weeks and months I’ll channel my anger into more constructive analysis and thoughts. I’ll cool off. I’ll get back to trying to suggest improvements to the politically possible. Right now I’m angry. The politically possible seems to be shrinking dramatically and quickly and for reasons I cannot yet accept. And neither can people like Jack and Christina. Nor should they.

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