Message to Dems. on health care reform: “Don’t cave on us”

The biggest concern I have about health care reform isn’t the Republicans or even the insurance companies. It’s the Democrats. Today, the front page of the Washington Post (which everyone in D.C. still reads) has an article on this very issue:

As Congress returns to begin an intense debate over reshaping the nation’s $2.2 trillion health-care system, prominent left-leaning organizations and liberal House members are issuing a warning to their Democratic allies: Don’t cave on us.

The early skirmishing — essentially amounting to friendly fire — is perhaps the clearest indication yet of the uphill battle President Obama faces in delivering on his promise to make affordable, high-quality care available to every American.

Disputes over whether to create a new government-sponsored insurance program to compete with private companies shine a light on the intraparty fissures that may prove more problematic than any partisan brawl.

More than 70 House Democrats recently warned party leaders that they will not support a broad health reform bill that does not offer consumers a government-sponsored policy, and two unions withdrew from a high-profile health coalition because it would not endorse a public plan.

“It’s way too early” to abandon what it considers a central plank in health reform, said Andy Stern, president of the Service Employees International Union. He said the organization pulled out of the bipartisan Health Reform Dialogue because it feared its friends in the coalition were sacrificing core principles too soon. “You don’t make compromises with your allies.”

Stern, who knows a thing or two about negotiating, is right. Democrats are famous for negotiating with themselves and offering concessions and compromises before being asked. That can’t happen this time.

Chris wrote a post earlier today about Americans postponing visits to the doctor because of cost. That’s just wrong. But, it doesn’t happen to members of Congress, their families or their staff. It’s not happening to the Cabinet or the White House staff either. Those people all have excellent health care coverage. Everyone should.

And, anyone who doesn’t think it matters should read the front page article in the other paper that everyone in D.C. reads. The New York Times profiles the Walker family:

When Danna Walker left the second-floor conference room and returned tearily to her desk — where someone had already deposited a packing box for her belongings — her first thought was not of the 14 years she had worked for DHL or the loss of her $37,000-a-year salary.

It was of Jake. In three months, once her benefits ran out, how in the world would she provide health insurance for Jake, her mountainous, red-headed 21-year-old son, who had learned three years earlier that he had metastatic testicular cancer?

Since the day she was laid off in October, Ms. Walker and her husband, Russ, co-owner of a struggling feed store here on the outskirts of Houston, have mounted a largely fruitless quest to find affordable coverage for Jake’s pre-existing condition. Their odyssey has become all too familiar to millions of newly uninsured Americans who suddenly find themselves one diagnosis away from medical and financial devastation.

If members of Congress had to miss doctor visits because they couldn’t afford to pay or if members of Congress spent days trying to get coverage for their kid’s pre-existing condition, I have a feeling we’d have real health care reform.

On October 27, 2010, Joe was one of five bloggers who interviewed President Obama. Joe is a DC-based political consultant with over twenty-five years of experience at both the state and federal level. Joe has managed political operations and legislative efforts for both candidates and issues-based organizations. For seven years, he was the Director of State Legislation at Handgun Control, Inc. He served as that organization's first Political Director during the 2000 cycle. Joe is a graduate of the University of Maine School of Law. In addition, he has a Masters in Public Administration from Lehigh University and received his B.A. from the University of New Hampshire. Joe also has a fun dog, Petey, a worthy successor to Boomer, who got Joe through eight years of Bush and Cheney. Joe likes to think he is a world class athlete having finished the 2005 Chicago Marathon in the time of 4:10. He has completed six other marathons as well -- and is still determined to break the four hour mark.

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