The Nation editorial urging Congress to support President Obama’s health-care reform legislation recognized that the measure was flawed. But it argued that there were practical and political reasons for supporting it.
The core point was that passing the bill needed to be seen as part of a process, not as a finished product.
As such, the editorial closed with the lines:
For all these reasons, we support passage of the bill, even as we urge the progressive community to begin the struggle immediately to correct its many flaws and improve its protections. Some of this can be done quickly, via the reconciliation process. Some of it can and should be done with new legislation, such as robust public option bills by Senator Sherrod Brown and Representative Alan Grayson and proposals to expand Medicare and eliminate the health insurance industry’s anti-trust exemption.
If this crucial second step is taken quickly and boldly, progressives will have an agenda and an argument for maintaining the pressure through this year’s election cycle and in the years to come–when the crucial details of the reform will be implemented. Are we prepared to carry on a knock-down, drag-out fight with the insurance and pharmaceutical industries? The opposition is formidable, but there is a base for mobilization in both houses of Congress. Ultimately, our message must be that genuine reform begins, and only begins, with passage of the current legislation. It ends with achievement of the goal that should be our new battle cry: Medicare for All.
On Sunday, that the House passed the legislation.
On Tuesday, it was signed by the president Tuesday at a celebratory White House ceremony, where Obama declared that: "We have now just enshrined the core principle that everybody should have some basic security when it comes to their health."
Now it is time to begin building a "Medicare for All" framework around that core principle
And, as we suggested in the editorial, there are immediate steps that can be taken.
First, however, let’s be clear: This reform, while meaningful, is insufficient and must itself be reformed — or, at the very least, dramatically expanded and improved.
Here’s what the leaders of Physicians for a National Health Care Program say about it:
As much as we would like to join the celebration of the House’s passage of the health bill last night, in good conscience we cannot. We take no comfort in seeing aspirin dispensed for the treatment of cancer.
Instead of eliminating the root of the problem – the profit-driven, private health insurance industry – this costly new legislation will enrich and further entrench these firms. The bill would require millions of Americans to buy private insurers’ defective products, and turn over to them vast amounts of public money.
The hype surrounding the new health bill is belied by the facts:
* About 23 million people will remain uninsured nine years out. That figure translates into an estimated 23,000 unnecessary deaths annually and an incalculable toll of suffering.