Mr. Cruz from Texas, late Monday night during the waning debates in the House, made a statement I’ve been stewing over ever since. He said, in reference to the Affordable Care Act, that “Instead of aiming at methods to help the 30 million Americans in need, the President passed a law that was directed at 230 million people.” He went on to talk about why this was bad or unnecessary, but I was stuck on the fundamental lack of perception in his statement.
The option to have access to basic health care should be a fundamental right for any American citizen. It should not be weighted on genetic conditions, your income bracket, or any other pre-conceived ideals. The industry would love to limit access, much like auto insurers, to only those who will cost them the least. That’s good business – I get that. But the option to be able to do basic preventative care in a world of increasing population, exposure to illness, and potential injury from the environment should not be optional – it should just be present.
Now, someone has to pay for it – (we won’t discuss whether the costs charged are fair or not, because that’s a whole different topic) – and if you are employed, you should invest something in your own care. So long as the option is available to you, of course.
There was a time in this country, if you were a minority, you didn’t have many options available to you. You were limited by a fact of birth which you had no control over, judged by external appearances and given little to no options to change that situation. Many laws have been passed to rectify that – beginning with the most sweeping of changes under President Lincoln.
Then lawmakers argued we would destroy the fabric of the American economy if we passed such legislature. Similar arguments have been made against rights for women and every minority grouping in the country. Strangely, the US is the second largest producer of cotton (China leads the way); as of 2011 the US was the fifth largest producer of sugar; and (sadly in my opinion) as of 2009 we’re still the 4th largest producer of tobacco in the world (China leads this as well). So apparently, those industries didn’t wither and die after all. Some of the most progressive inventions in those industries came from the very people lawmakers tried to limit.
At the time, Lincoln recognized the need to not pass piecemeal legislature that address specific situations here or there but to make a sweeping reform for the betterment of the entire populace – current and future. Since then multiple laws amending, shaping or redirecting that legislature have been passed. Some have been great successes, while others are a miserable failure. None of them would have had a chance without the grand stepping stone to build upon.
Likewise, in this nation, I believe there will be a time we look back and see a healthcare system that is available to all. It will likely look different than the initial Affordable Care Act. It will be polished and honed with experience and the progression of time. Generations later will never know a time people could be refused healthcare because they were born with a defect. They will never know a time when basic preventative care cost more than a person could afford, so they went without – endangering themselves and the entire populace.
But first we needed the grand stepping stone, currently called the Affordable Care Act, – now, Mr. Cruz – why don’t you and your colleagues join the historical motion started here and begin shaping things in a bipartisan way? Why don’t you put aside your agenda to get reelected or collect some more donations, and start finding a way to make what exists work better instead of trying to do away with it altogether? Instead of looking behind you and trying to undo what’s been done – why not look forward and do something new and improving regardless of party lines? Let’s be clear, the negotiations have to go both ways between the parties. There has to be a willingness not to “win” but to succeed together. Both the House and the Senate have to bend.
Regardless, the current situation has nothing to do with this legislation. You, Congress, have some basic duties – much like the President. If he decided he no longer would be willing to speak to other nation’s leaders or make diplomatic decisions, Congress would be the first to claim he was not doing his basic duty as President. However, for four years there has not been a budget passed. Sure, you’ve passed continuing resolutions and piecemeal legislature to keep us limping along during a very difficult economic time – but that’s not your job. Your job is simple: House writes a bill, Senate writes a bill – you both come to the table and figure out a compromise between the two and PASS a BUDGET.
Why not focus on that for now, and then worry about affecting history after? The House can start by admitting that the Senate, in passing the budget in the “CR Clean Bill” without changing the numbers they heartily dislike, has offered a large olive branch. An equal and opposite motion from The House regarding the bill and the upcoming debt ceiling deadline would go a long way towards giving us all a little more faith in our Congressional leadership.
After which, fixing the Affordable Care Act – together – should be a walk in the park. (Provided it’s not shut down, of course.)