Health care reform bill in Stupak’s hands

Lucia Lopez

A year after the debate on health care reform started, Congress has little success to show for it. The arguments for and against national health care reform are stuck on replay. Republicans say it costs too much, that health care isn’t a constitutionally guaranteed right. Democrats say it’s a right that the government should provide for, that it would lower the national deficit.

We’re stuck at an impasse and there’s no better time than the next couple of weeks to move forward.

Most of us agree that some sort of health care reform is needed. Most of Congress also agrees.

Bart Stupak, U.S House Representative for the 1st Congressional District of Michigan —   which includes Marquette — is not deterred by party lines.

Tom Cory / NW

But it seems that the progress of actually achieving reform will inevitably be defined by clear party line divides.

For more than a year, President Obama has called for political cohesion that focuses on dissolving party lines. Clearly, this didn’t work since no republicans in the House or Senate are expected to vote in favor of the bill.

Unfortunately, this means that political party majorities are the only tool that can be used to get reform for Americans.

Planned Parenthood gave Stupak an eight percent success rating for preserving women’s reproductive rights in 2008. In 2006, it was zero percent. Clearly, Stupak’s stance on abortion has always been clear.

He has also made it clear that his only hang-up with the health care bill is federal dollars going toward abortion.

But it’s time to put the morality of abortion aside; it’s time to  think about the greater good. Progress is about compromise, and Stupak will not budge as he continues to threaten the bill’s enactment.

According to a July 17 Gallup poll, 57 percent of Americans agree with abortion. Yet, Stupak –– along with 11 others –– is jeopardizing the future of health care reform based on a personal feeling toward abortion.

What does this mean for the rest of us? Health care reform is unlikely to pass the House of Representatives, a risky move that, according to a July 22, 2009 Gallup poll, will continue to keep one in six adult Americans without health insurance and without hope.

Meanwhile, Obama’s frustration with Congress has become increasingly  evident and it was epitomized last week when he threatened an up-and-down vote (otherwise known as reconciliation) which would defeat a filibuster. This is good news because the bill would only need a simple majority to win instead of the super majority that a  filibuster would require.

To be clear, I’m certainly not trying to imply that the current health care bill is the ideal solution to the problem of unaffordable insurance for Americans.  In fact, as it stands, it has been completely diluted since the start. In the future, reform must achieve deeper results but small steps, and political parties, might be the only key to success in the end.

What if it this bill fails? The topic of health care reform is not likely to be touched again. It will become just another vital topic added to the list of instant political suicide which Hillary Clinton has already learned the hard way.

As the only industrialized country that doesn’t offer any sort of health care benefits to its citizens, we must progress, and our own Michigan representative has the power to single-handedly make this happen.

The current bill is perhaps not the best option, but it’s a start. One that is obviously seeked by many.

On Wednesday, March 10, Connie Saltonstall, a woman from Charlevoix, announced she would run for election against Stupak in the  August primary because she wants affordable health care for all Americans.

Maybe Stupak needs the reminder that other potential representatives are willing to do what it takes to enact long over-due reform that will help all Americans.