The Government Shutdown And Health Care Reform

By

Leonard Zwelling

The major sticking point that led to the government shutdown that has now just ended, was immigration. The Democrats wanted to make sure that 800,000 Dreamers could stay in the country, the only one these young people really know, and the Republicans wanted more guarantees of border security, including the possibility of funding for the Wall that Mexico was supposed to pay for. Of course, neither has occurred yet. Stay tuned.

No one, in the run up to, during, and after the government shutdown thought that health care was an issue that was causing the shutdown. It wasn’t. But it might be next if the Trumpees continue to erode the ACA as they did with the inclusion in the Tax Bill of the elimination of the individual mandate.

All that is going to do is hasten the day when the Congress will once again have to decide whether or not there is to be a uniquely American system of guaranteed universal access to health care or not. As if!

So far, there is universal access if you are poor, disabled, older than 65, an Indian, a veteran or in the military. Otherwise, not so much and otherwise includes most Americans for now.

My concern is simple. If they couldn’t solve this problem in a bipartisan way in 2010 or since, and they couldn’t solve the immigration problem either, what makes anyone think that Congress can punch its way out of a paper bag on the issue of health care reform. I don’t.

But perhaps a start might consist of determining what any health care reform is supposed to do.

ObamaCare was trying to chip into the 50 million who were uninsured in 2008, when Mr. Obama was elected. It did that somewhat. The Republicans have been trying to undo it ever since and with the Supreme Court making Medicaid expansion voluntary by the various states and the latest chapter, eliminating the individual mandate, it is safe to say that ObamaCare is teetering. We may be going in the wrong direction to any possible solution. What is really needed is a true plan for universal access to quality care at reasonable cost. Hah!

The government shutdown just made this worse.

Now both sides think they can bully the other into relenting on a key issue. The only thing they agreed upon was to reopen the government and go back to legislating and that took three days. And I wouldn’t call what they are doing legislating. At least, not yet.

It is reasonable to assume that the current leaders of both parties in both houses of Congress are inept and unable to deliver on any sort of compromise on anything. They could change our minds if they can get an immigration bill done by February 8. Good luck with that!

It might be time for Mr. Schumer, Mr. McConnell, Mr. Ryan and Ms. Pelosi to forego their continued leadership roles in the Senate and House and give someone else a chance.

Let’s hope they get immigration done. If they don’t it may be time for the country to trade up. As for the president, he’s been out to lunch since this whole thing transpired because he cannot make up his mind on immigration. Or anything else.

These are not the salad days of American politics or American politicians.

Leonard Zwelling