Thursday, March 18, 2010

Why health care must be passed now

Those attacking the health care bill are fond of medical metaphors: “assisted suicide,” “dead on arrival,” “the wrong prescription.”

But the best metaphor for the current situation is “emergency treatment” — beginning the essential, long-overdue task of fixing an ailing health system before it fails.

Nothing that could be done to improve American health care right now is more important than passing the current legislation.

It’s not the final cure, of course. But without this advanced life support, we won’t even be able to begin treatment. Our “patient” — America’s failing health insurance system — will lie on a stretcher outside the emergency room, hemorrhaging dollars. More Americans will be at the mercy of insurance companies when they seek coverage. Costs will continue soaring at unsustainable rates. Our imperious and oligopolistic insurance industry will keep covering less and less of families’ health spending — raising premiums and deductibles, dropping services, denying care.

No patient should face this — certainly not one that has waited a century for serious treatment. Every time health care reform for working-age Americans has been debated in the past, the defenders of the indefensible status quo have won.

Now they are at it again — dispensing lies and half-truths as insight, peddling fear as fact. Polls show a majority of Americans like all the major elements of the bill, yet those who are against it still outnumber those who are for it.

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