The fight is on — again. Mitt Romney, Scott Brown, and Republicans across this country are doubling down against President Obama’s health care reform law. Now that the Supreme Court has said that most of the new law passes constitutional muster, the Republicans are running for office pledging to repeal every aspect of the health care reforms.
For millions of people this isn’t a political issue, it’s a personal one. Their health depends on it.
Massachusetts has led the country in health care reform. Most of us — 98 percent — have health care coverage, and our state leads the country in tackling head-on the ever-growing costs of health care. That is why President Obama used our law as a model for health care reform. But the national Affordable Care Act adds some important elements that improve care even here in Massachusetts.
For seniors, health care reform means expanding Medicare coverage to pick up the costs of prescription drugs. As the donut hole closes, the average Massachusetts senior has so far saved about $650. But Mitt Romney, Scott Brown, and their fellow Republicans want to take that away.
For young people, health care reform means staying on their parents’ insurance plans until they are 26. So far, more than 20,000 young people here in Massachusetts have taken advantage of this. But Romney, Brown, and their fellow Republicans want to take that away.
The shocking surrender of Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat to an insurgent Republican state legislator, Scott Brown, has imperiled President Obama’s health reform initiative. The Massachusetts “massacre” has unleashed a tidal wave of second guessing from Democratic pundits. Obama, the left argues angrily, got what he deserved for trying to find a bipartisan solution to health reform, for abandoning the beloved “public option” and snuggling up to the corporations they wanted to punish. If only he’d remained pure to their ideals, Martha Coakley would be a Senator and he’d have a bill on his desk by the end of the week. General Custer could not have gotten worse advice.
It’s possible that the loss of Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat might end up saving both health reform and the Obama Presidency. The President seems to understand what happened in Massachusetts better than his more ideological brethren. Disarmingly, he argued the day after Brown’s victory that it was produced by the same popular anger as his own election, though it’s worth noting an important qualitative difference. The 2008 election coincided with a full blown market panic, which the President’s calm and policies helped quell; What he is now facing is much closer to voter despair, as the domestic economy digests a huge overhang of debt, and unemployment lingers above the toxic 10% level.
One in six Americans at some point during this year will go without health insurance. Most of them at any given point in time do not need it.
One in ten working Americans are without gainful employment right now. Every one of them wants a job . . . right now.
That as much as anything explains Tuesday’s Senate special election result in Massachusetts, the only state in the union that has a health insurance plan similar to ones passed in the House and Senate last year. Were voters there rejecting their own system? Not according to every poll that asks the question. The Bay State has the lowest uninsured rate in the nation; local residents have learned to participate in the insurance exchange set up under its plan (passed under a Republican governor); and people seem to like it.
So any commentary that seeks to make health care reform the scapegoat for voters choosing Scott Brown, an obscure state senator, over an aloof attorney general Martha Coakley, is off the mark.
Massachusetts hasn’t solved its health care problem. Its costs are still rising at an unsustainable pace, suggesting the reforms in the national legislation won’t solve that problem either.
Not one to comment on broader political issues but just can’t help myself today after awakening to the news that Kennedy’s Senate seat has gone to the Republican upstart Scott Brown. Whatever happened to carrying on Kennedy’s legacy for healthcare reform, something Martha Coakley vowed to support and Brown vowed to defeat? Has Massachusetts really gone Red (or just a lighter shade of Blue)?
Reflecting on my own thoughts and vote for Martha, have come up with the following missteps of Martha’s that ultimately led to her losing what was considered a sure thing, Kennedy’s seat in Congress.
1) Assuming the cat is in the bag. Skating to an overwhelming victory in the Democratic primary, Martha naturally assumed that Kennedy’s seat was her’s for the taking. Sure, the Republicans would put someone on their ticket, a sacrificial lamb, but a serious contender, no. Surprise, surprise. Yes, the Republicans put forward a relatively unknown State Senator from a small community, but this unknown Scott Brown proved to be an extremely engaging and aggressive politician. By the time Martha’s political machine realized that they had a serious challenger on their hands, it was too late, his momentum too great.
Tuesday’s Republican victory in Massachusetts means the current Democratic health care bills will not be on the President’s desk in 2010.
Forget the crazy talk of ramming something through—including just having the House pass the pending Senate bill.
I’ve talked to lots of people in the past few months that didn’t like the Democratic effort but conceded that the Dems won the 2008 election on a platform to do health care their way. They would say, “elections matter” and could, albeit begrudgingly, understand Democratic attempts to pass their brand of health care.
But losing Ted Kennedy’s former seat in Massachusetts with the singular issue being health care?
The game has changed. Democrats just can’t any longer spin the polls that for months have been so negative on the Democratic health care efforts.
The conclusion is now crystal clear—the people don’t want this. For goodness sakes—they rejected it in Massachusetts! On the political shocker scale this rivals “Dewey Defeats Truman” and the ’94 elections.