Put a sanitized fork in it?

The special election of Massachusetts Republican State Senator Scott Brown appears to doom the latest Congressional effort to broaden health services in America. If history is any guide it may be a decade before anyone tries again to rationalize America's health delivery service, offering effective care to all citizens and preventing the unfortunate from becoming bankrupted by bad luck. It's possible that Obama, Pelosi, Reid et al may press on with Congressional ping-pong aimed at reconciling the House and Senate versions with a faint hope of persuading Maine Senator Olympia Snowe to break party ranks and move the bill to the president's desk. It's more likely they may abandon all hope on health care at this point. Why bother with a bruising internecine fight over abortion and the booted public option when the outcome is so uncertain?

I do find myself wishing that Democrats could force the issue to a true Mr.-Smith-Goes-to-Washington-style filibuster instead of the filibuster fakery that is currently gridlocking Congress. It would be an inspiration to watch a lone Republican stalwart go up against the special interests among the poor, marginalized, uninsured U.S. working and middle classes in heroic oratory defending America's profit-glutted Big-Pharma and bonus-backslappers in for-profit health care's upper management. That's something no American school child would ever forget, assuming CSPAN could cover it.


U.S. Catholic leadership seem to have accepted the depressing prognosis on health care reform and are positioning themselves for whatever comes next. "The important thing to remember," said the Catholic Health Association's Sister Carol Keehan, "is that even if they throw the bills away and abandon the effort to achieve health reform, that still leaves a lot of people hurting." In other words just because the debate is over, well, the debate's not over with nearly 50 million without health insurance and those of us STILL facing pre-existing condition exceptions, ruinous lifetime care limits and escalating overall costs and co-pays that are draining family budgets.

Also ready to move on are the U.S. Bishops, who had been apparently still ready to go to the mattresses over ethical deficiencies they perceived in the compromise Nelson-Hatch-Casey amendment to the Senate proposal (I confess after multiple reads of Stupak and Nelson and apoplectic "progressive" attacks on same, I still don't understand how any of it would have practically worked), and now appear ready to join a colossal health-care do-over. "The bishops are not abandoning the health reform effort," said Kathy Saile of the USCCB. "But it clearly needs to be done in a different way [than the current bills] and we are very much interested in being a part of that conversation."

The question is do Americans have the mental toughness to go through that all over again or are we reaching a civic battle-fatigue on health care that will allow the economic timebomb of the health care status quo to keep ticking?

Given the Soviet-style party discipline evinced by the Republican Party on health care reform, we may have to go to a Bill Murray-ish Plan B. "Baby steps" anyone?

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.


The latest from america

 10.17.2018 Pope Francis greets Cardinal Blase J. Cupich of Chicago before a session of the Synod of Bishops on young people, the faith and vocational discernment at the Vatican Oct. 16. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)
“We take people where they are, walking with them, moving forward,” Cardinal Blase Cupich said.
Michael J. O’LoughlinOctober 20, 2018
Catherine Pakaluk, who currently teaches at the Catholic University of America and holds a Ph.D. in Economics from Harvard University, describes her tweet to Mr. Macron as “spirited” and “playful.”
Emma Winters October 19, 2018
A new proposal from the Department of Homeland Security could make it much more difficult for legal immigrants to get green cards in the United States. But even before its implementation, the proposal has led immigrants to avoid receiving public benefits.
J.D. Long-GarcíaOctober 19, 2018
 Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, then nuncio to the United States, and then-Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick of Washington, are seen in a combination photo during the beatification Mass of Blessed Miriam Teresa Demjanovich at the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark, N.J., Oct. 4, 2014. (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz)
In this third letter Archbishop Viganò no longer insists, as he did so forcefully in his first letter, that the restrictions that he claimed Benedict XVI had imposed on Archbishop McCarrick—one he alleges that Pope Francis later lifted—can be understood as “sanctions.”
Gerard O’ConnellOctober 19, 2018