Over the last week or two, we have seen a flurry of debate regarding the health care bill in Congress. Numerous groups have been putting in their views to shape specific parts of the legislation to their liking, and many outright oppose the bill. Democrats have been trying to pander to certain elements within their party on controversial issues like abortion, and Republicans have been organizing to ensure that the legislation does not pass. The result has been a political stalemate; Republicans have not backed down in their opposition, and Democrats have not been able to find an effective compromise with them. If we wanted to, we could assign blame to everyone in Congress for the failure of the legislation to pass to some extent, but that tends to obscure the most important issues in the health care debate.
The fact is, health care is simply not a partisan issue. Over 40 million Americans do not have access to health insurance for a variety of reasons, such as being unable to afford it or being denied coverage by insurers because of pre-existing conditions; no one truly believes that certain individuals ought not to have access to basic medical care. There are no major movements to remove Medicare or Medicaid, which together help to provide medical care for about one-third of our population. Yet, when the Democrats simply try to expand this health care coverage to more Americans so that others can get care when they fall ill, they meet with fierce opposition from conservatives, and are called socialists in many cases. The idea that we have suddenly turned into a socialist nation by expanding government health insurance coverage from 100 million to, say, 120 million, is quite a perplexing one.
Why, then, do conservatives oppose the health care legislation so vociferously, and why are some Democrats making it so difficult for their own party to achieve progress? I believe it is because we have lost sight of the true purpose of this bill. In turning this issue into a partisan political issue, we have turned our backs on impoverished Americans and our own citizens who cannot obtain health insurance simply because, in many cases, they failed to report a minor health problem in the past. No one really believes this is an ideal situation, and to sit back and let it happen is to admit that we, as a nation, have failed in ensuring our own citizens that they receive the most fundamental of their needs. The United States can never truly be the leading nation it strives to be when it spends most of its money on health care, yet has one of the most inefficient health care systems of any developed country. More importantly, it is a moral failure of ours to allow our own citizens to go without basic medical care, and we only have ourselves to blame for polarizing the issue.