Like Justice, Health Care Delayed is Health Care Denied

healthRachel Maddow says it so I’m prepared to believe it: Americans are going to get health care reform after all. I suppose President Obama and his Democratic allies will consider it a triumph. But they will get no high fives from me.

Why have they waited so long? They could have used reconciliation – as they plan to do at last – to enact health care reform a year ago. In that year, studies estimate about 40,000 people died because they lacked health insurance.That’s nearly ten times the death toll of the Iraq War.

There’s a legal cliche, often used to advocate an accused person’s right to a speedy trial, that “justice delayed is justice denied.” In this case, the just claim of 40,000 sick people to adequate medical care was delayed, and their right to survival was denied.

These people might have been saved if the President and his allies in Congress had been prepared to pay the political price. But instead of going it alone, the President courted the Republicans in Congress, yielding to their demands in the hope of getting “bipartisan” support. The likely result is a weakened health care bill that will line the pockets of the private insurers.

And the desperately needed coverage the bill reportedly provides for some 30 million uninsured Americans has been withheld for month after month while the politicians in Washington played their sly games.

I find it hard to believe that President Obama really expected Republican support for health care reform. Throughout history the Republican Party has fought every kind of social legislation – Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Civil Rights, Minimum Wage, Unemployment Insurance… and on and on. Why would they change – especially now?

As Pulitzer Prize winning economist Paul Krugman notes in his column today:

The parties now live in different universes, both intellectually and morally.

If Congress enacts reform in the next few weeks — and the odds are growing that it will — it will do so without any Republican votes. Some people will decry this, insisting that President Obama should have tried harder to gain bipartisan support. But that isn’t going to happen, on health care or anything else, for years to come.

Someday, somehow, we as a nation will once again find ourselves living on the same planet. But for now, we aren’t. And that’s just the way it is.

The pollsters say Americans want “bipartisanship.” But they aren’t going to get it – no matter what. So the President might as well stop reading the polls and listen to his heart.