Monday, March 22, 2010

America finally catches up to the rest of the civilized world

The United States is the only advanced industrialized nation that fails to provide or guarantee health care coverage for its citizens. The historic legislation passed last night by the House of Representatives and signed into law today by President Obama does not change that completely but it goes a long, long way toward ending this indefensible neglect of the American people. By 2019, between 94 and 95 percent of indivuduals below Medicare age who are legal residents of this country will be covered by health insurance. That is something we should be proud of.

Not only that, insurance companies will no longer be able to reject or charge exorbitant rates to those with "pre-existing conditions." They will no longer be able to stop coverage when a person becomes ill or cap the amount of coverage they will provide during any given year.

Working Americans already covered by employer insurance will see little if any change, except for the fact that they will now be allowed to include their children on their health insurance policies until they reach the age of 26. And, if they lose their jobs, they will not lose the ability to have health insurance - and in this economy that's important.

This landmark legislation should be viewed as a beginning and not an end. It should also be noted that there will be those who will continue to use demagoguery and outright lies to continue to fight it. One of those demagogues was seen outside the Capitol yesterday holding a sign that said "Doctors not dictators." I wonder if this misguided soul knew that the new medical coverage reform law was endorsed by the American Medical Association.

It is my belief that this reform will achieve its goals. But at least we can, despite all the roadblocks placed in front of it, celebrate the fact that we are finally beginning the process of doing the right thing for the American people.

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