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Politics

No Recess Without a Bill

Posted by Christopher Long on 07/23 at 11:48 AM

With nearly 47 million Americans uninsured, with an economy that is still struggling to find its footing on new, greener ground, and with millions of us sacrificing pay raises and vacations this summer, Congress should be made to stay in session until a comprehensive healthcare bill is passed.

No bill, no recess.

This is not a question of rushing a bad bill through Congress. It is a question of insisting that Congress do the urgent business of the people in a timely manner. Members of both houses should be made to work continuously for as long as it takes to pass a strong healthcare bill. This is the single most important task they were elected to undertake.

The bill they pass should do at least three things.

First, it should ensure that all Americans are covered.  It is a crime that almost 16 percent of Americans do not have health insurance in this country. 

Second, the bill needs to bring down the rising cost of healthcare by increasing efficiencies, rewarding best practices and forcing private insurance companies to make decisions based not on how to maximize profits, but on how to deliver the highest quality of care. These goals must be met whether by means of a strong public option or by robust and rigorous regulations combined with “exchanges” modeled after the existing plan in Massachusetts. The details are difficult, but Congress should remain in session until they are worked out.

Third, healthcare reform needs to be paid for in a way that does not increase the federal deficit. In addition to any cost savings the plan should generate by increased efficiencies and leveraging large economies of scale to negotiate decreased healthcare costs, revenue will need to be raised in some way. Ideas range from taxing the wealthy to revising the level of tax exemptions we offer on employer provided benefits. That tax-exemption is highly regressive insofar as those with the most generous employer-provided packages receive the most tax relief. However it is paid for, though, all Americans need to recognize that the small sacrifice each of us might be asked to make is worth ensuring that all of us are covered.

We should insist that Congress stay in session until they pass a comprehensive bill that meets the three goals outline above. Without such a bill, they should not be allow out for recess.

{name} Author: Christopher Long
Bio: Associate Professor of Philosophy / Director of Graduate Studies / The Pennsylvania State University

Comments

Posted by Ted Loder
07/29 at 08:02 AM

Chris,
I appreciate your blogs. The topics of your commentaries are timely and your comments are thoughtful, stimulating and accurate.  What I appreciate most about them is that though they have political relevance, they transcend the usual political diatribe by adding an ethical dimension which we all need to consider.  We all know the intricacies of the medical bill are complicated but that doesn’t excuse the responsibility of legislators to keep their eyes on the larger vision of what the country needs and the price of quibbling and doing little or nothing to deal with the growing problems of health care. Keep on sharing that larger vision. Ted

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