Who can tell whether the death and late incapacity of Edward Kennedy has left health care reform from being negotiated across the aisle? Certainly, Teddy could do deals and get compromise bills on the table and endorsements made. I cannot call him a hero, he was not. But he did understand the power levers in the Senate and he did almost always say what he meant and meant what he said. Today's politicians often cannot or will not tell their constituents the truth.
Almost always, controversial matters are resolved with less than perfect bills. This summer we have seen unskilled politicians become embroiled over the Obama myth that everything has to be done all at once on one-sixth of the economy. Kennedy would have probably helped by prioritizing those things most precious to the liberal agenda and carving those into a co-sponsored bill.
Daschle and similar ilk these days prefer to skirt issues and sweep facts under the table with an obvious objective of killing Physician run health programs and judgments. We all know that the insurance industry needs to be reigned in and steps placed to keep people from being barred under "pre-existing conditions" and other similar travesties.
Government could and should be the back-up to provide co-insurance for insurance plans for those few cases that are outliers and provide incentives and credits so that the costs charged are equitable for all. It is not fair nor prudent for the United States to suddenly become the owner and manager of such a huge issue as health care. We are too large. Too many industries are intertwined here because of big Pharm and big imaging and bigger lobbies. But we can plan for the future and launch a transformation that benefits all. We all want everyone covered by a plan at least for routine care and prevention.
We all want doctors and hospitals to be able to pay for quality medicine. What we don't want is for the government to become a Nanny state.
The long term issues generated by the debate include the cost of care at the end of life. The culture of the country dictates much. We don't revere old age we revere celebrity.
People deserve to know the truth and act upon it. People should not be bankrupt in the ordinary course of treatment whether chronic or acute. At the same time, we must move toward end of life care, not by a cramdown in a 1000 page bill, but rather the awareness that some people want to live out their life without intervention and then want to die quietly without pain inflicted upon themselves or their loved ones.
While the adage "They shoot horses don't they" does not directly apply to us, it is tragic to spill thousands of dollars to prolong only briefly a life lived in pain beyond the pale. We must give the power to each patient and at the same time not tax the public when extraordinary measures are taken. Estate and family succession planning must become part of society. This process may take decades because our view of dying is much different than in other more spiritually directed countries. While there is no one answer, we can educate ourselves beginning as teenagers and throughout live about consequences of our choices.
The United States is rich enough. Kennedy had the chance to get it right and would probably have done so. Will his death speed a bill through Congress?
Yes, we can but only but avoiding the Nanny state. Only by being fiscally prudent and more discrete in our communications. And getting some kind of agreement to fix the whole elephant over the next few years (or even a decade). Start by being merciful and funding everyone in basic care. Start by making the taxpayers and their families bear responsibility for their fair share, but only their fair share.
Don't lets play Robin Hood either. The economic recovery will be driven by risk-takers and capitalists.
We must ensure that the rules are followed. We can recover by using our heads and not by cramming something fast and quick when it has little logic and even less certitude.
I won't call Kennedy a hero- his life was filled with mistakes. A lesser family name would have gotten him jail time for his drive off the bridge- and we will never know the truth about what actually happened. A just society can however view his long service and profound ability to negotiate fair change as perhaps ample payback.
I hope he can launch continued improvement in his next stage on the astral plane. We can view his life as testimony that one struggles mightily in life and as we end on earth is a sum total of our experiences and progress. I am not so happy he is going to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery. But it does provide a sense of continuity to the Kennedy brothers story. And we must acknowledge that Teddy was the foot soldier for the ideals of John and Robert. He had to toil long in the bunkers of real politics and has helped create some lasting changes for the better.