IT’S NOT ABOUT THE UNINSURED?…. Just for a moment, let’s put aside the important discussions of specific provisions — public option, co-ops, mandates — of the health care reform debate. Instead, let’s consider why reform is worthwhile in the first place.

Why do reformers want reform? Painting with the broadest possible brush, there are two main reasons: (1) there are tens of millions of uninsured Americans who have no coverage, a moral outrage in the wealthiest nation in the world; and (2) there are tens of millions who have been, could be, or will be screwed over by insurance companies, and they need some protections.

Whether you like the various proposals or not, this is why health care reform is on the table. It’s what reform is all about. This is what it’s always been about.

If only the leading Blue Dog on health care agreed.

Rep. Mike Ross (D-Ark.) said on Wednesday that providing healthcare to uninsured Americans is “not what this healthcare reform debate is about.”

In making his comments, Ross, who is the centrist Blue Dogs’ health reform point man, questioned one of the primary healthcare goals of the White House and Democratic leaders.

“That is a side benefit to healthcare reform and an important one,” Ross told the Arkansas Educational Television Network. Instead, the fifth-term congressman said the bill should focus on “cost containment.”

We’re the only industrialized democracy on the planet that doesn’t guarantee health care coverage for all of its citizens. Tens of millions of Americans have no coverage, and half of all bankruptcies in the United States stem from health care expenses that destroy families financially.

Addressing this is a “side benefit”?

For what it’s worth, Ross identified specific provisions that would prevent him from voting for reform — forcing Americans who want a private insurer to take the public option, taxpayer subsidies for abortions, coverage for illegal immigrants, rationing, and deficit increases.

Depending on whether Ross is prepared to use Republican-friendly definitions of some of these phrases, it sounds like he should be able to support the Democratic proposal.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.