BIDEN JOINS THE FULL-COURT PRESS…. Yesterday, we saw Vicki Kennedy’s op-ed in support of Democratic health care reform plans in the Washington Post; today we see Vice President Biden’s op-ed on the same subject in the New York Times.
While it is not perfect, the bill pending in the Senate today is not just good enough — it is very good. Insurance companies will no longer be able to deny coverage to those with pre-existing conditions or drop coverage when people get sick. Charging exorbitant premiums based on sex, age or health status will be outlawed. Annual and lifetime caps on benefits will be history. Those who already have insurance will be able to keep it, and will gain peace of mind knowing they won’t be priced out of the market by skyrocketing premiums. And more than 30 million uninsured Americans will gain access to affordable health care coverage.
That is not all. President Obama and I know we have to put our fiscal house in order. This is why those who claim they oppose reform because they fear for our country’s fiscal stability should finally acknowledge what the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office makes crystal clear: not only is the Senate bill paid for, it is this country’s single largest deficit-reduction measure in a dozen years.
Biden expresses disappointment about the loss of the public option, and notes Howard Dean, by name, as a critic who wants to see the effort defeated. The V.P. responds, however, by emphasizing “the magnitude of what [this bill] has the potential to accomplish.”
Those who would vote no on this bill need to look into the eyes of Americans who don’t have health care now and tell them they’re going to be better off without this bill — better off continuing to live without health coverage. They should explain to all those Americans who are denied coverage because they have pre-existing conditions or whose insurance ran out because of lifetime caps that they don’t need this bill. And they should tell the families who have insurance and the small-business owners who provide it that the relentless rise in their premiums without this bill will somehow make them glad it didn’t pass. […]
If the bill passes the Senate this week, there will be more chances to make changes to it before it becomes law. But if the bill dies this week, there is no second chance to vote yes. What those who care about health insurance reform need to realize is that unless we get 60 votes now, there will be no health care reform at all. Not this year, not in this Congress — and maybe not for another generation.
A couple of things to note here. First, the target audience of Biden’s piece seems to be Democrats, liberals, and proponents of health care reform. The message seems to suggest the White House is genuinely concerned that Democratic policymakers are poised to achieve the generation’s most important progressive policy accomplishment — a triumph decades in the making, overcoming fierce attacks from Republicans, the insurance industry, corporate lobbyists, and right-wing activists — only to have the left feel disappointed, frustrated, and dejected by the success of health care reform.
And on a related note, if the White House is increasingly concerned about this, expect more messages like Biden’s in the coming weeks and months. If the reform bill is signed into law, it’s the preliminary end of the policy work. But as the op-ed reminds us, it’s not the end of the sales job.