Sunday, Republican Senate leader, Mitch McConnell told CNN that even if Democrats made a significant concession— such as a provision that would limit malpractice suits against health-care providers — this would not persuade Republicans to vote for health reform legislation. He added that there is probably no way that Democrats could win a single Republican vote—even if they revised their plan.
I think McConnell is right. Republican politicians know that many of the voters who elected them oppose reform.
While responding to a comment by Health Beat reader Greg P. I ran into this statement by a North Carolina college student who opposes reform. She does a good job of articulating why conservatives oppose the entire idea of universal coverage:
“The U.S. Constitution guarantees its citizens the right to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness, yet our country's forefathers never intended to provide our citizens with free health services. If we guarantee it for all citizens, doctors will be overstretched and our tax dollars will pay for the problems of the unhealthy, plunging our economy even further into debt. Health care is a privilege that all Americans have the chance to obtain, not a right that all Americans are guaranteed. . . .
“Guaranteeing free health care to all citizens will increase the demand for medical services which will diminish the quality and accessibility of care because health care providers will be overstretched. The 60 percent of doctors who are self-employed will be hardest hit. That includes specialists, such as dermatologists and surgeons, who see a lot of private patients. Doctors will consolidate into larger practices to spread overhead costs, and they will cram more patients into tight schedules to make up in volume what is lost in margin. Visits will be shortened and new appointments harder to secure, according to Dr. Scott Gottlieb, resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. This means that the quality of doctors will decrease, appointments will be harder to schedule, and the overall system will become less effective.
“Health care is the individual’s responsibility, not the government’s. It is our own responsibility to ensure personal health. Health problems such as obesity, lung cancer, and diabetes can often be prevented by choosing to live a healthier lifestyle. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, 34 percent of Americans are obese and 32 percent are overweight. If health care is guaranteed for everyone, then our tax dollars will be paying for the health problems many citizens who chose not to live a healthy lifestyle. Also, if these citizens are guaranteed health care what incentive would they have to be healthy?"
These are the "philosophical differences" that Obama acknowledged at the summit. I think it is important to recognize that not only Republican politicians but a fair number of our fellow citizens share this point of view. They really don’t believe that health care is a right; they don’t want to pay for someone else's care; and they fear that if we have universal coverage, they will receive less medical attention.
This is why some moderate Democrats are afraid that they will be voted out of office if they vote for health reform. At the other end of the political spectrum, some liberal Democrats in the House are reluctant to vote for the legislation because it doesn’t go far enough.
Conservative voters are warning moderate Democrats that they may lose their seats if they vote for reform. Liberal voters should be equally persistent in expressing their political will— and let liberal Democrats know that they will be in trouble if they vote against reform.
The alternative is neither single-payer nor a public option. It’s no reform—for at least three and probably seven years. The recession guarantees that Democrats will lose votes this fall. And if health care reform legislation fails this year, President Obama’s chances of being re-elected fade. I very much doubt that he would be replaced by a more liberal Democrat.
Conservatives will re-take Washington.