July 26, 2009
On Saturday, there was a big rally for health care in Austin. I attended and expressed an opinion or two. I’m told there were similar events around the country, and ours was the biggest.
We had a huge crowd of people looking for reform. There was also a group that turned out to protest any sort of reform. Folks on both sides waved signs and flags, and some came in costumes. There were too many people for the building to accommodate, so literally hundreds of people demonstrated and/or stood outside.
There’s something ironic about holding a health care rally in July and having so many people out in the brutal 100+ Texas heat. The only thing less healthy, I guess, would have been if people had passed out cigarettes.
I’m not making excuses for silly things that are being said in the national health care reform discussion right now. But it feels sometimes like the heat is making people light-headed.
The Governor was on the radio last week talking about health care — and President Obama’s effort to make sure all Americans have access to it. And being the sort of guy who occasionally threatens legal actions that aren’t really grounded in, you know, the law, he said he might declare a constitutional challenge if Congress decides to give Americans a public option for health coverage.
The Governor’s lucky enough to have lots of options for his health care. He came to Austin in 1984 (when he was elected to the Texas House of Representatives). Like so many, he never left.
So for the 25 years that he’s been on the government payroll, he’s been able to choose to get health care through the state. In his days as a legislator, he also could have sought insurance through his regular provider.
Heck, it was reported this weekend that, since he’s been Governor, he’s even been provided free medical tests by Dr. Kevin Cooper of the prestigious Cooper Institute in Dallas. Talk about access to affordable health care.
Unfortunately, while the Governor enjoys easy access to any care he needs or wants, plays politics, and talks like a TV lawyer, everyday Texans are having a tough time.
Texas is a great place. We lead the world, and we’re proud to lead the world, in a lot of areas. But it’s tough to keep being a leader when employers can’t afford to provide health coverage for their workers, or a parent puts off taking kids to the doctor until they’re too sick to learn.
We can do better, particularly in the area of keeping Texans healthy, but only if our leadership quits whining and starts working. And Texans want to do better. They’re not satisfied with failure.
Just take a look at some numbers and tell me whether the status quo is acceptable:
This is the picture of a crisis. I don’t know what they’re going to come up with, but I pray that Congress and the President will find a solution that covers more people, lets us keep the coverage we have if we like it, and controls the costs we all pay. Because the status quo is crushing far too many of us, particularly in Texas.
And it’s honestly inconceivable to me that anyone would so politicize this issue that they could casually threaten a constitutional crisis simply to make it harder for the other political party to fix such a broken system.
I know the Governor loves his politics – everyone knows the Governor loves his politics. But let’s at least agree that we’re not going to politicize the health of Texans.
There’s a lot more at stake here than the next election.