John Dingell has been working for health care reform longer than just about anybody else in America. Despite all the setbacks of the last year, he is still out there fighting.
That was obvious on Saturday (February 27, 2010) at the Michigan Democratic Party State Central Committee meeting in Livonia. Congressman Dingell brought people to their feet with a stirring call for reforming a system that is both the most expensive in the world and ineffective.
He laid out the case for reform: Health insurance premiums now average $25,000 a year for American families. They have doubled in the last 10 years and are expected to double again in the next 10 years. Yet we still rank 19th in the world in infant mortality. The number of people without insurance is at 47 million and growing.
Dingell admitted the bill doesn't do everything he would like. It doesn't even do everything Teddy Roosevelt wanted. Teddy Roosevelt pushed for national health care in 1912. That's TEDDY Roosevelt.
But Dingell said it does a lot of good things -- extending the solvency of the Medicare trust fund for nine years, ending discrimination against people with pre-existing conditions, ending the ability of insurance companies to just cut off your coverage even as you are being wheeled into the operating room, expanding coverage to 31 million people, and ending the extravagant subsidies to the private Medicare Advantage programs.
Dingell says it's time to end Republican obstructionism in the Senate, where he said Republicans "vote No on everything from the prayer to the motion to adjourn."
The rules of the Senate, he said, shuold not "deny the American people the right to have a simple majority vote on one of the most pressing issues of our time."
Amen to that.