August 2021
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The Senate’s Power to Prevent Reform

The world of politics is never supposed to make any real sense. After all, once you pit people’s cherished beliefs against each other, passions are roused and the arguments soon become bitter. It would be better if everyone was just allowed to do what they wanted. But, when it comes to organising medical care for the population, it takes a government to put the right kind of infrastructure in place. People have to be trained as care givers. This takes years and costs a small fortune. Hospitals and clinics have to be built. And then we come to all the support staff who drive the ambulances, keep the places clean and keep the accounts. Ah, yes, the money. All of this work over years has to be paid for. So the $64,000 question is who should foot the bill? It’s at this point that emotions get in the way of common sense. Talk to one side of the argument and they will tell you people who want access to medical care should carry private insurance. Talk to the other side and they will tell you the state should pay for the service out of the tax revenue. It’s never really clear why people disagree. Only people who are in work pay tax. Only people who earn can afford to pay the premiums on insurance. It’s the same money. The only difference is the way it’s collected – one as tax and the other as premiums paid to an insurance company.

But wait! There is a difference! If the state collects in the money, it can use it more efficiently because, unlike the insurance industry, it does not intend to make a profit. So the only reason to support the current system is to allow the insurance industry to continue making an ever larger profit. As the Senate is currently set up, forty-one senators can stop any reform. That’s forty Republicans plus one other. Yet when you look at the number of people these Republican senators represent, it’s only 36% of the US population. This is somewhat unfair. The party with the majority of representatives was voted in by 64% of the population. The Democratic platform could not have been more clear. It was to be reform of health care provision. Yet when you look at the media (which is controlled by big business), all you see reported is the opposition to reform. The “tea party” movement captures all the headlines.

But in all this, there is one really big irony that gets very little coverage. The Republican senators may only represent 36% of the population, but they represent nearly 50% of the children without any health insurance and 42% of the adult population with no insurance. Despite the fact that half the uninsured children in the US are represented by the Republicans, their opposition to any reform that would give the children coverage could not be more aggressive. If we assume the outcome of the reform would be cheap health insurance for almost all US citizens, the Republicans are against it. Their policy is to keep the profits rolling in for the health insurance industry and, if the majority of the people who live in their states have no insurance, that’s just their bad luck. The US is genuinely a strange place. Despite the recession, it’s one of the richest countries in the world yet it has a political party determined to prevent its citizens from enjoying cheap health insurance. Sadly this party with the minority of votes in the Senate could get their way.

About Author
Find Robert Smith’s other contributions at where he gladly shares his opinion on many different subjects and helps people around the globe find a better understanding of the things they’re interested in.

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