Monday, May 11, 2009

Obama's hope = Baucus's nope?

When I spent 11 hours in the waiting room of Stroger Hospital's emergency department, it was December. The elections were not long over, and many of my fellow patients, waiting so stoically for treatment during the long hours, still sported hats, buttons and other paraphernalia from the campaign. As you might guess, no one needing care at the county hospital was promoting McCain.

Last week, I was at Stroger again, this time for a long-awaited visit to a specialty clinic. I'll save the details for another time, but as I waited there — I noticed that a few other patients were still wearing Obama 2008 gear. Now, when you're sick and standing in in a long, slow line outside a laboratory, waiting your turn to have blood drawn and pee in a cup, it's not the best time to engage in political discussion, but I tried to talk about health reform a little.

And the impression I got is that none of the people I spoke to have the least idea that Barack Obama has reneged on the promise of single-payer, and turned the crafting of a so-called "reform" over to Congress — to rich, old, white men like Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), in the pockets of the insurance lobby and for-profit medicine, who've decided that single-payer is taboo, that its advocates should not even be heard. Just as they wait, patiently and stoically for health care, they're waiting, trustfully, for their president, the president of "Yes We Can," to do the right thing.

It's enough to make anybody sick to think of it.

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