The most important issue of our lifetime is health care reform. If reform doesn’t come it will cost us dearly financially as well as physically. And as in most cases, it will have a devastating effect on the Black community. Health care costs have skyrocketed over the past several years to the point where they are one-sixth of our economy today and are projected by everyone to continue to rise at an even higher pace if nothing is done to curtail them.  This will force more and more businesses, large and small, to cut health benefits to their employees.

It’s time for us to get off our butts. Get out of those nice soft chairs and get out to the town hall meetings, community meetings, or at least go to our computer chairs and voice our opinion on health care reform or the last election for President will not have meant a thing.

The most important thing we can have is our health. But without health care reform we will not have that. So it’s critical for all who supported change in the last presidential election to get out and let the politicians, hospitals and health insurance companies know we will not accept anything less than real change. And if they don’t support change, there will be hell to pay from us.

At these meetings we must not be about shouting others with different views down, but listening to all sides of the issue, then making sure that health care reform is implemented.

What are the options?

There are basically three camps battling. The Right Wing conservatives, mostly Republicans are fighting to keep things as they are; where the insurance and pharmaceutical companies pretty much dictate prices and who is covered. They defeated the Clinton plan during the ‘90s, and offered nothing during the 2000-2006 period when they controlled all three branches of government in Washington. They have made it clear that they will not support anything that has a public option in it, or may raise taxes.

On the Left are the liberals, mostly Democrats who support a single payer system in which the government would run the entire health care system much like Medicare does for seniors and people on Social Security. They feel this system would best serve the masses of poor uninsured, low income working people as well as the middle class. They will not support anything that doesn’t have a public option.

The Middle, made up of Democrats, Independents and moderate Republicans not running for political office, want a public option. The public option is simply giving everyone an option between the private insurers and a government plan, basically Medicare competing with the private insurers. This they believe is the only way to bring down or at least slow down the skyrocketing, total out of control health care cost in this country. The Right is saying this would force the private companies out of business because people would automatically chose the less expensive choice, which would lead to the single payer system that the liberals want. The moderates say that the people should have a real choice. Let them decide.

Where does the President stand?

Before his speech even though Obama has made it absolutely clear where he stood from day one when he first started his campaign for president, many are saying that he’s moving too fast, it’s not clear where he stands, he is giving Congress too much leeway, and he has not come up with his own plan which has led to confusion.

So why did we all overwhelmingly support this Black man with the African name? Because he offered change, and his opponent was offering more of the same.

At the top of his list for change were; Health Care, Education and Energy Reform.  And unlike most politicians he has stayed true to his promise. Health Care reform is at the top of his agenda, making it a must for Congress in his first year. He is not to the right or to the left of this issue, but smack dab in the middle, where he’s at on most issues. He has always said he wants a public option to help bring prices down in the health care field. He has always said that people must have a choice, if they want to keep what they have, fine, but if they want to change they should have the same choices Congress has. A public option.

Well, for some reason the masses of us who supported him apparently must feel that after we voted for him that our jobs are finished.

No, not by a long shot, our jobs have just begun.

In order for Health Care to be reformed the House and the Senate must pass reform bills.. President Obama wanted both houses to pass a bill by the August recess, so when they came back in September the bills would be easily conformed to what he wants and passed by both houses and signed into law by the end of the year. The House passed a bill but the Senate did not.

This is what he ran on. This is what most Democrats were elected for, yet something is going wrong.

His opponents have pulled out all the big guns to stop reform in its tracks. They have raised such a stink that some of the Democrats, called Blue Dogs, have forgotten why they were voted into office in Republican states. This fight is for all the marbles. If they can defeat Obama on health care then they’ve started the collapse of the building. The next move is education reform, then energy reform. So by the end of his four years, nothing will have changed.

So we all know where they are coming from. They are throwing up a big smoke screen called deficit spending. Well Obama has made it clear that he will not sign a health care bill that does not pay for itself in the long run. Yet no one seems to hear him.  My question is even if there was a tax increase would it be anywhere near the cost to each individual if we had to pay for our own health care? Would it be anywhere close to the cost to each one of us if there is no health care reform?

If we don’t fix health care, the economy will never get back on track.

If we don’t fix health care millions more Americans are going to die, or suffer unnecessarily.

If we don’t fix health care most of the young people who turned out for the first time to vote will never come out again. Why should they, when Congress is not doing what they were voted into office to do.

Obama was not voted into office just by Democrats and Independents, many Republicans voted for him because they too wanted change. Most people still vote for the person, not the party, so if Republicans really want to stay in office they need to listen to more than just the right wing of their party, and support true health care reform.

What can you do?

Write every Congressman and Senator, not just yours, and let them know what you want. Then email them all. Then pick up the phone and call them all, both parties.  And don’t be afraid to get out and march, write letters to insurance and pharmaceutical companies letting them know your feelings and all the other big players in this health care issue, and encourage everyone you come in contact with to do the same, including family and friends here as well as in other states.  

The Republicans have effectively blocked health care reform for years, yet they pretend that they don’t know why the President is pushing so hard to get it passed this year, they keep talking about the need for patience, the need to wait to get it right. Isn’t this what Black folks were told doing the Civil Rights era. America has been waiting for years, we are tired of waiting. Now is the time for health care reform, there is no tomorrow.

This is a war we must win.

(Ulish Carter is managing editor of the New Pittsburgh Courier, he can be reach at

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