Sunday, March 21, 2010

Congressman Jim Cooper does the right thing

Brad DeLong has been doing a series of posts today that started out being headed "As RomneyCare Moves Toward Possible Final Passage..." (an appropriate title, since the final Democratic plan closely resembles the system enacted in Massachusetts when Mitt Romney was Governor, though Romney tries to pretend otherwise) and have gradually shifted to "As RomneyCare Approaches Near-Certain Final Passage...".

Some of these posts have been about wavering Congressional Democrats who decided, at the Very Last Moment, to vote for health care reform. Congressman Jim Cooper of Tennessee described his decision to do that with a statement that deserves noting:
I woke up this Sunday morning, said my prayers, and finally decided that I will vote YES on health care reform.

Having heard from tens of thousands of Middle Tennesseans on all sides of the issue (including the flood of messages in the last few days and hours), and having spent months studying the various bills, I know that America must improve its health care system because it is unsustainable. This legislation will make it better.

Any decision of this magnitude must be made very carefully, after weighing every concern. We Nashvillians are proud of our outstanding health care community that makes us “the nation’s health care industry capital.” Given our community’s expertise, it is interesting to note that:

· Every Nashville hospital strongly supports the legislation, whether it’s St. Thomas, Vanderbilt (both University and Hospital), Centennial, Meharry Medical School, Nashville General, Summit, Skyline, or Southern Hills.

· A majority of physicians who contacted me support the legislation and, although the Tennessee Medical Association opposes it, the TMA’s national organization, the conservative American Medical Association, supports it.

· A majority of local nurses support the legislation, along with the American Nurses Association.

· Despite media controversy regarding abortion, the Catholic Health Association, Catholics United, and groups representing 59,000 Catholic Sisters support the legislation.

· The largest Nashville and national senior organization, AARP, supports the legislation.

It means a lot to me that so many local people who know so much about health care agree with my decision. [....]

The bottom line is that this legislation offers the only realistic hope that most Americans have for getting a fair deal in today’s private health insurance markets. [....] No matter what your insurance company is, most Tennesseans are only one illness away, one pink slip away, or one premium hike away from being mistreated by current insurance practices: discrimination against pre-existing conditions, arbitrary premium pricing, and last-minute rescission of coverage when you need it most. This legislation will cover 32 million hardworking, middle-class Americans who are left out in the cold by today’s insurance practices. Rival legislation only attempts to cover 3 million uninsured people, or less than 10% of the problem. America can, and must, do better. [....]

Regardless of what happens to this legislation today, America cannot afford to ignore the growing crisis in financing today’s medical system. In the future, we need to focus on these issues every year, not every 15 years. Passage of this legislation is absolutely certain to do that. Flaws will need to be corrected, adjustments made, new ideas explored. I have a list ready. [....]

I am well aware of the fact that this is a big vote, and perhaps a career-limiting decision. But I think most folks back home want me to do what is right, not just what’s temporarily popular. [....]
You can read the rest here.

Brad's reaction:
Put a ring on his finger! Dress him in a fine robe and put sandals on his feet!! Slaughter the fatted calf!!! Let there be music and dancing!!!! For our brother who was dead is now alive!!!!! He who was lost now is found!!!!!!
Makes sense to me.

--Jeff Weintraub