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Guest Column

What’s the diagnosis: Are you sick of the unhealthy healthcare debate?


As we've seen over the past few months, (if paying attention to any headlines), the leadership in the U.S. Congress has been struggling to pass a variety of versions of bills to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act in order to please the base voters in their home districts. Even adding in the vice president as a tie-breaker with some of those votes, still no bill has passed both chambers.

Why? And what can we do as seemingly insignificant individual citizens to help?

Why haven't any of these attempts worked? The party in leadership has the presidency and leadership in both chambers. Why can't they get anything through? Well, as Einstein said, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

So let's look at how unhealthy the process has been.

Thus far, we've seen little to no protocol followed that we know works at the state level. Unlike Washington, in the state Legislature, we can often (not always) get things done because we do what we know works - we use civility, the chamber procedural rules and bipartisanship.

But what we've seen in D.C. recently is none of those.

There have been countless jabs, pokes and sneers right under the Capitol dome, modeling to the whole country how uncivil many of our congressional members have become. Breaking with decades of history, there have been political games abusing procedural rules to sidestep the usual voting procedures and avoid transparent public committee policy hearings. And, sadly, there has been no attempt to reach across the aisle and work with the other party to come up with win-win viable solutions to our healthcare coverage challenges.

Maybe naively, I used to believe that all of the people in Congress were fully acting in the true spirit of public service of the common good. Now I'm not so sure. But I can't believe they actually want to see people suffer or die, right? Have their egos or desire for getting re-elected taken over their respect for the process put in place by our forefathers? Or their common sense or civility? Is the congressional leadership really that "sick?" We'd never be able to get away with this in the private sector. We'd be fired by now, or at least reprimanded for this type of behavior.

So what can we do as lowly citizens?

We can (and should) demand that just as a doctor starts with her patient, they need to get to the root causes of the symptoms with a diagnosis and then come up with a treatment plan, conferring with their colleagues for second and third opinions thoughtfully. It's hard to see a good prognosis possible if the process you're using is ill itself.

It's time congressional leaders drop their egos and apparent need to do "something" and just do the "right thing" for the health of all Americans, not just a few.

If our communal goal is to have a healthy society and fiscal responsibility, then we need to operate with healthy processes, and that includes all voices at the table for transparent brainstorming and listening to each other respectfully. Only then will we be able to truly heal the sick and begin to restore our dignity as a nation.

Please call your senators today, and let's start the healing process together.

Linda Newell termed out as the state senator of Senate District 26 and is now educating people on how to understand and influence their government. She may be reached at senlindanewell@gmail.com, www.lindanewell.org, www.senlindanewell.com, @sennewell on Twitter, Senator Linda Newell or @TheLastBill on Facebook.

Linda Newell


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