Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Healthcare: It’s Deja vu All Over Again

© 2009 Leighann Lord

My Dad will be 77 this year. He’s proud of his age and is probably the only person in history who called AARP before they called him. And while he looks forward to getting his Senior Citizen discount at fine dining establishments like the International House of Pancakes, he is regularly carded. "Sir, you have to be over 65 to get the discount." My Dad smirks, whips out his drivers’ license and waits for the look of disbelief and admiration. He seriously throws off the old people curve.

It helps that my Dad doesn’t look or act like an old fart. He’s rather cool with his Ipod, email and penchant for bootleg movies. That youth vivaciousness evaporates, however, when it comes to politics. He doesn’t get excited about it anymore. He’s seen elections, politicians, and issues come and go. "They all make promises. They all break promises. And things stay pretty much the same." Such a cynical thought from such a positive guy, but I’m starting to know how he feels.

My first major political heart break came when Hilary Clinton promised and then failed to deliver national healthcare. It seemed like a no brainer that all people should have access to affordable healthcare, but I was young, impressionable and completely naive to the bigger picture that included insurance companies, lobbyists, special interest groups, bureaucracy, doctors, lawyers, and a defacto class system that marginalizes the working poor. I didn’t know about all that then and had my high hopes for affordable national healthcare become akin to believing in Santa Claus.

It is with very cautious optimism that I watch the renewed healthcare debate. I am thrilled that President Obama seems committed to making it happen, but so was Clinton, Nixon and both Roosevelts. Now I’m a little older, a little wiser and I understand it’s no simple matter to make sure that everyone (or almost everyone) is covered. I too would like to know how we’re going to pay for it, how it will work and if it will truly help the ones without, without hurting the ones with.

And even in the face of prior disappointment and unanswered questions I want to believe the greatest country in the world can pull this off, that we can create a system that is the new gold standard and the envy of the world. I want to believe this is attainable in my lifetime. I want to believe I won’t get my heart broken again.

I want to believe I’ll be that hip, hot, happening 77-year-old who doesn’t get reticent at election time. I don’t want to explain the political birds and bees to my hopefully still hopeful kids.

"It’s gonna happen this time, Mom! President Sasha Obama says she’s gonna follow through on her Dad’s promise of national healthcare."

"Okay, Baby. But just in case it doesn’t you might want to take your Grandpa’s advice and stock up on Epsom salts, Tylenol, and band-Aids."

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