President Obama has nominated Kansas Governor Kathleen
Sebelius to be Secretary of Health and Human Services.
In addition to the other challenges that Sebelius will face
in this new role, I hope she will be able to implement the affordable health
care for all which Obama has promised us. To that end, Sebelius will be working
closely with Nancy-Ann Deparle, who will direct the White House Office for
Hopefully, Obama�s team will have better luck than the
Clinton administration did in getting us universal health care, like people
have in the rest of the industrialized world.
But it will be an uphill fight. With things like this, which
provide for the public welfare, the Republicans always love to cry �socialism.�
And, in the case of nationalized health care, they like to warn the sheep that
such a program would result in bureaucrats deciding what kinds of treatment you
can and cannot have.
But that is exactly what we�re dealing with today! Today
it�s the insurance company bureaucrats who are making the decisions on what
kinds of treatment you can and cannot have. The insurance companies are in
business to make money, so the less treatment they spring for -- at the expense
of your health -- the richer the insurance executives become. In his movie
�Sicko,� Michael Moore brought us statements by former insurance company
employees who were paid bonuses for denying claims that could save people�s
I hope that Obama, Sebelius, and Deparle will find a way to
take those third parties out of the mix and leave health care decisions to the
people and our doctors. However, my research suggests that the Obama
administration will leave the insurance companies in the mix. Fingers crossed
in hopes that we at least clip their wings.
But, to do that, they will need to get some Republicans to
And, as the New York Times recently observed, �Despite a
record of working with Republicans in some areas, health care was one where
[Sebelius] often had trouble forging bipartisan agreement. She tried raising
cigarette taxes to pay for health care for the poor but was rebuffed by a
Republican legislature. She promoted universal health care but never reached
that goal. And she proposed consolidating health care programs, but lawmakers
made sure she could not control the new independent authority.�
Those �Christian� Republicans would rather support the
cigarette industry that kills than support the health of the American people.
So this won�t be an easy battle to win.
But we have to try, and, hopefully, our side will win. After
all, it�s one of the things that the American people voted for in November. And
many of those Republicans will be up for reelection very soon.
Mary Shaw is a Philadelphia-based writer and
activist, with a focus on politics, human rights, and social justice. She is a
former Philadelphia Area Coordinator for the Nobel-Prize-winning human rights
group Amnesty International, and her views appear regularly in a variety of
newspapers, magazines, and websites. Note that the ideas expressed here are the
author�s own, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Amnesty
International or any other organization with which she may be associated.