The Power of No

. . . . What really struck me about the meeting, however, was the inability of Republicans to explain how they propose dealing with the issue that, rightly, is at the emotional center of much health care debate: the plight of Americans who suffer from pre-existing medical conditions. In other advanced countries, everyone gets essential care whatever their medical history. But in America, a bout of cancer, an inherited genetic disorder, or even, in some states, having been a victim of domestic violence can make you uninsurable, and thus make adequate health care unaffordable.

One of the great virtues of the Democratic plan is that it would finally put an end to this unacceptable case of American exceptionalism. But what’s the Republican answer? Mr. Alexander was strangely inarticulate on the matter, saying only that “House Republicans have some ideas about how my friend in Tullahoma can continue to afford insurance for his wife who has had breast cancer.” He offered no clue about what those ideas might be.

That’s from “Afflicting the Afflicted,” Paul Krugman’s NY Times column about the health care reform summit that took place yesterday. It really is bewildering that so many elected officials can simply refuse to engage one of the major issues of our time. How can their supporters not begin to wonder at this as they themselves in ever greater numbers go into medical bankruptcy, are forced to choose between basic medications for chronic illnesses, and spend days on end struggling with insurance companies over every simple claim they make? Didn’t any of the naysayers notice the increases in insurance premiums announced this week, for example, with some major plans raising premiums by as much as 35%?

Nurses: Are your patients’ lives really improving? Are they getting any easier? Don’t they deserve a sincere effort to solve their problems, rather than more posturing designed to win votes in the next election cycle?

-Jacob Molyneux, senior editor/blog editor

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2016-11-21T13:19:07+00:00 February 26th, 2010|health care policy|4 Comments
Senior editor/social media strategy, American Journal of Nursing, and editor of AJN Off the Charts.


  1. Madeleine Mysko March 2, 2010 at 11:36 am

    Jacob, thank you for linking us to the well-argued piece.

    Here’s a thought about “bleeding hearts”:
    Maybe it’s not a bad thing to be called a bleeding heart. Pundits have said the Healthcare Summit was nothing but posturing, just political theater. But the way I see it, one thing emerged clearly, right before the eyes of America: the philosophical divide that cuts the two camps clean apart. There are those who believe that healthcare (Bleeding heart that I am, I prefer the term “care of the sick”)is a right. And then there are those who believe just as passionately that healthcare is a commodity to be purchased, i.e., a privilege. The latter camp sneers and hurls the epithet “bleeding heart” at those who speak of suffering. The problem is that when the bleeding hearts try to explain their position, by telling what they know firsthand, their message doesn’t get through. Nothing can penetrate those hearts that are fortified with cold, calculating stone.

  2. ninjanurse February 26, 2010 at 6:08 pm

    I posted this
    and got condescended to on another site as a bleeding heart who doesn’t understand reality.
    In fact, we nurses see it up close and in real time every day. If we abandon the poorer half of our country, and pressure the middle class to lock into a benefits paying job or lose any chance to get care if we need it, we’ll stunt the growth of our country and working in health care will become more stressed and frustrating than it already is.

  3. Peggy February 26, 2010 at 12:23 pm

    I watched some of the proceedings yesterday and it is ever more apparent that the Republicans will do anything to thwart any reform efforts. Maybe having 4 lobbyists to every lawmaker has something to do with this? Follow the money… our system is an onion with many layers and no real transparency.

  4. Lee Tilson February 26, 2010 at 12:11 pm

    After more than 70 years and 451 Congressional hearings on healthcare reform, the opponents say we should “start over.” The opponents offer no proposals, are unwilling to offer amendments at this point, and are unwilling to begin negotiations on areas of agreement. This is bad faith, especially after 70 years and 451 hearings. Enough is Enough. 70 years and 451 hearings are enough.

    The opponents decry the use of reconciliation in which 51 Senators can make policy. They prefer the filibuster in which 41 Senators make policy. After 70 years and 451 hearings, using reconciliation in the face of threatened filibuster is appropriate. It is better that policy be made by 51 Senators than by 41 Senators.

    Lee Tilson details of 451 hearing dates can be found at

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