Part of what makes our country great is the transparency that exists between citizens and their government. We make laws at the will of the American people; therefore it's your right to be as informed as possible about the laws that will significantly impact your life. Unfortunately, it doesn't appear that the health care reform debate will permit this level of transparency. Since the pertinent committees have passed their versions of the legislation, they must now be blended into one bill. This is where our transparent democratic process gets clouded by special interests and private deals, hidden from view from the public.
For the next step, Democrat leaders, Democrat Committee chairs, and even the White House will deliberate in closed-door policymaking sessions. It appears the bipartisan minority will not be invited to the table. The real outrage lies in the back-room deals these meetings will produce. This isn't a hypothetical. This is what's actually happening in Washington to shape health care reform.
We're already seeing it. For instance, under current proposals to pay for an expansion of Medicaid, the federal government will pass $37 billion in costs onto states already struggling to balance their budgets. Yet recently a deal was hatched for Nevada and four other states to have their entire Medicaid expansion costs paid for by the federal government. Furthermore, current proposals also levy a tax on high-value insurance plans--except in New York and a few other states where similar insurance plans are exempted from taxation. Why is it okay for Nevadans and New Yorkers to benefit from carve-outs while those in Nebraska and elsewhere foot the bill? Unfortunately, some promote true reform when the cameras are on, but cut special interest deals once the doors are shut.
The fate of health care reform now lies in the hands of a few members of Congress, with little accountability or transparency. These deals will be occurring at a time when our budget deficit is soaring to a record $1.4 trillion for 2009--that's triple the amount of money we borrowed in 2008. It's an injustice that this deficit could increase further because of decisions made behind closed doors. After all, this is indeed a government, as so movingly put by Abraham Lincoln, "of the people, by the people, for the people."
The bottom line is this: closed-door deal-making undermines our democratic form of government and manipulates the budget process to hide the true costs. It is a disservice to the American people. I imagine the product that emerges from that room will be loaded with special carve-outs at the expense of taxpayers. I support reform that increases access to insurance, brings down premiums, and provides care for pre-existing conditions. I support subsidies for those who truly cannot afford insurance to help them buy down premiums, deductibles, and co-payments. I support real malpractice reform that would curb costs by reducing defensive medicine. But I do not support "reform" that results from back-room deals and broken promises.