Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Could Copenhagen be a needed break from health care reform trash talk?

When President Barack Obama insisted he could not be present in Copenhagen on Friday to learn whether his adopted hometown gets the 2016 Summer Olympic games, the claim was always that he was so busy trying to reform the way health care is paid for that he couldn’t spare the time.

But with the absurdities to which the health care debate has sunk these days, could it be that the real reason Obama decided that he could fit a few days in Denmark into his schedule was that he needed a break from health care?

I’M SURE THE Obama loyalists will contend that he’s merely standing up for his country by going to Copenhagen to try to awe the International Olympic Committee with his presence.

But I wouldn’t blame him for a bit if he figured that being away from Washington was good for his sanity. Going to a place for a couple of days where he can focus on the idea of being able to walk from his home to the Olympic Stadium in Washington Park could offer a breather.

How ridiculous has the health care debate become?

The real scarlet “A” (for abortion, not amnesty) has crept up into the debate.

FOR IT TURNS out that the anti-abortion activists who figure that since they can’t make the termination of a pregnancy a criminal act, they will do the next best thing and make it as difficult for a woman to obtain as is possible are now turning to the health care debate.

If it turns out that purchasing plans are created to make it possible for people without insurance to actually buy an affordable health plan, the activists want to make sure that obtaining an abortion is not among the medical procedures covered.

The New York Times reports that such actions have the abortion rights crowd scared, in that they fear existing insurance plans that do cover the cost of an abortion may very well be altered to quit paying for the end of a pregnancy.

The end result is that abortion would become one of those elective medical procedures, similar to obtaining cosmetic surgery. It definitely would become something that most women would not be able to afford to do, even in cases where their physical well-being is better off by ending a pregnancy.

THOSE WHO WANT to claim the abortion supporters are somehow being paranoid, all I have to say is that I doubt it. Because the reality of most insurance policies is that they are written in ways to justify covering as little as they absolutely have to.

To an insurance company, the perfect client is the person who makes their monthly payment on time always – and never files a claim.

It is part of the reason why so many people currently do not have insurance – the old standby of pre-existing conditions. People who need health insurance to cover the cost of their treatment will have trouble getting it because the insurance companies know they will have to pay claims.

Now I know there are some people who naively feel sympathy for insurance companies, claiming that the payment of claims costs everybody money. Of course, I’d argue that the only reason to have insurance is so that it will cover the cost of treatment.

SO IN A time when insurance companies are looking for reasons to cut back on what they have to cover, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to learn that this abortion quandary could stick.

It also does not help clarify the issue in that Obama himself has tossed out some rhetoric expressing some sympathy for the anti-abortion proponents, claiming he would not want to force for payment of elective abortions. I guess he thought such rhetoric would sway some social conservatives to his side.

All it has done is gotten worked up the people who want to think that all abortion is somehow elective, and that their partisan rhetoric about sticking up for life always seems to place a premium on the life that does not yet exist over the one that is here and now and ought to get our priority.

With the health care reform issue tainted by abortion, it might be blatantly obvious that a switch to Olympics mode might be a nice change of pace.

OF COURSE, THERE he faces the nasty rhetoric from the critics of Chicago’s bid to bring the Olympics here. Those people picketed outside of City Hall on Tuesday to express their belief that city officials can’t be trusted to ensure that the games don’t go ridiculously over budget – which they say has the potential to bankrupt Chicago city government.

A part of me has always considered their rhetoric to be a bit over the top and somewhat shortsighted (there are long-term municipal benefits to be derived from hosting an Olympic games here, if they are handled properly).

But I have never doubted the sincerity of the people who have spent the past few months trashing the thought of the Olympic flame working its way around the world to – in the end – pass through Washington Park to kick off the games seven years from now.

I also have wondered how many of those people who trash-talk a Chicago Olympiad were among those who were Obama supporters in last year’s presidential elections. I would suspect many of them were.

WHICH MAKES ME wonder if they feel as betrayed by Obama’s support for a Chicago Olympiad similar to how some of those abortion rights proponents feel about Obama, wondering if his reform plan is going to put at risk the ability of a woman to obtain what basically is a medical procedure.

I guess there are times that a president just can’t make anybody happy.


EDITOR’S NOTES: Abortion has crept its way into the nasty debate over ( health care reform.

Where does Barack Obama go when he needs a break from the health care reform and Olympics ( debates?

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