Thursday, May 14, 2015

An Opportunity To Replace Dan Lipinski With A Real Democrat


There are few Democratic incumbents more in need of a primary than Chicago Blue Dog Dan Lipinski. This session, when it came to crucial roll calls, Lipinski has voted more frequently with Boehner and the GOP than with progressives. His ProgressivePunch crucial vote score is an abysmal 41.94-- among the 10 worst Democrats in Congress. And, as we discovered this week, he finally does have an opponent: Oren Jacobson, the son of a teacher and a self-employed immigrant. 

Oren is a progressive tech entrepreneur with over a decade of leadership experience in the private sector. Over the course of his career, he has successfully fought to defend struggling small businesses and preserve jobs. He helped to expand economic opportunity in the throes of one of the toughest economic climates America has seen in nearly a century, experience that has prepared him to make the tough decisions on the most important issues of our time. It has ignited a passion for strengthening communities through inclusive, growth-oriented policies and substantial civic engagement. 

Oren’s experiences have taught him a simple truth: Most people are decent, hard-working folks who simply want to provide a better life for their kids. He is considering this race to fight every day to help those people reach that decent and noble goal. Blue America has endorsed him this week, and we asked him to tell us what he will do when he gets into Congress to make the Affordable Care Act, which Lipinski joined the GOP to oppose, more effective.

What's Wrong With The ACA?
by Oren Jacobson

Congressman Dan Lipinski voted against the Affordable Care Act in 2009 because he was more concerned with restricting a woman’s access to healthcare than expanding it for millions of Americans.

Blue Dog Lipinski
Many Americans hold strong stances on the issue of abortion. While I’m strongly in favor of a woman's right to choose I respect that others see it very differently. Diversity of thought is part of our beauty and power. But, how can one claim to be pro-life when they are at the same time preventing millions from receiving the basic health care they need to survive? How can one be pro-life when they vote against a bill the helps millions of seniors by expanding coverage and closing the donut hole in Medicare Part D that is now helping seniors save billions of dollars? If all lives matter than voting against a bill that will help millions of the poor, children, and our seniors is just unconscionable.

The ACA is far from a perfect bill. In many ways it is more of patients bill of rights and protections than a real reform of the system. Despite the GOP’s best efforts to paint this as a socialist takeover of health care, that couldn’t be further from the truth. The changes in the ACA exist completely within the existing system and provide huge benefits to big business. Don’t believe me? Check out the stock prices of healthcare and pharmaceutical companies since the law passed.

If I was in Congress in 2009 I would have voted for the ACA. It isn’t perfect. It isn’t the bill I would have wanted. It is, however, progress. As a progressive I believe in fighting for the ideal. As a pragmatic progressive I realize not taking a step forward is the same as taking a step back.

The question is what do we do now? It’s too soon to tell if the dip in health care inflation is directly attributable to the ACA. That being said we still have a health care system that costs twice as much for the same life expectancy of any other industrialized country, per capita. Why? Two reasons. First, the law, and our system in general, prioritizes business interests over national interests. President Obama had to make big concessions to industry lobbyists in exchange for their support. Second, it fails to really deal with the core driver of costs. Prevention and cure.

When was the last time you were in the emergency room? Have you looked at the bill lately? That tylenol you were given that cost pennies per pill to make gets billed at $10. That x-ray that costs the county $15 to take gets billed at $1,000. This is true at public, private, and nonprofit hospitals alike. Healthcare is big business. This isn’t an attack on business. Quite the contrary. As a private sector leader who has worked at all levels of industry I know first hand the critical role businesses, even larger ones, play in the community. And I respect that a profit for goods exchanged fuels benefits for all. But there is a difference between a fair and reasonable profit, or in the case of an exceptional product a premium price model, and simply price gouging. We’re being gouged and our deficit and debt show it. We hear people on the right decry taxes, and espouse the free market, but whether you pay for it in taxes, or pay for it out of pocket through other direct consumption, our hard earned money is paying for it.

While preventative care is more readily available through the ACA we have dramatically cut back on our investment into finding cures for diseases that both kill us and drain our resources. Investment into scientific research is the key to our long term health care costs. What was the last major disease we cured in this country? Polio! Most of us weren’t alive when that happened. Do we really not believe that we can cure so many of the diseases we face today if we are committed to it as a country? Apparently Congress doesn’t think we have enough money to do so or is too shortsighted to see how the investment will decrease long term budgetary issues.

This year our government will spend about $300 billion dollars treating diabetes and health issues directly related to diabetes. Want to fix health care? Want to drive down costs? Imagine if we could cure this one single disease. If you add in Parkinson's and Alzheimer's you reach a total of nearly $800 billion per year. Did you know the percentage rate of people who die from cancer today is about the same as it was in 1950 and that the rate of breast cancer is actually occurring? It might seem like we couldn’t possibly solve these problems and find these cures. Then again 100 years ago who would have thought we would walk on the moon or put a rover on Mars? Surely, we can do this. A cure to one of these diseases would also cure our budgetary issues. The only question is whether we have the courage to invest substantially into this effort?
Yesterday, Lipinksi was one of only 4 Democrats to cross the aisle and vote with the Republicans to further weaken the rights women have in matters of Choice. If you'd like to see Oren replace Lipinski in Congress, you can help his campaign here.

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At 7:08 PM, Blogger Ed Crotty said...

Lipinski is the worst.


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