Nancy Pelosi, and History

We may be at a turning point in American History, and Nancy Pelosi might just end up becoming a key element of it. Healthcare reform is truly epic legislation.

The house, as it has been pointed out here - may in fact be a bastion of functional government. It has been characterized as more volatile than the senate - but it also seems to be able to operate more independently of the special interest groups.

Nancy Pelosi is responsible for handing out chairmanships, and assignments. Healthcare reform will be accomplished, in the final run - by a game in which key members of the house will be selected to go up against key members of the senate (selected by Harry Reid).  This is my understanding, I might be wrong - that the bill will then be played as if it were a game of "ping pong"  - back and forth between chambers until it is done.

The key element of the Bill that Nancy Pelosi has publicly backed is the provision which most directly affects the American public. And in this election year,  that element is the National Health Service.

She refers to it in press conferences as "The Public's Option" - and others have identified this as a vital element of the bill being finalized now. And she has publicly stated she will strongly support a national health service.

What America will remember of 2010 , in terms of legislation - will be this healthcare reform package and right now - Nancy Pelosi is deciding who will play the side of the ping pong table for the House of Representatives - a chamber which has decidedly stronger , and more reform-minded legislative agendas.  As the first new decade of the 21st century dawns, the power of open source government - and the internet - brings to bear huge re-election possibilities for her constituent members. They will be remembered by how firm they stood for the vast numbers of the actual voting public - 72% of which support the reform. 

She drained the swamp of the Bush Administration in her first 100 days, and now she is at the helm of reforms that will either steer towards the American people - or radically and unreasonably veer  into the familiar waters of nuanced positions that work to serve the groups of people that want her to believe elections can be bought instead of blogged.

A turning point in American history? 

Britain Defends Its National Health Service

As the US health care debate drags on, both the Canadian and British single payer systems have come under attack from the unhinged right wing on both sides of the pond. Whole Foods CEO and wingnut du jour John Mackey took a swing at it in his recent op-ed in the Wall Street Journal. While MEP (Member of the European Parliament) Daniel Hannan, who blogs for the ultra-right wing Telegraph, called the HNS a "sixty year mistake" and described the NHS as a relic he "wouldn't wish on anybody" - during a debate on US healthcare reforms on American television.

Here's the UK Guardian debunking some of the nonsense that the Thatcherite-Reaganite right is pushing:

The claim

Ted Kennedy, 77, would not be treated for his brain tumour if he was in Britain because he is too old - Charles Grassley, Republican senator from Iowa.

The response

Untrue, says the Department of Health. "There is no ban on anyone of any age receiving any treatment, " said a spokesman. "Whether to prescribe drugs or recommend surgery is rightly a clinical decision taken on a case by case basis."

The claim

Government health officials in England have decided that $22,750 (£14,000) is what six months' life is worth. Under their socialised system, if a medical treatment costs more, you're out of luck - Club for Growth

The response

The National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) decides whether new drugs represent value for money for the NHS in England and Wales. It replied: "This is a gross misrepresentation of how Nice applies health economics to try and address the central issue: how to allocate healthcare rationally within the context of limited healthcare resources. Nice assesses the cost of a treatment in terms of a cost-utility analysis which takes account of the quality adjusted life year - the amount and quality of extended life it is hoped the patient will gain. The current ceiling is £30,000 but exceptions are made."

The claim

In England, anyone over 59 years of age cannot receive heart repairs, stents or bypass because it is not covered as being too expensive and not needed - an anonymously authored, but widely circulated, in an email largely sent to older voters.

The response

Totally untrue. Growing numbers of patients over 65 with heart conditions are having surgery, including valve repairs and heart bypass surgery, says Professor Peter Weissberg, the British Heart Foundation's (BHF) medical director. For example, the average age at which people have a bypass operation has risen from 58 in 1991 to 66 in 2008.

There are more rebuttals at the Guardian website.

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