Citizens of Massachusetts will head to the polls today to decide who will replace the late Ted Kennedy’s senate seat, and consequently the fate of Obama’s health care reform bill. The seat has been enmeshed in a swarm of contention, as the once easily democrat-won seat is now a close race that republican Scott Brown will win. The concern is that the 2010 Massachusetts election results can change nation's future hopes about health insurance.
The fate of the health care debate could be determined today by a series of fluke circumstances. A democrat has held Massachusetts' senate seat for years and years. This year however, disheartened citizens, and an increased fervor for the republican cause has allowed Republican Scott Brown to gain a considerable base over democratic challenger, Martha Coakley.
The late senator Ted Kennedy championed the cause of health care reform and his absence begs the question what exactly will happen should Republicans gain the seat. Traditionally, Massachusetts has been a leader in health care reform. It was the first state to implement a mandatory health insurance policy for most of its residents. The Massachusetts' election results could potentially put a kink in the Democrats’ plan. Brown has openly said that he will be the so-called “41st vote” against health care reform. This means that Obama's proposed overhaul will not be easily passed.
If Brown wins, prospects of universal health care coverage, namely the public option, will be poor. Ultimately, his vote would probably be a means of Republican maneuvering. Key issues such as taxes and abortion would likely be up for compromise or a severe revision of the reform bill, as it exists today.
The GOP will have gained more power, and thus cause the Democrats to weaken their positions. An already watered down version of the bill would become even more so. As it stands, health insurance coverage has caused thousands to go bankrupt and stifles any real innovation in the field. When people can not pay, there is more burden on society. A Republican win may mean more of the same.
To be sure, a Scott Brown win would not mean the end of health care reform. It would merely be harder to pass. The issue is a touchy one and the increasing distrust of Washington and its antics means more voters may decide for a change. Indeed, polls indicate the Massachusetts residents are in favor of health care reform, however, they simply are taken in by Martha Coakley and want something more.
The health care reform bill has been under heated discussion by Democrats. The closed session talks are in their final stages and Democrats hope to have agreement soon. The word on Friday was that they were very close to bring the discussion to an end, at least for now. The impending Massachusetts election results will no doubt, make the move for change even more urgent.
Written by Lani Shadduck
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