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Hope for Haiti—but not healthcare January 17, 2010

Posted by paulstella in Uncategorized.
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U.S. Army soldiers helped unload food and supplies at the airport in Port-au-Prince. Photo: Candice B. Villarreal/U.S. Navy, via European Pressphoto Agency

It’s hard to fathom that anything good comes in the wake of intensely tragic circumstances—particularly those as devastating as the recent earthquake in Haiti. To think that people who have already endured so much suffering over multiple generations should now be stricken with this latest episode is nearly impossible to comprehend.

But in the midst of such chaos comes great compassion. We’ve all been touched by the life-or-death struggle that continues on that tiny island nation, and many have been moved to make a contribution in support of relief efforts there. In fact, it’s estimated that Americans contributed approximately $150 million within the first four days that followed the quake.

We are a people that always seem to rise up and take action in the face of extreme challenges. I believe, like many of us do, that this is what sets Americans apart. So it’s also why I struggle to understand the precarious state of healthcare reform in this country. Why can’t our lawmakers find the courage to do what’s right for some 50 million uninsured Americans?

On Tuesday, voters in Massachusetts may indeed put a stake in the heart of the healthcare reform effort for yet another generation—if not longer. In a fascinating irony, the Senate seat previously held by Ted Kennedy, the champion of healthcare reform legislation, may soon be in the hands of an opponent to reform, thus removing the 60th vote necessary in the Senate for passage.

It’s really an unfair situation for voters there. Their sole priority should be selecting the candidate that they believe is best suited to represent Massachusetts on Capitol Hill. That may well indeed be the guy opposing the reform legislation. But I have to wonder if that’s not the source of some angst for those voters on Tuesday who believe healthcare is a right for all Americans. To be honest, I hope so, but I don’t envy their dilemma.

So, with the ongoing generosity of the American public, I’m optimist about the long-term prospects for a rebirth in Haiti. I just wish I could share the same optimism with our nation’s uninsured.

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