OUR OPINION: Here’s to health

Staff Writer
Gonzales Weekly Citizen

Narrow passage by the House of a watermark health care bill expected to reign in excesses in the insurance industry, while providing health care for millions of Americans now without it, has some people gritting their teeth, and others breathing a sigh of thanks.

In the end, abortion opponents from both parties fought for and won restrictions on the ability of individuals to buy coverage for abortions in insurance policies. This took the hot button public funding for abortions topic out of the way, and many conservative Democrats and one Republican jumped on board the health care bill bandwagon, passing the nation's biggest piece of social legislation since Medicare more than a quarter century ago and Social Security in the Great Depression era.

Louisiana impacted the final vote in ways that only this Quixotic state can do: Rep. Ahn “Joseph” Cao of New Orleans was the only Republican to vote for the bill, while across the aisle, socially liberal and fiscally conservative Blue Dog Rep. Charles “Charlie Boy” Melancon voted against the socially progressive legislation.

Cao, a Republican in a Democratic district, voted in step with the majority of his constituents who supported the bill. By breaking ranks with his party and voting with the Democrats in his district, Cao, if nothing else, established himself as an elected official who can make a decision based what he believes is right, something many Americans find far too rare in America today.

Melancon's also bucked party ranks, but his vote seems calculated to win votes in a coming election. With the abortion issue off the table, he was expected to vote like a socially liberal Blue Dog and support the health care bill. Voting nay like his ultra-conservative opponent in an upcoming race for a U.S. Senate seat, David Vitter, will be seen by many voters as a calculated attempt to win votes, rather than an elected official choosing the stance he believes is right.

At any rate, the bill now goes to the Senate where debate will further reshape the proposed legislation.

Like all Americans, we anxiously await the Senate weigh-in on this momentous legislation that will affect everyone in the nation.