I’ve been waiting for months for the right time to post this video. Waiting until the absolute moment of greatest need. Today, our favorite blogger, Washington Post’s Ezra Klein, broke it out and forced our hand, probably not even knowing its significance. So here it goes.
(He did add the important fact that John “Bluto” Blutarsky was later elected to the United States Senate.)
With the election of Scott Brown, the immediate reaction was to proclaim the end of health reform. But those of us who have gone through this before know it’s not over. Even tonight, Barney Frank took back his rash initial statement that all was lost (see this, too).
Senator-elect Brown has voted in favor of health reform, and comes from the state whose system is the foundation for much of the substance of the national bills. He knows and has seen first hand what a difference it makes when people have access to life-saving health care services.
House and Senate leaders, along with the White House, today began discussing how to get something done in the new environment. The video above can do the trick. How do we know? Because it happened before. Massachusetts health reform passed the House and Senate in November, 2005. An impasse between the House and Senate over the employer assessment stalemated the branches for months on end. Until:
Businessman Jack Connors Jr., co-founder of the advertising giant Hill Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos, Inc., and a broker of early discussions between key interest groups recalls heading off for a golfing weekend in Florida in February 2006 confident of the reform bill’s passage only to return to a Boston Sunday Globe headline: “Hopes Fade on Reforms in Healthcare.”
Connors immediately grasped the depth of the business coalition’s tactical blunder, and hoped humor would defuse the Speaker’s ire. He called [Speaker] DiMasi’s office to ask for 15 minutes, and before heading over to the State House, ordered up a film clip from the Hill Holliday archives. It was the scene from the classic 1978 comedy about campus fraternity life, “Animal House,” in which Bluto Blutarsky exhorts his dejected Delta House frat brothers to rally in defiance of the menacing Dean Wormer. Arriving at DiMasi’s office, Connors popped the videotape into the Speaker’s VCR player, stopping it at Bluto’s famous declaration: “What, over? You say over? Nothing is over till we decide it is over!”
And then Connors gave his version: “With all due respect Mr. Speaker, it’s not over till I say it’s over.” DiMasi and Connors shared a laugh, and by the end of the meeting they’d agreed to work together towards a per-worker assessment of $300. Connors kept his part of the bargain, meeting over the next few weeks with business leaders, insurers, health industry executives and Senate Pres. Travaglini to sell the compromise. The deal was cemented at a Sunday night meeting with business leaders in DiMasi’s office and, a month later, the reform bill became law….
(excerpted from Forging Consensus: The Path to Health Reform in Massachusetts, from the MA BCBS Foundation; see also this March 2006 Globe column.
Every day, we see the impact the Massachusetts reforms have had on the health and security of formerly uninsured residents (see examples here). The moral imperative to extend good, affordable health coverage to all Americans wasn’t going to be met in a single bill, at a single time. We know that strong majorities in the House, Senate and the public support expanding coverage, reducing costs and improving quality of care.
We fully agree with the statement of our partners at Community Catalyst: “”Now is the time for Americans across the country to keep telling our Members of Congress that we need quality, affordable health care.” As Bluto and the Delta Tau Chi brothers cry out at the end of the scene, let’s do it.