Death Cab for Cutie, Exene Cervenka, Todd Snider, 23 More Musicians Respond to Health Care Reform Bill

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Last Sunday, after more than a year of superheated debate, the House of Representatives voted in favor of reconciling the House and Senate versions of H.R. 3962—known in various circles as “the healthcare reform bill,” “Obamacare,” and “a magnet for Rahm Emanuel’s brass knuckles.” And it ain’t over yet: Even as the dust settles and the bipartisan bluster recedes to a dull roar, there’s another battle brewing as the legislature prepares to dig through the bill to make piecemeal additions and subtractions. In the meantime, we took this opportunity to hit up some of our favorite musicians and sample their opinions on the state of the bill itself, the U.S. healthcare system and what else needs to be done:

Todd Snider:
“I think the health care bill is a good start. Now I’d like to see our soldiers come home, our schools taken seriously, our banks regulated and our Glenn Beck catapulted for laughs. Is this too much to ask? I think not.”

Andy Ross of OK Go:
“Frankly, the health-care debate of the last year almost completely destroyed my faith that people and the government of the United States could still tackle big challenges. The misleading Republicans, cowardly Democrats, sensationalist media and ignorant populace combined in a perfect storm of frustration and anger. While the bill that has passed is disappointing (losing the public option hurts), it is a step in the right direction. Perhaps it will empower Democrats to fight for the next round of real reform in health care (and beyond). Most importantly, Sunday’s vote will save peoples lives. Our system of government is still hopelessly broken, but this bill’s passage ensures I’m not giving up on it just yet.”

Owen Pallett, formerly known as Final Fantasy:
“Go team go! Take care of your brother. We are rooting for you.”

Kimya Dawson:
“When I got my first check from Juno, I paid for health insurance for me and my daughter. I hadn’t been able to afford regular coverage in almost 15 years. Washington State Assistance had paid for my mental healthcare, my drug/alcohol rehabilitation, my pregnancy and my daughter’s birth. I was one of the lucky ones who was eligible for assistance during a difficult time. There was a one-month lapse between the expiration of my medical coupons and when I could afford to pay for a policy. During that time, I took my daughter to the emergency room in the middle of the night for a high fever. They gave her a spinal tap, a chest x-ray, and put her on IV antibiotics. They never came up with a diagnosis, but held her even after her fever had gone down. This four-day visit cost us $20,000+. Luckily, I was able to pay it off soon afterward, but these kinds of expenses can devastate families. My parents are seniors and can’t afford their necessary prescriptions. It is unacceptable that people suffer and die because of the cost of healthcare. Everyone should be taken care of. Victims of rape, people who are already sick or injured, transgendered people…EVERYONE. This bill is not perfect, but it is a very important start. VERY IMPORTANT.”

“Health care is humanity’s way of collective parenting. If the concept of ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ is applied to it, it becomes unthinkable to abandon an entire generation to orphanhood.”

Craig Wedren:
“It’s incredible to me that a sensible, non-partisan issue like basic health-care coverage should be such a governmental mastodon, and be SO difficult to move forward. Having said that, given the predictable (and nation-crippling) sports-team mentality of politics (Us vs Them!), the bureaucratic bloat in Government, and folks’ mass-hysterical fear of change, I am AMAZED that anything passed at all. It’s heartening that an issue with constructive intentions (healthcare, as opposed to something like, say, war) can live to see the light of day in 21st Century, too-big America. I say all of this not as a cynic, but as a citizen and an artist who believes that individuals of every stripe can easily make the weird experiment that is the U.S.A. work better and better for more and more people. Here’s hoping this is a small step in that direction.

Fingers (and eyes) crossed,
Craig Wedren of Shudder to Think”

Nellie McKay:
“Well, it’s something. We need a public option. We don’t need mandatory payments to some of the worst corporations on Earth. The President’s support of abortion restrictions is deceptively benign; Obama, why is it always poor women who pay the price? Reform represents a hard-won step in the right direction. But to quote Dave Chappelle, ‘Where would a black man be without his paranoia?’ We are right to be paranoid when something like health care is in the hands of people who are only motivated by profit.”

Elijah Jones of The Constellations:
“When I first got diabetes, I had no insurance and couldn’t afford the medication I needed to stay healthy. I resorted to using my needles over and over again and testing my blood sugar once a day instead of the four times my doctor recomended. Now that I’m a full-time musician, I find myself in the same spot only now when I applied for personal insurance I was told over and over that companies won’t cover me or I have to pay crazy amounts of money for basic covarage because of my condition. The richest country in the world where I’ve payed taxes all my life can’t even give me the one right I need the most: the right to live. This bill that has passed may be flawed, but I feel it’s a step in the right direction. If we really are a free country, we should, at the very least, adopt a health-care system that isn’t based on the bottom line. I’ll settle for being able to go to the doctor and get well without having to go bankrupt.”

Exene Cervenka of X:
“The health care bill is just another in a long line of political disappointments. People in the U.S. are sick, suffering and dying, and the government hands out our money to the insurance companies instead of helping us. Of course, everyone in congress has health care, so maybe they don’t understand. Or maybe they are just selfish, sadistic and corrupt.”

Joseph Arthur:
“I feel sorry for people that need healthcare now, but it’s a start of the moral recovery of our country. At least a step in that direction. This issue seems to separate the loons from the nearly sane. Maybe it will kick off the revolution and maybe the revolution will be televised after all.”

Beth Tacular of Bowerbirds:
“I think that’s good they’re spreading it. I personally would rather there would be socialized health care like in France where you pay your taxes and they could tax things that are really bad for you, like cigarettes and alcohol and junk food, and then that’s how they could make money to pay for health care. I think that would be a better way to do it, to have it all socialized so you’re not paying some random company that’s making a big profit; your government would do it without making a profit. But this is a positive step. I’ve been afraid. I don’t have health insurance, so I’ve been afraid to go to the doctor, because if they find out I have cancer I won’t be able to get health insurance. So I’ve been waiting to go to the doctor until I can afford good health insurance.”

Ben Knox Miller of The Low Anthem:
“I’ve been following this debate with unhealthy obsession. It’s a common-sense bill that protects basic human dignities. I am incensed with the scared republican obstructionists that have been fomenting idiocy rather than participating in building this landmark legislation. Shame on the media for lending credibility to their pathetic antics. Thankfully, they are on the wrong side of history. Kudos to Obama and Pelosi for sticking there necks out.”

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