Health Care Reform – the True Test of Equality

Opposition to a single payer health care system has absolutely nothing to do with rational argument.  By any rational measure, a single payer system is a superior approach to organizing and financing the delivery of health care services.

Opposition comes primarily from two quarters:

  •        those who already benefit from the current system and don’t want to lose whatever benefits they think they take from the current system.
  •        Those who simply think that some people don’t deserve health insurance.

The first group is somewhat easier to deal with.  They represent interests that are, in some capacity, engaged in the system.  Because of that engagement, they can’t help but see some of the problems facing the most fundamental stakeholders, patients and providers.  In an effort to find solutions, common ground is achievable.  It may be more expensive, but it is achievable.

But there is another group that is threatened in a different way.

Right wing hysteria

Let’s take one of the more benign comments.  Jonathan Hoenig on Fox News in the process of demeaning Barack Obama’s position on health as ‘socialist”,  jabbed  “Why should I be responsible for Joe Biden’s aneurysms?” 

That comment not only reveals a failure to understand the first principle of any insurance, some people pay more than they collect and others collect more than they pay; it betrays a mean spiritedness that pervades much of the right wing punditry attacks on health care reform.  Does Mr. Hoenig object that Rush Limbaugh’s insurance plan may have paid for his abuse of controlled substances.

The right wing rails against the provision in the stimulus bill that encourage research in “comparative effectiveness”.  The most egregious example is an editorial in the Washington Times.  The Times equates research in comparative effectiveness to the euthanizing of old and sick people in Nazi Germany.  The Times even accompanies the editorial with a picture of Adolf Hitler.

They even dare to make this statement:

 The efficiency-based approach to health care reform is a betrayal of the compact between those who are most capable of work and those who are least capable of defending themselves.

What compact are they talking about?  Does the Washington Times live in America?  Do they even live in Washington DC?  Where is there concern for rationing of health care when 46 million Americans have no health insurance?  Why isn’t 46 million uninsured a “betrayal of the compact between those who are most capable of work and those who are least capable of defending themselves”

By the way, Editors of the Washington Times, those “most capable of work” are all too often not “capable of defending themselves” against employers who provide little or no health insurance.  Why isn’t that “betrayal of the compact” a cause for outrage?

Pundits from the black tower

No, the likes of Mr. Hoenig and the Washington Times and the rest of the black tower pundits simply do not want anything that encourages the notion that everyone in the United States of America is created equal. 

Forget that the Declaration of Independence says that “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Life?  Liberty?  The pursuit of happiness?  Aren’t these all related to good health?

These people turn logic on its head in order to prevent any inroads into the American psyche of the insidious notion that Americans might actually be equal in a way that really matters.

These people have never taken a call form a pensioner whose $900 per month pension just got reduced by $30 to pay for the increase in their retiree health insurance.  And don’t try to tell the pensioner that they are among the privileged few to have both a pension and retiree health insurance!

These people never had to listen to someone who need a release from his doctor to return to work but had no health insurance to pay the doctor.  They actually believe the myth that anyone who needs treatment can find it in America.

These people never had to try to explain to a father who just learned that the daughter who lives with her mother  has no health insurance and has been diagnosed with a tumor, that he can’t add the daughter until open enrollment.  And also try to explain that the IRS requires that the daughter live in his household.  And these people think “comparative effectiveness” is the beginning of an incomprehensible bureaucracy?

The discussion about meaningful health care reform will not be a rational one.  It will be fought against the irrational fears of the fear mongers bellowing from their black towers.  It will be the real test of just how equal Americans really are.

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2 Responses to Health Care Reform – the True Test of Equality

  1. Larry Nelson says:

    President Obama will probably offer some form of universal health care coverage. However, we need to fix the health care system as well.

    As a patient and a former employee (I used to work at a famous hospital on Long Island) of the health care system – I have first-hand knowledge on how
    the care system works in America. Close to 100,000 people die each year in hospitals due to medical errors.

    The hospital I worked at had too much administrative waste. There was endless paperwork in processing patient information. Many of the positions, especially in the non-medical areas were filled through nepotism. Many of the supervisors and mid-level manager at this hospital were mostly concerned about how they impressed top administrators – CYA was (and probably still is) the major activity.

    A question I would like to ask the general public, particularly doctors – How come doctors never challenge other doctors?

    Right after I graduated college I was “confused,” doing drugs, and getting into trouble; so my parents sent me to a psychiatrist. The psychiatrist said I was “mentally ill” and he sent me to neurologist for tests. (Our family doctor stated at first I did not need any tests, and then he changed his mind.) The neurologist examined my brain and said I was fine. I just needed to “grow up.”

    • jimmy1920 says:

      Well Larry, it seems that you have grown up just fine. Thanks for recognizing the connection, but also the distinction between universal coverage and health system reform. Too many people focus on one to the exclusion of the other.
      Personally, I’m with you. Universal coverage first, then we can fix the delivery system.

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