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.