Friday, August 21, 2009

Health Care Reform - How Bad Do We Want It?

Many of my friends who live outside of the United States simply can't understand why it is so hard for our government to come up with a plan to provide quality health care for all of its citizens. They ask why there is so much resistance to something that would certainly benefit all Americans, I have tell them it's because we don't really want it.

It's easy to lay the blame for the lack of progress on providing universal health care at the feet of greedy insurance companies; a poor economy; bad-timing, whacked out neocons; racists who just want the first Black President to fail; or a combination of all of the above. But in my opinion, health care reform, or the lack thereof, comes down to the simple fact that it is not yet a priority for most Americans.

It's very popular to quote Abraham Lincoln these days so I'll share this one: "Determine that a thing can and shall be done, and then we shall find the way."

Or as Tim McGraw might say, "How Bad Do You Want It?"

As a nation we have yet to determine that quality health care for all shall be done. We want it, but not that bad. After all, most Americans have some form of coverage, don't they? We certainly can't cut the budgets for defense spending, space exploration, farm subsidies and building new prisons. Lord knows that no one wants to stop building new sports stadiums. Do we? And please don't mention the money spent on political campaigns and lobbying.

So the debate on health care reform gets clouded with misinformation, lies, racist comments, half-hearted efforts and fear-mongering, all in order to hide the ugly truth. We, as a nation, lack the will to make it happen.

Insurance corporations don't want to give up profits. Executives don't want to give up bonuses. Stock holders don't want to give up dividends. Politicians don't want to lose votes or campaign dollars. Bureaucrats don't want their budgets slashed. And NO ONE wants to pay more taxes.

Of course, I'm sure that Congress will eventually pass some form of health care reform in order to allow us all to pretend that America has taken one small step in the right direction. But to use a football analogy, driving 80 yards down the field means very little if you falter in the red zone and have to settle for a field goal.

I don't have much confidence that Washington.will pass real health care reform I hope that they will prove me wrong. I'll be happy to eat a little crow. For now I don't think that they know how to sell it and I don't think that they're willing to take the political risk to try. .
And I'm not alone.

In her article, "Health Care Reform Needs An Action Hero", Amy Goodman writes:
"Imagine the scene. America 2009. Eighteen thousand people have died in one year, an average of almost 50 a day. Who’s taking them out? What’s killing them?

To investigate, President Barack Obama might be tempted to call on Jack Bauer, the fictional rogue intelligence agent from the hit TV series “24,” who invariably employs torture and a host of other illegal tactics to help the president fight terrorism. But terrorism is not the culprit here:

It’s lack of adequate health care. So maybe the president’s solution isn’t Jack Bauer, but rather the actor who plays him.

The star of “24” is played by Kiefer Sutherland, whose family has very deep connections to health care reform—in Canada. Sutherland is the grandson of the late Tommy Douglas, the pioneering Canadian politician who is credited with creating the modern Canadian health care system."
Noted columnist Eugene Robinson points out that you don't have to be a "nut job" to have serious questions about the proposed health care bill. In his article, "A Reason for all the Health Care Rage", he writes:

"We know that there are crazies in the town hall mobs—paranoid fantasists who imagine they hear the whop-whop-whop of the World Government black helicopters coming closer by the minute. We know that much of the action is being directed from the wings by cynical political operatives, following a script written by Washington lobbyists. But the nut jobs and carpetbaggers are outnumbered by confused and concerned Americans who seem genuinely convinced they’re not being told the whole truth about health care reform.

And they have a point."

In the following video clip, respected professor George Lakoff points out what a pitiful job the Democrats are doing at trying to frame the health care reform debate.

And finally, Paul Krugman explains that many progressives are just as upset with the current health care debate as conservatives. In his op-ed, "Obama's Trust Problem", Krugman writes:
"On the issue of health care itself, the inspiring figure progressives thought they had elected comes across, far too often, as a dry technocrat who talks of “bending the curve” but has only recently begun to make the moral case for reform. Mr. Obama’s explanations of his plan have gotten clearer, but he still seems unable to settle on a simple, pithy formula; his speeches and op-eds still read as if they were written by a committee.

Meanwhile, on such fraught questions as torture and indefinite detention, the president has dismayed progressives with his reluctance to challenge or change Bush administration policy.

And then there’s the matter of the banks.

I don’t know if administration officials realize just how much damage they’ve done themselves with their kid-gloves treatment of the financial industry, just how badly the spectacle of government supported institutions paying giant bonuses is playing. But I’ve had many conversations with people who voted for Mr. Obama, yet dismiss the stimulus as a total waste of money. When I press them, it turns out that they’re really angry about the bailouts rather than the stimulus — but that’s a distinction lost on most voters.

So there’s a growing sense among progressives that they have, as my colleague Frank Rich suggests, been punked. And that’s why the mixed signals on the public option created such an uproar."

So if you're not a "nut job", a racist, an obstructionist, or a GOP operative and you still have questions about the proposed health care reform, you're in good company.

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