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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

There is No Health Care Debate

The harder President Obama pushes for health care reform the more hysterical its advocates and proponents become. In this "debate" not a single individual or political entity has impressed me. The Democrats and Republicans are doing what they do best--being politicians with an extreme bias. Semantics, power plays, harsh sounds bites are all the norm. Nuanced debate is absent. Reason is replaced by inflexible and rigid unchanging views. Into this void is Obama who appears with every passing day to be the master at political compromise. This is bitterly disappointing to me but anything and anyone is better than former President Bush and his Republican administration. This thought came to me when I read Sarah Palin's Facebook commentary about health care. She wrote:

"The Democrats promise that a government health care system will reduce the cost of health care, but as the economist Thomas Sowell has pointed out, government health care will not reduce the cost; it will simply refuse to pay the cost. And who will suffer the most when they ration care? The sick, the elderly, and the disabled, of course. The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s “death panel” so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their “level of productivity in society,” whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil."

Pailn's rhetoric, right or wrong, is counter productive. I have chosen this quote because of the use of the word evil. It reminded me of Bush, the abuse of religion on the part of politicians, and the utter lack of the ability to enter into a reasonable discussion about health care reform. To be fair, I need not rely on Palin's words. Nancy Pelosi, on the other side of the debate, is equally inflexible and hysterical. Both those for and against health care reform raise good points. For instance, I agree with Palin that people who are elderly or disabled are likely to to suffer if health care reform is passed as it currently is proposed. This doe s not make the proposal, HR 3200, "evil", rather inherently flawed. Instead of using such inflammatory wording Palin could have stated that funding for people like her son in the form of group homes is grossly under inadequate. She could have noted that group homes still encounter stiff resistance when they open and question why is this the case. This in turn could have led her to discuss the history of discrimination people with cognitive disabilities have experienced thus emphasizing the need to fund group homes and community based living for people with disabilities and the elderly.

I do not see a debate taking place about health care reform among the general population as well. I was away last weekend and attended a great party. Surrounded by conservatives who oppose Obama I was taken aback by the vigor with which they opposed health care reform. Obama was characterized as being a "communist", one who wanted to destroy capitalism, and that providing "free health care to people who did not have a real job would kill the economy". When I asked what should be people who are ill or elderly do if they have no health insurance they had no reply. I asked what do they suggest paralyzed people do when a wheelchair breaks and the replacement cost is $5,000 and not covered by insurance. I also asked did it make any economic sense that medications are so expensive it leads many to go bankrupt. Again, they had no ready answer. I asked these questions not to undermine their thoughts, well maybe I did, but to get them to think in a more nuanced way. Health care reform is in my estimation needed, especially for people who face staggering medical bills and cannot afford insurance. This fact is acknowledged but again extreme views and examples are used to illustrate this point. Thus I lay blame with not only politicians who rely on rhetoric and sound bites but the media that thrives on such clips. Whipping people into a frenzy is all too easy. Debate, reasonable discussions among those that disagree but are respectful to the opposition does not exactly make must see television. Think CSPAN and a long detailed discussion of the minutiae of the 1,017 page health care reform bill. Such viewing may not be entertaining but it sure is important. I simply wish we had much more of this.


FridaWrites said...

You're very right, and I have trouble talking with both conservatives and liberals about health care. Whether we're in something similar to the status quo or whether we have health care reform that insures more people, disabled people and people with high medical needs will suffer. We will have to continue to advocate for our rights.

Rachel said...

A question:

What percentage of those who are against providing health care for all have ever been without heath care and needed it?

I suspect those against a universal system have lived a privilaged life, have never been without health care when they needed it.

william Peace said...

Rachel, Wow, I love your question! It also makes me think that I am living a bifurcated life. For the first twenty five years of my life I had great health insurance thanks to my parents. I never thought about the cost of health care. The second part of my life has been dominated if not dictated by the cost of health care because my insurance coverage is grossly inadequate (hospitalization only).