You know what bothers me about the health care debate? Well, lots of things bother me, but here’s a few of them.
1. Dismissing other people’s concerns
President Obama, some Congressional leaders, media and even some very forward-thinking, community-embracing writers, completely dismiss the valid concerns of those who may have less influence in this particular argument. Instead of trying to find out why there is persistent belief that “death panels” will become a reality, or that government will pay for treatment for illegal immigrants, they seem to take the position that, “Those people won’t matter when this comes to a vote, so we’ll just belittle them in public and hopefully they’ll be too embarrassed to speak out again.”
It is a reality that health care is rationed in other countries based on the length of time a person is expected to live. Why is it so hard to believe that as health care costs rise, at some point our government will also determine what type of care will be provided based on whether a person is likely to live another 5, 10 or 15 years?
And if Obama says that his new plan will not pay for health care for illegal immigrants I believe he is being disingenuous (or naïve – either way, not good for a president). Right now, if an illegal immigrant goes to an emergency room for treatment the hospital will charge the cost to Emergency Medicaid. Obama has not mentioned that, or whether that would change in the future.
Democrats cannot expect to win agreement on their plan when they continually refuse to admit that others have legitimate concerns that deserve to be fully addressed.
2. Lack of details
President Obama gave a 40+ minutes speech and still no details. The White House website has few details. The paucity of information makes people nervous. People want to know how a new plan will affect their own pocketbook, and without more details no one can figure that out. After all these months it seems someone would have information on the major points, such as whether a public option would be a part of the final plan.
3. Say what you mean
And speaking of a public option, it used to be a deal-breaker; now, not so much. The plan was supposed to be done before the August break. Then it was okay to go home first and talk to constituents about it. Now, if it takes until December, that’s okay, too. Obama seems to equivocate on other issues as well such as employer insurance mandates, and levying new taxes to pay for plan.
I understand that this outline of specific goals without details for achievement is designed to allow Obama the ability to compromise when it comes time to make a decision. All this waffling does not inspire trust in the decision-making capacity of the person who is supposed to be leading the country. Even lawmakers in Obama’s own party have asked for additional guidance. But you can’t leave the decisions on the most sensitive issues to the end of the game. That will likely cause further disruption, confusion and, yes, even more debate.
It would make more sense for each side (including Blue Dogs and Independents) to designate some representatives to sit down at a table with true, workable ideas and hash out a plan that takes into account everyone’s concerns. Then present identical bills to both the House and the Senate and work out the differences.
4. What’s the rush?
Presidents have been calling for health care reform for decades. Why do we need to get it done today? What’s so special about 2009?
Isn’t it more important to take the time to make sure it’s done right? To make sure that the solution doesn’t bankrupt the country? That everyone who wants to be included, is included? That we get better health care, not just more health care?
I think these goals are important enough to take the time to breathe deep, consider all the options, ask for more solutions to the really tough problems, and think through the consequences of potential decisions.
Whatever decisions are made – right or wrong — we are likely to be stuck with them for decades. Let’s make reasonably sure that we did everything possible to ensure that the decisions don’t cause more harm than good.
5. Where is our focus?
It seems that so many leaders in America are so busy trying to solve the problems with health care that everyone’s forgotten that there are other, perhaps more pressing, issues to be concerned with.
Has everyone forgotten that the economy is in the gutter? That people continue to lose jobs at an alarming rate? That banks are still not lending to small businesses at a time when those businesses are trying to stay afloat?
It seems that the most urgent problem, the one that is affecting people on a global scale today, has been set on the back burner to simmer as if it will get done all by itself. Getting business back on its feet and people back to work would reinvigorate a failing economy and that should be the priority for Congress.
Okay, so that last one doesn’t really have to do with health care, but I wanted to include it anyway. What about you – what do you think? Did I leave something out? Do you have a different opinion about the healthcare debate? Let’s hear it!