(NOTE: This was originally posted to my blog on November 15, 2013)
Yes, the populace and politicos – especially those in the Red states – are in a frenzy over ObamaCare yet again. The progressive black guy in the White House has stubbed his toe, just what they’ve been waiting for.
To me, while there is some culpability on the part of the White House, most of the frenzy is pure BS.
First of all, let’s get the culpability out of the way. Yes, the authorities never should have picked that firm in Canada to build the website. They should’ve relied upon good old American entrepreneurialism and have Amazon or eBay or Microsoft do it. (However, if any of you have ever bid on a government contract you can understand why this didn’t happen. There are tremendously strict guidelines and price is usually the driving factor. In this case, better to pay 20% more and have 80% less problems. Government contracting is a mess and ought to be fixed).
FYI: I was on the Connecticut site several weeks ago and it worked just fine (remember, if it wasn’t for Republican governors not wanting to play nice – and also turning down billions of Medicaid funds, an outright affront to the people of their states – there would have been less stress on the federal site, but that’s not an excuse, just a fact).
Secondly, the President should have been more specific in how he handled explaining the famous/infamous “if you like your current health plan, you can keep it.” Period. Exclamation point. ‘Nuf Said.
Okay, let’s get to the meat of it.
First of all, in watching the movie Lincoln I was tremendously impressed by how brave President Lincoln was in standing up for the abolition of slavery. It was an unpopular issue, congress was polarized and a lot of wheeling and dealing was necessary to get it done (sound familiar?). Lincoln did something which took guts – he actually lead the country out of slavery, doing what in his opinion was in the best interest of the United States, despite its unpopularity. He suffered mightily for it, but eventually prevailed. In terms of the long term effects of his efforts and leadership, the historical record speaks for itself. (We have to remember, it takes guts to truly lead and sometimes leadership means ignoring the polls).
Just like the abolition of slavery addressed a gross inequality in America, so does ObamaCare. We live in an economy today where if a member of a middle class family gets cancer, they may not be able to get insurance due to a pre-existing condition and the family may have to declare bankruptcy to pay for therapy. Unfortunately, we’ve made healthcare a zero-sum game between the middle class and poor vs. the insurances companies and Wall St.
What do you say to that family, Ted Cruz, Ron Paul, Mitch McConnell? How about you, John Boehner (supposedly a practicing Catholic; didn’t Jesus Christ fight for the poor and against the inequality of income during his time)? Can you really equate the value of a human life in dollars and cents? (again, sound familiar?)
Should healthcare insurance truly be a “for profit” enterprise? Remember, every dime an insurance company saves in claims drops to the bottom line and increases the bonus pool and stock options of the senior execs.
So we have a choice: either we can give that person with a pre-existing condition the treatment he/she deserves or, by denying coverage, we can give the CEO of Mega Health Insurance Company a third vacation home.
Is this the type of country we want to live in? Really, now. It offends every possible sense of humanity and justice.
The right answer, of course, would be a single payer system. But for some reason that’s considered “socialism.” Well, my father and uncle went to college on the GI bill, my parents lived on Social Security and a government pension during their retirement, and Medicare paid for major hospitalization charges for my parents and aunts and uncles as they were dying. If that’s socialism, sign me up.
I remember talking to a doctor friend of mine who went to medical school in Italy. I asked him how much tuition was. He told me about $1000 a year. Is it just me or is it sort of weird that a foreign country will subsidize an American citizen’s medical education, but America won’t? What if we subsidized the full tuition for every American citizen who got into an American med school? You know what? Doctors would graduate without $500K+ in student loans and wouldn’t have to earn hundreds of thousands of dollars to service their debt. Combine that with a single payer system and now you’re talking.
Capitalism can do a lot of good things, but it’s not a universal solution for all the world’s problems. We should never put ourselves in a position where we’re valuing a human life in pure dollars and cents. That type of thinking was not what made this country great and if we allow it to persist, someday it may take this country down.