By Patrick Watson
Maybe you, dear reader, can help me. I am trying to figure out why people are so upset about the proposed health care reforms. I see the angry mobs on TV shouting and screaming at congresspeople, Senators and cabinet members. Obviously there is a lot of passion about this issue.
The primary claims revolve around government wanting to take control of health care. Democrats say this is not what the plan does. In any case, the government already controls health care. Have you noticed how many of the people protesting “socialized medicine” are obviously over age 65? They have socialized medicine now. It’s called Medicare.
Depending whose figures you believe, anywhere from 30-60% of all health care spending comes from government through Medicare, Medicaid, military hospitals, Veteran’s hospitals, benefit plans for government workers, and so forth. Moreover, we have a legal structure in place that enforces many requirements for doctors, dentists, nurses, hospitals, drugs, devices, pharmacies, wheelchairs, insurance, and all the other apparatus that comprises the health care system. If your goal is to keep the government out of health care, I’m sorry but that cow got out of the barn a long time ago.
I saw one clip on TV of a man shouting “There is nothing in the Constitution about anyone having a right to taxpayer-provided health care!” I presume, then, that he would like to eliminate Medicare for all people over 65 since it is so unconstitutional. I’d like to see him tell that to the gray-haired crowd. He might not get out alive.
Another complaint is that health care will be “rationed” under the new proposal. Again, health care is being rationed already. Health insurance companies specialize in rationing. It’s what they do. If you have employer or individual health insurance and haven’t experienced rationing yet, it is probably because you haven’t been sick enough. Count yourself lucky.
Others are concerned that the plan requires physicians to consult with patients about end-of-life care, presumably well in advance of their demise. Is this not something that intelligent people are doing anyway? In fact, every time I’ve been to a hospital they always ask if the patient has a living will or other arrangements and make you sign a form about it. It’s been that way as long as I can remember.
Yet another argument is that the plan is being rammed through Congress too fast. This is just silly. If it were being rammed through – like, say, the $700 billion bank bailout last year – the town hall meetings w0uld not be happening. They are happening, and our elected representatives seem to have a pretty good idea what we think.
Speaking of elections, we had one last year in which health care was a major issue. Candidates talked until we were all sick of hearing it. One side of that argument somehow managed to get more people behind it on Election Day than the other. Now that side (which I didn’t vote for, by the way) gets to make a decision what to do. Is this not how our democracy is supposed to work?
So again: why all the anger? My conclusion is that people are afraid of losing what they have, whether it’s Medicare, private insurance, or something else. The problem is that they’re losing it anyway. Current health care cost trends are unsustainable. Something has to give, but if no one is willing to sacrifice anything then the situation will only get worse.
So here’s my idea: Everyone on all sides, calm down. Try to think rationally about all this. As hard as it may be, open your mind to what folks on the other side of the picket line are saying. They’re probably as sincere as you are.