Friday, September 11, 2009

Change Is Scary - Part 4

I think Health Care Reform deserves a serious discussion, not soundbites, scare tactics, lies, and ignorance. This is the fourth - and last - of my August Recess posts about health care reform. Wahoo!

What Does "Reform" Really Mean?

For the last few months, whenever I hear someone talk about "Obamacare" and how Obama wants to socialize medicine, etc., I just shake my head in wonder. (The sad kind of wonder, not the lovely kind.)

One of the biggest differences between Obama and Clinton in the primary campaign was healthcare. Clinton's plan would have mandated health insurance for everyone. The plan Obama campaigned on did not. He wanted - and still wants - insurance to be available and affordable for everyone, not legally required for everyone. Socialized medicine is not Obama's gig. (Some on the left are furious with Obama for not proposing single-payer healthcare. I'm not weighing in on whether or not I think we should have single payer here. I'm just explaining that it's not what Obama's been talking about for more than two years.)

As President, Obama did not propose healthcare legislation. Rather, he laid out a list of goals he thinks reform should attain and left it to Congress to write the legislation. Obama's goals are these:
"The plan I'm announcing tonight would meet three basic goals. It will provide more security and stability to those who have health insurance. It will provide insurance for those who don't. And it will slow the growth of health care costs for our families, our businesses, and our government. It's a plan that asks everyone to take responsibility for meeting this challenge -- not just government, not just insurance companies, but everybody including employers and individuals. And it's a plan that incorporates ideas from senators and congressmen, from Democrats and Republicans -- and yes, from some of my opponents in both the primary and general election."

Legislators - and the media - repeatedly called for Obama to propose his own plan, so last night he laid out some specifics.

Health Care Reform is an area where reasonable people can and should disagree. But we can do so intelligently and respectfully. And if you are convinced that your position is so right and that the "other side" is so wrong, let's focus on the facts. Let's quibble about numbers and statistics if we have to; let's have a substantive discussion. But don't let's make up lies about what "ObamaCare" really is or isn't.

If you haven't had the opportunity to hear the President's speech outlining his plan for health care reform, please go listen or watch. It's an important way to spend an hour. (I watched most of it while running on the elliptical machine and the rest while folding laundry in an effort to save time and multitask.) And hearing the actual text yourself is vastly more reliable than catching snippets distorted out of context by the spin of your favorite news organization.

Related interesting reading:

America's Fatal Flaw: If it's not a crisis, we can't fix it
"It is demonstrably clear that the U.S. health-care system is on an unsustainable path. If current trends continue . . . health care will consume 40 percent of the national economy by 2050. The problem is that this is a slow and steady decline, producing no crisis, no Pearl Harbor, no 9/11. As a result, we seem incapable of grappling with it seriously. It's not as if the problems aren't apparent to everyone, whatever your political persuasion. Costs are rising so fast that every day, more than 10,000 Americans lose their insurance coverage. In 1993, 61 percent of small businesses provided health insurance for their employees. Now that number is down to 38 percent."

Attack! The truth about Obamacare.
My Note: Newsweek is not too fond of any of the Democrat-sponsored health care reform bills. The editorial position is frustration that Republicans and the media are focusing on fabricated hype and outright lies rather than engaging in substantive discussions on how to improve the bills. (Death panels, "socialized medicine," illegal immigrants receiving benefits, abortion and sex-change operations being covered, rationing, loss of your current health plan - all lies, all credibly debunked. But don't believe me! Please go read the text yourself, use Google to your advantage, get behind the fear and find the facts!)

Health Care Realities
So here’s the bottom line: if you currently have decent health insurance, thank the government. It’s true that if you’re young and healthy, with nothing in your medical history that could possibly have raised red flags with corporate accountants, you might have been able to get insurance without government intervention. But time and chance happen to us all, and the only reason you have a reasonable prospect of still having insurance coverage when you need it is the large role the government already plays.

"Where we disagree, let's disagree over things that are real, not these wild misrepresentations that don't bear any resemblance to anything that's actually being proposed." --President Obama

I am worried that whatever Congress creates will be so watered down as to be useless. I'm worried that it will be so full of pork and loopholes that it will be harmful.

But I'm more afraid of doing nothing at all.

Part 1 - Down Syndrome is a Pre-existing Condition

Part 2 - It Pays to Work for the Insurance Company
Part 3 - But We're the Best! Why Fix What Isn't Broken?
Part 4 - What Does "Reform" Really Mean?

The President's Plan for Health Care Reform