Tuesday, January 08, 2008

More Politics

OK I really did want to talk about more than Mitt last time, so here it goes.

My problem with politics is that I think most of the issues are actually very complicated and I find it hard to believe that one ideological camp has ALL the answers, while the other guys are out in left field as we are often left to believe when it's Democrats vs. Republicans. I think you can look at an issue and feel deeply about a certain outcome only to delve a little further and realize you were being led to believe one thing and hadn't considered the ramifications of points A, B, C, etc... Sometimes I find that while I'm for a certain "ideal" I'm not sure of the best means to that ideal until I really start to read through the issues. Am I making sense? Well here's an example.

A couple weeks ago, while at home, the issue of healthcare came up. My brother-in-law and sister-in-law said they were against Universal Healthcare. I immediately said I was for it, because I truly believe that healthcare should be available to everyone. The humanitarian side of me can't stand the thought of a child in need being denied healthcare, or a family going bankrupt because of unanticipated medical expenses, etc . In fact I wasn't sure why Republicans wouldn't want to provide that for everyone. However, during the debate I was struck with something Ron Paul said (I love that wacky guy). They were talking about immigration. He said (paraphrasing) that while sometimes it seems more compassionate not to turn someone away (he was specifically speaking of an illegal immigrant) for healthcare, what happens when that hospital has to close down because they have lost so much money treating patients who couldn't afford it? Then that hospital is no longer there to serve the community around them and the actual residents it was designed to care for in the first place. That is why a free market economy, if done right, truly is more humane than a welfare society.

That's where things sorta clicked for me. Perhaps this is over-simplifying, but the whole idea of giving a man a fish for a day, or teaching a man to fish for a lifetime. I'm sure this issue is MUCH more complicated, but for me I realized there are other ways to achieve what I believe is a compassionate and fair health care system while still providing for everyone and maintaining the high quality of care.

So here's my point...these issues are not as black and white as they seem. I'm sure there are many of you who know the in's and out's of this issue better than me (Azucar, Ellen I'm talking to you)....and I'm sure it's much more complicated. So please tell me, why are you for or against Universal Health Care? What am I missing? Does what I said make sense? Converse...

4 comments:

  1. Uh, why did you say me? or are you talking to another Ellen? is it because I'm on Medicaid (finally after 6 months of hassle!). Definitely the system is broken, as I have found out the hard way. I was much more anti-universal health care when my parents were paying for it or we had it through my work. Costs are spiraling so out of control that even my conservative dad is wondering about his previously hard stance. Amy, I agree that people, especially children, should not be denied care. But there is a difference obviously between universal care and government-controlled care. I don't believe it is the government's role to control every aspect of health care. Comparing the US with places like Ireland or even Canada is not convincing to me because their populations are so different than ours (ie, maybe giving Massachusetts UHC wasn't so hard - but for poorer, less educated, less healthy states, definitely harder). Possibly a hybrid approach, where we fill in the cracks rather than force everyone to change over? Eliminate some huge costs by enacting tort reform; regulate the ballooning administrative staff of insurance companies whose sole job (I'm serious) is to give doctors and patients denials and run-arounds, thus forcing doctors to hire more support staff to fight them and increase their costs; regulate some mandatory coverage so that insurance companies' profits don't resemble oil companies'. Also, NY has a great law about requiring fertility treatment coverage, which we definitely took advantage of, but it also outlawed having low-cost, short-term insurance for emergencies only (so I had to use my parents' address to get this while I was here looking for a job). I think government intervention will hurt as much as help, and if it becomes completely government-controlled, we are left with no choices and no way to go back. That's the scary part. These are just my thoughts at 11:30 at night. Besides, what if a party or president is in power with whom you disagree. We would be yanked around on a political chain with every act of Congress. Do we really want ignorant politicians making our health care decisions (Bill Frist is even a doctor, and we know from the Schiavo case how ignorant he is about medical issues)? I'm sure there are many more subtleties and options, but I really do think there are many things we can do to alleviate the problem before assessing whether totally government-sponsored UHC is truly the only option left. (and that only addresses care for US citizens). I agree with Ron Paul, though, that placing the burden on the hospital is unfair.

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  2. My central feeling is that this is a moral issue: we have a duty to care for the least among us, for the sick, for the injured. I don't know how we can look ourselves in the face when we put a price on everything, refuse lifesaving treatments, and monetize every piece of the human body.

    Besides, our current system is working...so well?

    "WASHINGTON, Jan 8 (Reuters) - France, Japan and Australia rated best and the United States worst in new rankings focusing on preventable deaths due to treatable conditions in 19 leading industrialized nations, researchers said on Tuesday."
    source.
    We pay more out of our pockets than any other industrialized nation for THAT?

    I have lived under universal health care, and you know what? It's a Hell of a lot better than what we have now: kicking mothers out after 48 hours post-partum, people driven to bankruptcy because they need a liver, couples having to divorce each other so that they can get the medical treatment they need; it's absolutely ridiculous.

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  3. Ellen--Yes I meant you. I didn't even think of the Medicaid thing, I just think you're intelligent and articulate and I wanted to hear what you had to say....

    To respond to both of you... I agree with you Azucar, in that I don't think that anyone should be denied healthcare--which is why I supported UHC in the first place. It seems like a fundamental right to me (maybe it's not, perhaps that's another discussion) and I hate the idea of people going bankrupt because they can't pay the high cost of health care, or worse people dying waiting for their insurance to kick in...BUT I agree with Ellen in that I don't think a government based system is the answer. This is actually where I really support Mitt--his plan in Mass. was able to get healthcare for everyone without it being a UHC plan. I don't know all the in's and out's, but I think if you can achieve a system where EVERYONE is insured AND it's not government controlled that seems like the best bet. Ellen I agree that once we go that direction we can't go back. We definitely need more emphasis on preventative care--that's got to be a priority. Another thing that really strikes a chord with me in this issue is self reliance...I agree that health care costs are out of control, but going back to Ron Paul's comment I truly believe a free market society in the end is more compassionate than a welfare system. Again, that may be way oversimplifying, but if we can cover those who don't have the ability to cover themselves, and somehow reduce costs than I'm all for it.

    Thanks for your 2 cents ladies. :)

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  4. I am definitely against (government controlled) universal healthcare, and this opinion has been solidified during my recent battle to get medicaid benefits. If the government takes 6+ months and innumerable hassles to get someone healthcare aid they qualify for, how can they take care of an entire nation's health? Out of the question.

    My brother pointed out some advantages to a proposed system where healthcare premiums are below the line tax deductions, leading to increased competition among insurance providers and cheaper plans not tied to employment.
    http://petebroadbent2.blogspot.com/2007/09/health-insurance.html

    I think a big problem with this issue is that people do get emotional. No one wants to see people denied care because of economic status. But you get what you pay for. In a country where healthcare is free I'm sure it would be great as a young person with no huge issues. But imagine getting older and starting to have health problems and being put on waiting lists and treated by doctors who are being paid government wage for what they do.

    Bottom line: I think a more responsible approach is to figure out how to make health care more affordable to all (I like Ellen's ideas) instead of jumping on the UHC bandwagon.

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