Sunday, January 24, 2010

A Few Observations on Health Care

1. Obama is right. Our health care system is broken.
2. Everybody knows this.
3. The time to do something about it is now.
4. If Republicans and Democrats can't figure out how to work this out, we need a batch of leaders who can.

On my flight back from L.A. Friday the fellow next to me was a Canadian. I asked about health care in Canada. He said everybody has it and it's good. On one of my trips home last year I sat next to someone in the Detroit airport from Norway (or maybe it was Denmark, a Scandinavian anyways) who I also asked about health care where he was from. He said it was thirty dollars. I asked what that meant, and he said whatever you go to the doctors for, the whole visit, tests, everything, was thirty dollars.

A fellow I work with has a brother in France. There were things he has not liked there, and the taxes are high, but as he battled cancer a couple years ago he was grateful that his medical expense would result in him losing his house.

We have been the richest country in the world, yet we say we cannot afford universal health care? Why are we the only country then that can't afford this when most lesser companies can?

A normal, healthy approach to the problem would be to have those who oppose explain why.

Opponent: "It can't work because _______ " (fill in the blank)

Reply: "O.K., if we fix ______ can we do it?"

Then both sides should address and fix each of the barriers. etc.

I do agree with those who say that government run programs are usually inefficient and expensive as compared to the efficiencies normal businesses are required to operate at in order to be competitive. But that's a red herring, isn't it? The net net is we can't claim to be a compassionate nation and just let people suffer because they can't afford health care.

As for the bill that is on the table now, from what I hear there are lots of problems with it. It may be because the bill is over 2,000 pages and our representatives haven't figured out how to find time to read it, let alone debate it line by line.

Consider this: the Social Security Act of 1935 was 82 pages. The Civil Rights Act weighed in at 74 pages. The National Labor Relations Act a slim 25 pages. And the Homestead Act 9 pages. These were major legislative events. Why is the current Health Care Bill so hefty then?

What if Democrat and Republican leaders put their best and brightest in a room and say, "O.K., you can't come out till you have hammered out a health care bill. It must be under 100 pages." Fifty pages would be better. And maybe one more thing. They take off their party hats and pins and put cotton in their ears so they can't hear the shrill voices of lobbyists... and they focus on using all the knowledge and experience they each have to think for themselves, no strings attached. Evidently I am living in a fairy tale at this point. Bummer.