Archive for September 2009

Health Care Reform: Why?   2 comments

Health Care Reform: Why?

 The health care reform debate continues.   And as it does those who oppose the administration’s proposals point out the negative aspects which may occur under those changes.   At the same time those who support the proposals point out the positive aspects of the plans.   I would like to make some observations.

 It has been said by those in opposition to the reform proposals that health care costs would rise at the expense of the taxpayer, quality of care would not improve, rationing would be likely and our choice to the health care insurance plan and choice of physician we want would be limited if not eliminated.

 At the same time we have heard from the administration that health care costs would be held in check, quality, affordable health care would be available to everyone, rationing would be no worse…perhaps even less rationing…than it is now, and we would have a choice in health care insurance and choice of physician(s).

 With thoughtful consideration of both perspectives I have come to believe that there is probably some truth from both sides.   Statistics can be very useful in making decisions.   They can also be misleading if all the facts are not known.   If one has a particular bias, statistics can be skewed to support that bias…from either side of an issue.   I think that both sides have skewed the numbers to persuade public opinion in the case of health care reform.

 What is the real issue here?   What is the real goal in health care reform?   In my opinion the real and important goal is to provide quality, cost efficient health care to every American citizen.   The US is the only rich, developed nation in the world that does not provide this for its citizenry.

 Why do we want to provide every American citizen with quality, affordable health care?   I believe it is because it is the right thing to do.   It is the moral thing to do.   We are willing to spend huge amounts on many other programs, why not health care?   Yes, providing health care may (or may not-?) cost each of us more.    I am willing to pay more if my fellow citizens are provided with the health care that they so desperately need.   Yet I wonder if it will cost us more than the continual spiraling of health care costs that we face each year now.

 I guess that most of us agree that reform of our health care system is needed.   We just don’t agree on how to bring about that change.   Some would say that we should allow the private sector to make the necessary changes which would allow reform to happen.   As I reflect back over the last 10 to 15 years it doesn’t seem reasonable to me that the private sector would suddenly make an about face.   In the capitalistic system in which we operate, the profit motive is the driving force for the most part.   Where does the common good come into play under this model?   How would the private sector have to change in order for all American citizens to receive the health care that they need?

 Others would say that we need a strong government health care system with a single payor system.   With a single payor system there would be greater opportunity for negotiation in regard to reducing costs.   Opponents of a government single payor system would say that government has not shown a good track record for handling much of its business and has not always been cost effective in other areas of government affairs.   Of course, there are proposals that fall in between a single payor system and a multiple payor system.  Each type of system has its own advantages and challenges.

 My observation is that neither private or public systems are perfect.   Both systems are run by people.   People who are motivated by profit, bonuses, and/or promotion.   There is also opportunity in both the public and private sectors for graft and corruption.   Whatever system we ultimately choose to adopt we need to be sure that there is strong oversight and transparency.

 In all the rhetoric that we are presently hearing, may we keep in mind our ultimate goal…meeting the health care needs of our national brothers and sisters.   We need to reform health care because it is the humane and the right thing to do.   It may or may not cost us more, but we need to face the challenge and provide the health services that we all stand in need of.   May we come together with a common purpose, putting our personal agenda aside, for the common good of all of us.

Bottom line…”Health Care Reform: Why?”…Because, it’s the right thing to do.

Posted September 26, 2009 by terryflowersblog in Health Care

Health Care Reform: Who do you believe?   6 comments

As I follow the news coverage (from a variety of sources…both conservative and liberal), political speeches, talk radio and various blogs, I find that wading through all the various claims and counter claims can be daunting.  It’s almost as though the truth for many of us depends on who we want to believe.  Those on the conservative side of the spectrum tend to believe all the information which denounces “the bill” (even though it is difficult to figure out which bill they are referring to as there are up to five documents being worked on).  While liberals tend to believe what the President and his advisors are touting. 

I hear statements like “everyone agrees that the present health care system is broken” or “Health care insurance premiums are going to continue to grow at the present rate into the forseeable future” (the statistic I heard was that health care premiums have increased by twice the rate of inflation over the last ten years).  These statements, as far as I can tell, have not been contested.  It does seem that everyone agrees that health care needs to be fixed.  The debate seems to be how to fix it.

My observations:  1.  It seems that those who stand to lose the most are those who tend to oppose health care reform while those who stand to gain tend to support reform.  That shouldn’t be too surprising.  Who stands to lose the most?  It is my impression that the health care insurance industry stands to lose the most of any other single special interest group.  This special interest group is quite powerful.    The health care insurance industry donates a great deal of money to politicians, both to republicans and to democrats, for their campaign races.  What I have seen is that they donate more to republicans than to democrats.  That shouldn’t be too surprising as the GOP has been sterotyped to favor big business, while the democratic party has been sterotyped to favor labor.  Who stands to gain the most?   Labor stands to gain considerably.  Most labor support is from the middle class.  It is my impression that the largest group that stands to gain is the middle class…whether they are a part of a labor union or not.  However, as we have seen as a result of the financial crisis, we as a nation, depend heavily on  a strong middle class to drive the economy.  It may have been big business in the financial markets with their questionable, if not illegal, practices that brought the economy down, it is the middle class with disposable income that we are counting on to bring it back.  It would seem to me then, that policies that facilitate the growth of a strong middle class would not only benefit the middle class, but everyone as we share the same national economy.  2.  We need balance.  There needs to be a balance between our pride of individualism and the need for community.  There needs to be balance between big business and labor.  Question is: Where is that balance and how is it created?

As we work together as “one nation under God” we need to put aside motive words and phrases.  We need to quit vilanizing or demonizing those with whom we don’t agree.  Everyone needs to come to the table in good faith, to not only voice our concerns and views, but also to listen.   Listening is the most difficult part of comminication…just ask any married couple 🙂   Why would anyone of a particular opinion use motive words or phrases or demonize the other side of the issue?  The only reason I can think of would be to defeat or pass any bill for health care reform regardless of its content.  It certainly would not be to bring all parties to the table to discuss in a civil manner the various aspects of an issue in order to bring about concensus.  It seems that sensationalism, exageration and hype tend to sell in the airways.

I encourage everyone to get informed and get involved.  If we truely want a democratic system that works, we must not stand by and allow others to decide important issues for us.  I must admit that I am biased.  I feel very strongly that health care reform is not only preferable, but it is essential as it directly impacts every aspect of our lives.  But if you don’t agree with me, I still encourage you to get informed and involved.  We need the perspective of everyone in order to make the best decisions.  However, as we engage in dialogue, may we remain civil and respectful of one another.  May we discuss specifics and if appropriate offer ideas and solutions rather than dismissing any reform out of hand.  If the proposals are not satisfactory in your mind, offer alternatives…unless, of course, you simply don’t want reform at all.

I realize that there are some who oppose health care reform in any form.  There may be a variety of reasons for this.  They may have an ideological postition that government should not be involved in any way.   They may feel that government would abuse the authority and power that it is given.  Some don’t want government in their lives in any way or form.  Others may not want reform of any kind as it may mean that they will lose the power that they have.   They want the status quo for their benefit at the expense of the majority.  These are the groups and individuals that use words like socialism, communism, death panels and other motive words that are intended to raise fear and mistrust.   If no reform is your position, then be honest about it and come right out and say it…don’t beat around the bush trashing the efforts of those who are working hard to improve the system.

As far as I can tell the phrase “death panels” was derived from a section in one of the proposals that would authorize payment to physicians for their time in discussing with their patients end of life issues.  These issues would include a DNR (do not recussitate) order, living will, advance directive, and other such concerns.  These issues would be discussed with the physician, the patient and the family just as they are now under our current health care system.  If this were to be incorporated into a health care bill the only thing it would do would be to authorize payment for the physicians time.  The decisions made would still be up to the patient and/or the family.

In reality we already have “socialized” medicine in the form of medicare, medicaid and the Veterans Administration.  These socialized forms of medicine have served far more individuals fairly and well than they have been mismanaged or abused.  We also have to remember that much of the abuse of these systems come from the private sector…those providers who fraudently bill for services not provided.  Why are we outraged with the government agency that does not have the manpower to police when it is the perpetrator who is breaking the law and costing us, the taxpayer, millions of dollars that we should focus our anger toward?  When we hear the word “sociaized” we become emotional and fearful.  We don’t really understand what the term means.  A “socialized” program is one that is government controlled and operated.  Our assumption is that it is the form of program that is found in a communist or totalitarian government system.  In those systems it would be best termed as “socialized communism” or “socialized totalitarianism”.  In our nation we could call it “socialized democracy”.  That would mean that it would be democratically monitored, not the same as in a communist or totalitarian system.   In a “socialized democracy” decisions would be made for the social good of all, arrived at in a democratic way.

We must remember too that greed, graft and corruption occurs in both the private and the public sector.  Where there is opportunity there is potential for greed to bring graft and/or corruption…in any system, public or private.  We all are aware of government graft and corruption.  However we don’t have to look too far back to realize that some of the biggest cases of corruption have occured in the private sector…just look at the financial industry. Would we rather big business (health care insurance companies) make our medical decisions for us over a government agency?  That is a legitimate question that we all need to ask ourselves.

I have probably rambled on long enough.  I invite your comments, thoughts, and ideas.  I know that some of you will take issue with what I have shared.  That is your right.  I just hope that you will be respectful and thoughtful in your response.  Thank you for visiting my blog.  God bless –

Posted September 16, 2009 by terryflowersblog in Health Care