I would like to take the next 45 minutes to write a stream of consciousness case for why I support universal health care. This is a quick draft, and I will edit as I get feedback. I wanted to put these thoughts out there while I was thinking them.
Let me say up front that I oppose nationalized health care, any sort of single payer plan, and Obamacare at least as far as I understand it so far. I am also, for the most part, a political and fiscal conservative.
Neither do I have a good working definition as to who gets to be included in the word “universal.” This in itself is a minefield. However that is resolved, I cannot see us turning our backs on the “strangers and aliens and sojourners” amongst us.
So how can I support such a notion? When I look around and see some people who live in huge houses in gated communities and others who live in relative squalor, it bothers me. Yet I know that “the poor will always be with us,” and, that pretty much any attempt to equalize things is doomed to failure, the cure being worse than the disease. I am OK with the fact that I live in a small house and one neighbor lives in a giant house and another rents a tiny apartment.
But when I look around and see that most people have some reasonably decent measure of health care and some people have none, and that many people are terribly sick and dying because of the lack of it, then I stand back and think, “wait a minute, this is just not right.” It is not unlike how I would feel going into a church, with people who are poor and sick and dying on one side, and people who are healthy and well on the other side. I would be going into Amos mode if I witnessed that state of affairs. It would not be pretty. The very idea that the well-to-do side of the church could tolerate such a state of affairs would be evidence of deep and profound moral failure.
The city is not the church. The community is not the church. Yet it bothers me only a little less that the middle and upper classes (struggling as they [we] may be in their [our] own way) can sit back and be OK with the present state of affairs.
I am not a liberal and I am not of the mind to force the more well to do by governmental fiat to make this right, but it bothers me that WE, those that have healthcare, and who have some means, and WE, all us groupings and organizations of people who have a stake in this matter, aren't voluntarily offering solutions, solutions whereby each of us bears part of the load. That bugs me - a lot. And to the insurance companies, medical associations, the AARP, health care workers unions, hospitals, doctors offices, tort lawyers, pharmaceutical companies, pharmacies, and every other group, I say, get your butts to the table. You’re going to make less – profits, wages, down the line. Accept it. Start offering solutions. What can YOU do.
To my fellow insured Americans, let me say this. If you’re OK with all your neighbors standing in line at the emergency room to deal with flu and minor injuries and other common sicknesses, then shame on you. You should not be OK with that.
If we are NOT OK with that then we are going to have to give up something. What are you willing to give up so that our neighbors have some level of decent medical care? We’re going to have to have higher deductibles or higher co-pays - OR - someone is going to have to triage all the various needs somewhere somehow. We can’t keep the current state of affairs going. It is not just.
And to you cigarette companies who deal in sickness and death, how do you feel about all this? Do you sleep well at night? And you companies pushing soft drinks to our kids in schools, and any number of other things bad for their health, are you OK with things?
Just because a person is willing to buy something if you sell it doesn’t mean you should sell it. And it certainly doesn’t mean you should push it. How are you different than the drug pusher down at the corner?
And to all of us knowingly and willingly living high risk lives smoking, eating crappy food day in and day out, drinking too much, etc., how is it exactly that we have any “right” to have other people bail us out? How is it fair for a health insurance company not to “rate” us, and charge us more?
And you pharmaceutical companies, health insurance companies, hospital conglomerates, and so on, is your world really going to come crashing down if your margins are a little tighter.
The issue of health is a public issue. How we raise and feed cows and pigs, how we grow crops and bring them to market, what sort of poisons we put into the air and water, what sort of cars we drive – all this impacts the cost of medical care. The ground level ozone created by inefficient and gas guzzling and pollution spewing cars and trucks, and by industrial emissions, do you not think this is a health issue? Duh, it is, and it is driving up the cost of health care everywhere.
How can it be in our national and economic self interest to have so many people unable to be productive because they are sick, uninsured, victims of bad habits that decent preventative care could reduce, unemployable, missing days and days of work? How can that be good?
So what do I want? Do I want to see the government in charge of health care? No. Do I want our system to look like the one in Canada or Great Britain? No. What I want to see is groups and people voluntarily addressing their share of responsibility in the whole issue, and their share of responsibility in looking after their neighbor’s well being. Everybody needs to give up some “privilege” in order for the whole to be just and right. In the end I believe that we will all gain and live in a more healthy and just society.
As a postscript to my fellow conservatives. Obama is not correct about one important thing. This is not the last chance for a generation to pass health care reform. The tide is moving inexorably toward some sort of universal single payer plan in the absence of a private solution. If you don't want a universal single payer plan, then quit wasting your time screaming and yelling about socialism, and use your influence instead to get the private interests to the table. For if we cannot do this voluntarily it will be imposed, and through that imposition the very socialism you so abhor will become the status quo. Enough of the red herrings and scare tactics. Do something positive.