Health Care Reform: What is the real issue?

Here is a discussion I had on Facebook in response to this article about Obama’s health care reform (or rather health care insurance reform). It ‘s not a bad article and makes a good point, but I’m ever the critic. Here was my first comment:

I’ve never been one to think in black/white terms. I didn’t assume the health care reform either had to be a total success or a total failure. It has both some good aspects and some less-than-good aspects. From my perspective, it simply isn’t what the majority of Americans wanted which was either public option or single payer.

https://benjamindavidsteele.wordpress.com/2010/04/06/health-reform-public-option-polls-other-info/

If not for lobbyists, we would already have public option or single payer. But Obama threw those off of the table. Why should we be satisfied with crumbs instead of demanding the whole pie? Yes, crumbs are nice when you are starving, but that should be the bare minimum of a starting point.

I understand looking for the positive. Anything is better than nothing. But let us not be overly grateful in begging for these crumbs. We shouldn’t have to beg for crumbs in the first place.

My friend Nicole responded with this:

“Agreed but there is a difference between being overly grateful and being downright hateful (not you personally but so many people on “Obamacare”)”

Continuing my criticism, I make a plea for balance:

I understand what you are saying. I just get tired of both sides that either want to attack or idolize Obama. There is no need to apologize to Obama just because there is some good in health care reform. One would hope there is some good in any health care reform. Anyway, apology wouldn’t be necessary if one didn’t react with emotional criticalness in the first place.
Let’s stand back and look at politics without becoming identified with one side or the other, without getting emotionally drawn in. Let’s have a discussion based on the known data.

After losing a posted comment, I added some further thoughts on a related issue that came to my mind:

That is odd. I posted a comment after your last comment, but it is no longer shown here. Where did it go. I don’t even remember all that I wrote. Part of what I said was that I understand that you are willing. I wasn’t criticizing you or people like you. I wasn’t criticizing your having posted this. I wasn’t even criticizing the act of pointing out the positve aspects of a particular policy promoted by Obama.

But that isn’t the reason I came back to this post. I was thinking about Obama last night. I was thinking about what is good or bad about him or else what is just neutral, the neutral part standing out to me.

In particular, I was comparing in my mind Obama and Bush. The reason I was doing this is because Obama has continued many of Bush’s policies, not all but many. Even Bush proposed some health care refom such as with his Medicare prescription drug program. Bush was a ‘compassionate conservative” which meant that he was as interested in social programs (health care, education, etc) as a Democrat like Obama. In the opposite direction, Obama is just as interested in promoting the power of the presidency as any neocon Republican, is just as interested in promoting the security state (with its undermining of civil liberties) as any war hawk Republican.

So, what makes Obama and Bush different? This is where it gets interesting.

In terms of personality and career, Obama and Bush couldn’t be more different. Obama was more of an outsider who worked his way up and Bush was born into wealth and power. Obama learned to play the game well becoming a professional politician and Bush was used to things being handed to him without having to work for it. Obama was intelligent and well-educated and Bush was just average.

It’s the professional politican aspect of Obama that stands out. Bush isn’t a professional politician. Bush is where he is because he has done what people have told him to do. He inherited political connections from his dad. Bush is a puppet. As a puppet, he is as good or bad as those pulling the strings. Obama isn’t a puppet. Instead, Obama acts according to pressure. Obama listens carefully to the public and to lobbyist groups and he guides his political career carefully.

What this means is this: Obama will only do good if pressure forces him to do good. So, the good that came about in health care reform came about to the exteent there was enough pressure to do so. He chose to push for health care reform because he was paying attention to polls and saw that it was in the air. Bush, however, isn’t pressured in the same way. Rather, Bush just does what his handlers/advisers tell him to do, and so its his handlers who respond to the pressures and filter them accordingly. A big difference is that Bush’s handlers/advisers happened to be evil geniuses who were heavily mired in the power structure of lobbyists and good ol’ boy politics. No amount of public pressure would likely have influenced Bush, but enough public pressure will influence Obama.

By the way, after posting that I went back to the article and noticed an added response by the author. Unsurprisingly, there were many haters of the view she expressed in her original article, mostly partisan attacks I presume. Here is her response to the “haters”:

“I wrote this piece to give the health insurance crisis in this country a common face.  My objectives in writing it were to hopefully get people to see themselves in me and my family, and I wanted people to know what Obama has done for people who have pre-existing conditions so they can get health insurance through PCIP.  My husband and I both knew that by doing this, we would invite hatred into our lives, and that indeed has happened.  To those of you who don’t want to see the commonalities between me and my family, let me pose it to you this way:  If your sister or mother lost her job and health insurance, and then turned up with breast cancer, what would you do?  Would you let her die?  Would you pick up the cancer tab yourself?, or would you tell her about PCIP?”

That is fair. She is making a good point. Such discussions aren’t just ideological battles or philosophical debates about abstract ideas. No, that isn’t the real issue, despite that being what politicians and pundits too often make it into. This is ultimately about real people. I might be dissatisfied with the results. Any rational person would have to admit that health care reform could have been better. It would be a cold-hearted person who would dismiss the people who have actually been helped.

18 thoughts on “Health Care Reform: What is the real issue?

    • It’s not just the amount of money spent on trying to improve health. It’s also the money spent (and made) in harming people’s health through externalized costs. I’d love to see another graph including that latter data.

    • I think so … and not in a good way at all.

      Keep in mind, health insurance premiums probably rose across the board in 2015. The implication is that Obamacare, contrary to the claims, did not lead to higher quality care at a lower price. Worse, it has contributed to rising premiums AND declining mortality.

      Just curious, but did your insurance rise in 2015? The point though is that Obamacare is not working as planned.

      Premiums continue to go up
      Insurance deductibles and co-pays continue to rise
      This has not led to a jump in life expectancy

      If Obamacare’s purpose was to increase coverage of the poor, you’d expect life expectancy to dramatically rise because now the poor would have decent health coverage.

      Keep in mind the 1993 decline in life expectancy was due to AIDS. We do not have a similar contagious virus spreading and causing that sort of death.

      • I get good healthcare insurance because I’m a government employee. I pay a lot less than most people would for the same coverage. Most people aren’t government employees. And if you’re a government employee in conservative state and/or a poor area, your benefits aren’t likely to be all that great. In some places, public school teachers don’t make enough money to live on and have to get second jobs.

        I bet fewer people would work second jobs if not for expensive healthcare costs and insurance still shoves so much of the costs onto individuals. It makes no sense that healthcare costs are so high. I think healthcare insurance should simply be illegal, at least for basic healthcare. No one should go without basic healthcare because of costs and no one should go into debt for getting basic healthcare.

  1. Hmm …. something happened around 1980.

    That is also the year of course that Ronald Reagan took power and tons of parts of the US began to change around that time. This is probably no coincidence.

    • It was 1975 when wages first began stagnating and have been continuously stagnating ever since. Actually, for most Americans, wages have been dropping these past decades, when calculations include inflation, costs of living, and buying power. To be fair to Reagan, the economic policies began under Carter. David Stockman worked under both administrations. It was a bipartisan change. After Reagan and Bush, Bill Clinton brought neoliberalism to the next level and helped it to become fully entrenched. Later on Stockman apparently realized the error of his ways and became a critic.

    • There is sort of a silver lining. These kinds of problems have existed for a long time. Trump is just making them so blatant that they can’t be ignored any longer. All of it has become so blatant that even the most clueless of liberals are forced to pay attention.

  2. I am thinking that there are many more members of Congress who have lined up their pockets in one way or another.

    We really need a complete review about this one.

    • I’ve thought for a long time we need a truth commission.

      Anyone with any information of criminal or moral wrongdoing in government or among those with influence over government can come forward. Any illegal activities that they committed could not be prosecuted, as long as they came forward with all the info they have. It would be a one time deal. The hearings would be public along with video of the testimonies. It might need to be a year long process with possibility of extending it if more people come forward than expected.

      After the hearings were over, all of the revelations would be fully investigated and those who didn’t come forward would be prosecuted. Then following that we would have a constitutional convention to decide how to move forward as a country and ensure this doesn’t continue.

    • That is my attitude. I promise that I will neither forget nor forgive. And I do know how to hold a grudge. I’ll be ranting about all of this for the rest of my life. I don’t drop things. I’m persistent, if nothing else.

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