Friday, December 18, 2009

The Moral Pain of Health Reform

First, a caveat about this post. I’m 36 hours post left knee arthroscopy with partial meniscal removal, and just took my first oxycodone and it’s about 2 AM. The first 24 hours were pretty good pain-wise, but now I’ve got some ache, enough to drive me to the pills. So here I am awake and a little alert, enough to drive me to blog. So, we’ll just have to see how it turns out.

I’m so mad I can’t see straight or think straight. The subject – health care reform, which, as you know, I’ve been paying a fair amount of attention to. I’m just so mad at the industry payoffs that the Senate bill has in it. Pharma, hospitals, and health insurance companies, such an unholy trio. The first two do some good, the last one not so much, but all three then become what they call “stake-holders.” My god, what a term. Stakeholders. As in, I’ve got my claim to possession of a territory that yields money. Why does that offend me? Is it my mother’s and father’s voices from their Commie past in the 30’s that eroded to realism, but an idealism of “should’s” that never did really recede? I try to think, “That’s the way people are” and not use the term “should,” because I see how that moves quickly to anger. But I guess this is the operative process as I get so mad I agree with Howard Dean, and I say “Pull the bill – don’t pay the ransom.”

Realistically, I know it has to be passed. It’s more than deeply flawed, it’s morally offensive, and offensive in a practical way as well, because we know from history that any angle that can be played, any trick that can be conjured, any grand hypocritical avenue that can be traveled, these industries will do it. “Public good” never passes their lips that it is betrayed before hitting the listener’s ear.

Still, it needs to be passed, because people need the coverage, some of the insurance tricks are done away with, and the logjam of health care organizational stasis is broken. OK, I know that. But it is so outrageous to see the players, preening, representing so few thinking people, paid off in so many ways. What a system.

Maybe in the end this is what it takes. We know the Churchill quote that it’s a terrible system, but there is no better. Plato called for wise men, and anywhere that something like that has been tried it hasn’t worked. Maybe moving millions of people in a direction takes this. Maybe watching sausage or legislation be made is not for the weak of stomach.

But it’s hard, it’s just so hard.

Budd Shenkin

1 comment:

  1. I'm trying to see ahead under both scenarios — the Senate Bill and the course Dean favors. And I'm scared of the 2010 elections under either one. Blanche Lincoln and Mary Landreu deserve to lose. But how many others, less or undeserving, will share their fate? Not passing the bill will be very bad politically; passing it as is or by the House under reconciliation would probably also be bad politically. But when will there be another chance? I'm still open minded and ready to listen to Dean and friends (I presume he has them) who agree with his view. I just don't know. But I would like to see Joe Lieberman sentenced to the stocks in the town square for at least 24 hours — long enough so that each of the television news outlets can interview him sitting there with his hand and head poking through the wood! That would make me feel a little better.

    I trust your knee will be free of pain in another day or four and that you'll be back on the basketball court — I guess that's taking it too far.

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