Health Care: A Moral Obligation?

I’ve had access to excellent — and relatively affordable — health care my entire life. Without question or apology I want that to continue as I move into the so-called golden years. And there is something wrong in this country when any legal citizen — regardless of age or position on the earnings totem pole — either can’t get medical treatment or is ruined financially as a result of an illness.

In a modest way, my situation frames the issue facing Prez O and the political pooh-bahs. Many (most?) people like me recognize that changes must be made. More people need to be brought under the health-care tent. And our economy can’t sustain forever double-digit annual hikes in health-care costs. But — we don’t want to give up anything as a result. (End-of-life death panel anyone?) And we sure as shit don’t want to pay more for medical premiums or services. (By the way, ask any person — particularly high school teachers and college professors — who are eligible for retirement what’s keeping them on the job. Bet concerns over the cost of health-care coverage work there way to the top of the list.)

Yet, is providing universal health care a moral obligation? Uh, not sure about that. But I guess we’ll see, since the Prez said yesterday that this idea is going to surface as a key talking point for him and other supporters.

Health-care reform is a complex and emotional subject. And if you doubt that ask anyone — like me — who has tried to communicate changes in benefits and health-care plans to employees. It’s tough going, even in smaller venues and even with very specific information to convey. And nobody jumps for joy if he or she believes it is a take away.

In many ways it doesn’t surprise me that Obama and team are having such a difficult time talking about and gaining support for health-care reform. Opponents can talk about what they don’t like — and why it won’t work. And the medical providers and insurers and other special interests are experts at creating roadblocks. Hey, isn’t this called the golden age of PR?

The other side — those pushing health-care reform right now — has very little to offer in the way of specifics. Public option one day. Co-ops the next. And so on.

So now they will take a new approach and see if people agree that it is a moral obligation.

We’ll see.

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