I’ll admit it. I had an enjoyable weekend here in Northeast Ohio. Weather was fantastic: mild and sunny. Had two nearly pain free early morning runs Saturday and Sunday. And I made it Saturday night to the Kent State Folk Festival to see and hear the Del McCoury Band and Sarah Jarosz. If you have the opportunity, go to the folk festival — or get to the Kent Stage for another concert. Quite an experience.
The folk festival tends to draw an audience that turns the performances into an AARP hootenanny. So I thought it was ironic that just as I was leaving the Kent Stage — at a little after 11 Saturday night (yawn) — that I received my first buzz alerts on my BlackBerry via Twitter about the House passing its version of health care.
I’ve had excellent employer-provided health care for the past 40 years. And I’m on the cusp of being eligible for Medicare — the public option plan that seniors like me want to hold on to with a death grip. So what’s my take — and I expect many others like me — on all this?
I react to the health care debate in the manner of a right versus right dilemma — as could be stated by Rushworth Kidder, the common sense ethics guru whose text I used in my media ethics class at Kent State. Simply stated, people in this country should have access to affordable health care. But who is going to pay for it — and what trade offs, if any, are we willing to make to provide at a minimum some level of universal coverage? That’s really what’s on the table now. And it takes the form of two (maybe more) “rights” — and no easy solution.
OK. I haven’t read the House version of the health care bill — nearly 2,000 pages. Have you? Has anyone? And who types all of this? And proofs it? Oops I digress.
Anyway, here are some thoughts:
- To say the least, this is a complicated issue. And here is another example where we really do need an informed press. With all of the debate, commentary, TV Talking Head shouting matches and so on, I really don’t understand the scope of this bill or what promises were made to lobbyists, insurance companies, members of Congress and so on. Does it really take 2,000 pages to outline a plan to cover those 36 million or so who don’t have — or maybe who don’t want to have — health insurance? And then I read this via an AP story in the Akron Beacon Journal Sunday: “At its core, the measure would create a federally regulated marketplace where consumers could shop for coverage. In the bill’s most controversial provision, the government would sell insurance, although the Congressional Budget Office forecasts that the premiums would be more expensive than for policies sold by private firms.” Say what? Good grief.
- Following the passage in the House, President O called it a “courageous vote.” Really? It looks like politics as usual to me. And shouldn’t there be an expectation that those who we elect to public office will actually vote in the public interest? If you are doing what you believe is right — without always looking forward to the next election — then it doesn’t seem as though courage would be as important as ethics. Sigh.
- How did health care get mired in the abortion debate? This has been the voting litmus test for candidates and judges. Will this issue now decide health care as well?
- Does anyone really trust the spending estimates — or the publicly stated ways to reduce costs? Here’s from USA Today: “To pay for the expansion of coverage, the bill cuts Medicare’s projected spending by more than $400 billion over a decade. It also imposes a tax surcharge of 5.4% on income over $500,000 in the case of individuals and $1 million for families.” Good luck with that.
Oh well. As I said, a complicated issue — and any kind of legislation still has a long and difficult road before it it travels from the Congress to the White House for the Prez to sign into law.
And I don’t have high hopes that we’ll get this in the Senate.
But what we need now is some plain talk — some simple explanations ranging from coverage to costs. The fact that many (most, including me?) really don’t understand this bill makes it an easy target. Death panels anyone?
And most of all, we need some common sense to enter into all of this.
Yes, it’s that important.