Monday, June 22, 2009


If you bothered to read them, you might have noticed my last few "Recommended Reading" links have dealt with health care reform. I haven't written anything about the subject myself because, I figured, those guys are experts and can explain it a lot better than I ever could, especially when big words are involved. But now I feel I have to write about health care as it's all I can think about, especially after catching an old episode of Marcus Welby last night and thinking I might be coming down with the same symptoms as Special Guest Star Pat Harrington (his eyebrows were thinning out at an alarming rate...)

First up, "single payer", where the government pays for everything. This is the system Canada, Britain, and France has, but those countries, according to critics of single payer, are "nanny states". So? Fran Drescher has been wanting to go into politics, anyway. And didn't these critics ever watch Mary Poppins as kids? As a nanny, she was practically perfect in every way. She was also oddly alluring, wearing that tight-fitting Edwardian governess outfit, and seductively cooing "Chim Chim Cheree" (OK, I was a weird kid.) Anyway, according to the critics, we need a system that's "uniquely American", which actually pretty much describes the current system, what with it's 16% (as of ten minutes ago; more layoff announcements pending) of the population without any kind of coverage other than the police asking you to move along if you start having a seizure in front of an entrance to a dollar store. If we really need a uniquely American health system, can't the doctors, nurses, and orderlies just add red and blue to their basic white? Besides, there's things we use every day that came from somewhere else. Like our arithmetic. We got that from the people whom lately we've been so at odds with, the Arabs. And how about our language? It ain't called Americish.

Another reason we can't have single payer, according to none other than our President, is Americans have traditionally received their health care though their employers. I don't know. At the beginning of the 20th century, Americans, and pretty much everyone else, had traditionally traveled on horseback, had traditionally lit their houses with candles, and had traditionally relieved themselves outside (or in pots that they then had to dump outside), yet we somehow managed to break free of such traditions (so much so that we now tremble in fear whenever environmentalists warn us we might have to go back.)

Single payer is off the table. The public just won't stand for it. Assuming the public even knows what it is. Single payer has been so absent from the current debate, that if you asked the average Joe to define it, he may think it either has something to do with an unmarried couple going Dutch, or it's the opposite of a joint tax return.

Then there's the "public option". Under this plan we would still have private insurance, but it would compete with one run by the government. No one much likes this, either. Well, according to the latest polls, 70% of the public do like it, but we're not talking people who count. The President usually counts, and has been publicly in favor of such an option. There are rumors, however, that he's willing to drop it so as to not rile up the Republican minority. After two humiliating election cycles, he must feel those folks have suffered enough. Just what don't the Republicans (and some "blue dog" Democrats) like about a public option? They claim it's an invitation for the government to "meddle" with your health care. Perhaps. But we're talking competition here. You can either choose to have the government meddle with your health care, or, if you're an ardent laissez-fairest, you can opt to be turned away by a private company for a pre-existing condition.

Finally, there's mandates. Just force everybody to get insurance. Well, that's one way to achieve universal coverage. The private companies have no problem with mandates as long as it's THEIR insurance everyone is forced to get (although they still want the option, the private option, to turn people away.)

I wonder if we could solve other social problems with mandates. Poverty, say. Just make it against the law to be poor. Or homelessness. You legally have to live somewhere.

Then there's murder, rape, assault, burglary, and theft. Those problems need to be addressed.

Let's make crime a crime.

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