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Health Care Reform, what IS all the Fuss About?

We NEED Health Care Reform... so why are folks so bitterly divided?

In order for change and innovation to take place we need open dialog and open-minded people to take part in that dialog. Every day I'm getting 10-12 emails forwarded about Health Care reform... few of them further any kind of debate or offer ideas, most of them are simply negative attacks, full of distortions and lies.

I think we can ALL agree that something needs to be done with Health Care. The "status quo" is driving American businesses overseas and bankrupting American's every day.

Where the debate lies, is in WHAT needs to be done... and that requires an open-dialog based on facts, not rumors.

People that forward emails along on this subject rarely forward along BOTH sides of the “debate.” They only forward along things that support their own, preconceived ideas, and they tend to forward them without fact-checking at all.

In one email, focused on health care reform as pertaining to Seniors... it was noted that a lot of the "scare tactics" are aimed at that age group because, as the email said...

"Most seniors are not flexible and oppose anything new. We live in a gray world, but most people young and old believe we live in a black and white world."

I'm not sure I agree with the word "most" here, but I do agree that it seems like many of us, once we hit adulthood, have formed our "belief system" and are not open to new information, education or ideas. Sort of like we figured since we were done with school, we were done with learning. In fact, it seems like many folks take an opinion, or idea, that is different than their own as a "personal attack." Is it possible that a "fear of change" or resistance to change, is at play here? Something that is based more on visceral emotion, rather than clear thinking logic?

New ideals are crucial to innovation and progress. "You cannot solve a problem with the same kind of thinking that created it" (Albert Einstein).

I read recently about a study that was done about 5 years ago. According to scientists, it’s not just Seniors that are not flexible and oppose new ideas. According to that study, released during the Bush administration, "Political Conservatism as Motivated Social Cognition," so are those of us who identify as "conservative."

The root of our political beliefs can be found in many things, our upbringing, those whom we are surrounded by, our age, and, according to the study... our own psyches and neuroses.

According to the study, those of us who consider ourselves "conservative" tend to have a general fear of change, and an inflexibility when it comes to new ideas that goes beyond a "healthy skepticism."

As you can imagine, this study caused QUITE a stir, and lots of rigorous debate. But it can't be argued that resistance to change IS the definition of “conservative” ...“disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditional ones, and to limit change” ( / Random House Dictionary).

That study also pointed out some other interesting things besides an opposition, and fear of, change. It also found that a "conservative" mind has a much higher "loyalty factor" than a "liberal" mind and that a "liberals" mind may have more difficulty making decisions. Loyalty is certainly a great quality to have.. if we are loyal to the RIGHT things. And it is certainly a "plus" to make quick decisions, as long as we have weighed all the evidence.

The study itself was an illustration of "grey" as, one could argue that any "quality" could be argued to be a shortcoming or a virtue, depending on one's viewpoint. Though it does cause food for thought, and perhaps might spur us to ask ourselves... are our reactions to things based on logic or emotion? Are we more like "Lucy Ricardo" or "Mr. Spock?"

So.. the email writer was right ... the world is not “black and white” as many want us to believe. It is varying shades of gray, and, I believe, the true thinkers and innovators, live in the grey areas.

I DO find it interesting that, as of now, NO Republican congresspersons are endorsing the current health care plan, yet the Democrats are still divided. Is it that the Democratic side is made up of people who think for themselves, or are they wishy-washy and just can't make a decision? Is the GOP side made up of loyal followers without a mind of their own, or did they just make a quicker decision?

I've seen some good ideas and valid points come out of both side of the debate. Debate is GOOD. What is not good is the distortion of facts that simply clog the system and prevents anything positive from happening. "Politics as usual" is not productive here. Sadly, I've seen a lot of deliberate distortions, and even lies, coming out of the "con" side of this debate.

This blog I was sent below (I won’t use the word “article” because that implies fact checking), by the The Heritage Foundation was a good example of how the truth get’s twisted to try and confuse the gullible public.

The Heritage Foundation is a self-proclaimed "conservative think tank" and they have opened this blog in such a way as to imply that AARP (American Association of Retired Persons) is against Obama’s health care plan.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

This blog also distorts key issues of the health care bill. Here is a statement from President Obama himself that directly refute the distortions...

From that statement by the President....

"The American Nurses Association, representing millions of nurses across America, and the American Medical Association, representing doctors across our nation, announced their support because they’ve seen first-hand the need for health insurance reform.

They know we cannot continue to cling to health industry practices that are bankrupting families, and undermining American businesses, large and small. They know we cannot let special interests and partisan politics stand in the way of reform – not this time around.

The opponents of health insurance reform would have us do nothing. But think about what doing nothing, in the face of ever increasing costs, will do to you and your family.
" ...President Obama

While AARP has NOT officially endorsed the existing plan yet (because it is still fluid and subject to revision), they have come out strongly FOR health care reform and DENOUNCING the lies and rumors (propagated by some in the GOP, insurance and health care industry), designed to protect profit margins and maintain the status quo.

There ARE good ideas coming from the GOP... but I’ve not yet seen a cohesive, well rounded, viable plan for health care reform that address ALL the factors needing to be addressed. I have seen some cries for “tort reform” and tax deductions for private insurance that only address some of the more minor "issues."

Also, tort reform sounds good on the surface and seems to want to limit "frivolous" lawsuits, but statistics show that 85% of people that are victim of legitimate malpractice, never file a lawsuit, and tort reform could reduce protections for the public and go a long way toward insulating the profits of the insurance and health care industries from their own, legitimate negligence.

Tax deductions are a excellent, common sense idea, but, in my opinion, it’s like putting a band-aid on an amputation. Certainly I think that ALL heath care costs, as well as insurance, should be tax deductible, and I also think that over the counter health aids and supplements should also not be subject to sales tax as well, just like food is excluded from sales tax.

But I’ve not seen a GOP or “conservative” plan that addresses some of the biggest issues... like private insurers getting to “pick and choose” who they insure in private plans, leaving many out in the cold, the issue of insurance being tied to a job, or the fact that our “pay per procedure” system has caused costs to skyrocket completely out of control. Have I missed something there?

Massachusetts is the first state to go to a plan to insure that all citizens are covered. They now have achieved a 95% coverage rate in the state (which has been a big boon to the insurance industry) and are working on their plan for step 2 - to reduce costs of health care. One idea they are working on is a "pay per patient" system, instead of a "pay for procedure" system. "Pay for patient" removes the profit motive from prescribing unnecessary or ineffective treatments and testing. Some would argue that health care providers might go the other way and "skimp" on treatments, but I think that a fear of a negligence suit would prevent heath care systems from doing that. Also, a "pay per patient" system greatly encourages preventative and wellness care programs, saving us from unnecessary illness and disability and saving the system money.

However, sadly, Massachusetts did not go far enough in their system and it's been shown already that, financially, their system is not sustainable beyond the next 6-7 years. If they don't look at the MAJOR factors involved in health care costs, their experiment will fail.

Obviously there are many factors to consider when it comes to reforming health care. This is not a "black and white" issue. Yet there are those that are dead set on maintaining the status quo, and they know that “scare tactics” work well on an ill informed and lazy minded public who won’t take the time to learn the facts for themselves, but instead, allow 30 second sound bites, ratings driven media, and slogans to shape their “opinion.” Many of us will follow blindly along as we are led to the slaughter, our pockets picked along the way.

For instance, in talking about the plan being proposed now, the “fear mongers” use the word “rationing” to imply that Seniors will not be given NEEDED treatments. Yet nowhere in the health care bill does it say that at all (it only addresses waste and unnecessary procedures). They ignore the fact that Seniors ALREADY are subject to a form of rationing right now... In that the cost of medications, and co-pays, is so expensive that some Seniors have to make a choice between food and medicine, or food and health care. In fact YOUNGER people get the ultimate form of “rationing” right now, under the current system, since insurance companies can deny coverage altogether for pre-existing conditions, or deny coverage all together. If I had a pre-existing condition I would LOVE some “rationed” care for it... rather than no care at all... which is what many people get now.

Let me give you an example of something that might be considered rationing. My Aunt, when she was 90, stretched a ligament in her shoulder, making it difficult to raise her arm and causing her some pain when trying to do so. A surgeon had her “sold” on the idea of having a surgical procedure done and she had a surgery date set (covered by Medicare, of course). Then her GP found out about it and explained more fully the length of recovery, risk of death or complications, risk of picking up a secondary infection in the hospital, pain involved, and the physical therapy she would have to go though, as well as the fact that, at her age, there was a good possibility that she would simply reinjure that shoulder later anyway. My aunt balanced the two and, being smart enough to factor in the profit motive of the surgeons opinion, decided that she would “ration” herself and not have a procedure that was really unnecessary and that didn’t weigh heavily enough on the “pro” side of the scale in terms of improving the quality of her life.

Now, I don't know what the proposed Health Care plan would mean in my Aunt's situation above. Perhaps this is what they mean by "rationing." But SHOULD we provide expensive medical procedures to people who will not enjoy a signifiant improvement to their quality of life from them? Should we require that more than one Doctor review and sign off on the procedure before it is approved? I think that these situations will be addressed on an individual basis, and fairly.

Why do I think that? Because the Government has overseen Medicare and health care for the MILITARY (Military Hospitals are considered some of the best in the nation), for YEARS... and have done a good job, for the most part.

There are a LOT of unnecessary procedures performed on older people (and all people) that have no significant impact on their long term health and quality of life (some are called “defensive medicine”). Right now we have a profit-driven system that pushes unnecessary procedures & treatments because it puts more money in their pockets. My personal opinion is that I would rather participate in a not for profit system that did not give heath care providers an incentive to lead me down a primrose path toward things that are not necessarily in my best interest.

“Losing your doctor?” ...Right now we have a system that already creates that situation. When my mother was hospitalized, she was forced to see the doctors in the hospital and a “representative” that “communicated” with her primary care physician. So, when she was at her most vulnerable, when she most needed a familiar face, she was forced to deal with strangers. We did pay out of pocket for several hospital visits by her primary care doctor, just for her peace of mind.

One big PLUS of the Health Care bill I've seen is that it makes SIGNIFICANT provision for things that PREVENT illness and disease. Our current system doesn't do that on any broad scale, in fact our current system has a strong incentive to let us GET sick... because that is where the system makes its money.

No “system” is going to make everyone happy on all levels. There must be compromise if we are to provide affordable health care to ALL of our citizens. Frankly, I think that it is a CONSITIUTIONAL imperative that we do so.

Why? Because our country was founded on the principles of, and is dedicated to ... “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Need I point out that “life” comes first. Right now it is estimated that 18,000-22,000 people die every year due to lack of insurance that prevents them from getting adequate health care.

Add to that the number of people who die from complications sustained from treatments that were unnecessary and performed to line the pockets of the health care system (secondary infections picked up in hospitals kill thousands every year), and it's plain to see that our system DOES need reform.

What we don't need is status quo.

Reuter’s article on Obama / health care plan:

August 8th ADDRESS by Obama...

Health Care MYTHS and LIES...
...when people outright lie... How can we believe anything else they say?


I suggest that everyone BOOK MARK the health care bill and the next time someone sends you something that sounds like craziness... Remember it probably IS ... Go read the bill and check for yourself... I’ll bet you dollars to donuts that you won’t find anything in the REAL bill that even slightly resembles the “fear mongering” opinion/blog you were sent.

My Mom used to say... if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all. I would like you to challenge someone the next time they send you a negative diatribe about health care reform by saying...

"Instead of tearing down the efforts of others, perhaps you can contribute some meaningful ideas of your own."

Please, share your thoughts and ideas here and, please, if you are going to express an opinion, also provide some factual basis for the opinion as well, so that others can see "where you are coming from," and that a thought process has gone into the basis for the belief. Please also be respectful of others opinions and realize that this about a fair exchange of IDEAS.

(c) Copyright 2009


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