Monday, September 21, 2009
The Clinton administration campaigned aggressively for health reform and failed in the 90s. George W. Bush, the instinctively reviled poster child for arrogant Republicans by those on the left, helped to pass Medicare Part D, which was successful in bringing down the percentage of seniors who lacked prescription drug coverage from more than 20 percent to around seven, according to a blog written by Peter J. Pitts, president of Center for Medicine in the Public Interest. I bring this point up not as an iron-clad endorsement of his methodology or agenda, but simply as an example of incremental reform steps coming from unexpected places and people.
So why does it seem there's been an immediate and vociferous outcry from many across the country expressing opposition to the reform advocated by the president and congressional Democrats? I believe the backlash was largely the result of the aggressive initial push to pass a bill before the August recess. I know I thought to myself, "What's the rush?" As I'm sure many other Americans did as well. Not that I don't think there should be healthcare reform. I certainly do. However, I think it should be done methodically, and a variety of proposals and approaches should be thoroughly reviewed. Ironically enough, that's where we stand now. Hindsight being 20/20, Obama and Congress probably wish they would have pursued the "national dialogue" approach now, rather than trying to ram-rod a hasty, draconian solution through the legislative process.
But for those who decry "Big Government" intrusion, the fact is, that foundation was laid long ago, largely starting with the administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt. We're way too far down that road to fully undo six decades of bureaucracy-building, but perhaps we should think twice before proliferating it even further.
Lastly, when did universal health insurance become a "right"? Progressives have long espoused this notion to the point where many consider it as fundamental as the Bill of Rights. But like many other social programs proposed by the left, any notion of personal responsibility is effectively lost in the debate. Many claim that universal coverage will cut down on the number of superfluous and trivial doctor visits. However, in my conversation with a friend who works as a physician's assistant, many of the visits to the free clinic in which she works are for relatively minor ailments. While I empathize with those with limited means that need health care, by and large, if you don't have some "skin in the game," what's the incentive not to take as much advantage of a free resource as possible?
Whichever way the debate turns in this issue, I sincerely hope that some element of personal responsibility, whether monetary or lifestyle management, will be required for the majority of the population. Otherwise, I fear the cost savings promised by the proponents of reform will never materialize.
I'd love to hear your experiences and opinions below.