What passes for debate

One of the most valuable parts of the health care debate is how thoroughly it demonstrates the lack of awareness about how American society works.
Blog postings or C-Span calls reveal an appalling ignorance about the most basic aspects of civics.
When I heard someone ask on C-Span this morning “what’s parliamentary got to do with America?” it explained why it so difficult to pass meaningful legislation.
What most people don’t realize is that the bill before Congress is pretty much the Republican approach to health care. Those of us who remember the debates of the 1990s see this package, basically requiring everyone to buy a private health policy, as reminiscent of something Bob Dole would have supported,
We often hear folks shouting that they want government out of health care. Presumably this would be the same government that pays about 60 percent of health care costs as the single payer for Medicare, Medicaid and the veterans health system; operates many hospitals and medical schools and licenses all health care providers, medicines and medical devices.
The bill before Congress would provide a subsidy to about 10 percent of the country’s population which is not currently covered. Most of the other 90 percent are being subsidized by direct payments or tax breaks.
Even if one pays the full cost of health care with their own funds, the charges do not cover the true cost of medical treatment. If you think about it, no one has enough money to pay for health care as an individual.
I think of Dr. Dee Nehemiah in Los Angeles who brought together a group of friends to purchase an MRI machine for their doctor in south Los Angeles so black women could get screening for heart disease. That’s the exception to the rule.
Every other country on the planet realizes this and provides a national system for universal health care. There are some services which do not lend themselves to private markets because the service has to be provided to everyone. From a public health perspective, everyone has a stake in keeping everyone else free from viruses and other communicable diseases.
Services like water and sewer and garbage and electricity are required and regulated to make the society function. It is long past time for a national health care policy, however imperfect, so we can stop spending twice as much as other countries.
Unfortunately, the way the issue is discussed is making a lot of people sick.

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