I’ve been asked by friends and family to comment on the health care reform bill, and I have taken my time responding…partly because I’ve been busy, but I am also unsure of what to write. I’m not sure whether I should respond to the controversy or let it pass by. For me, the subject of this bill is not only part of my daily work, but as many of you know it’s also my labor of love. I know what I wish had been added to the bill, my favorite parts, and the things I don’t like. I could create a post just about those three items, and I think I will do that soon. But…then there are the pundits and the spin. I could spend an entire post responding to the controversy, both discussing the misrepresentations and truths. What to say?
I am intrigued by the party lines people draw when making their decision, both for and against. Nate would call me naïve for believing people will keep an open mind. Change is difficult, and health care reform is no different. Our country’s history weighs in heavily on reform. The issue is also complicated by each individual’s current health, wealth, and health care status (insurance or lack thereof). After spending some time pondering, I’ve decided it’s only natural that in a time of change, people sometimes return to public figures they trust—even the Rush Limbaughs or Jon Stewarts. This is a problem. Pundits know nothing about health care reform. What we need is a health care guru, someone Americans on both sides of the aisle can turn to and trust to give it to them straight. While President Obama is attempting to be that person, in name alone he represents ideas outside of health reform that muddle his argument. So, where do we go from here?
"If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea" – Antoine de Saint Exupery
In the absence of a nonpartisan leader, I’d like to start a conversation with you all. First, I’m going to return to my plea of a few months ago. Please make a conscious effort to be open-minded, and I say that with the awareness that it is not easy to do so. Before we start the conversation, let’s all do some homework, which comes down to two words: due diligence. Learn one new thing per day about health care reform. Here’s the catch: you are not allowed to learn that thing from a pundit. Turn off CNN and Fox News. Whether you are for or against this administration, I suggest you give the US Government’s side some reading time. After all, how else can you make an informed judgment? But you don’t have to end there. Many think tanks (e.g. TFAH & Heritage Foundation) and non-profits (e.g. KFF & NACCHO, my own employer) are hard at work analyzing the current plan. Check out what they have to say. If you’re feeling spunky, you can even take a shot at reading the actual Senate and House bills (see NACCHO link above for summaries). I would venture to say reading blogs (see links below) may also help get you going; I wouldn’t leave out anyone who has done some research for you, since I can’t promise ANY document has a completely nonpartisan slant.
Giving you homework doesn’t get me off the hook—I’m not just telling you what you have to do. I try to learn as much as I can EVERY DAY about health care reform. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. I believe health care reform is not just important; it may be MORE important than the war in Iraq or economic reform. If we don’t get our health and our health care in line, we risk losing not only our way of life but our LIVES and, even more importantly (in my mind), our children’s lives. By asking you to educate yourselves, I’m not being sarcastic or hateful. I seriously want nothing more than for you to learn what you want to happen in health care. Don’t tell me what you don’t want to happen; I want to know what YOU would do if you were in charge. It may be cheesy, and I may sound like a public service announcement, but whatever. In the end, they were on to something: knowledge is power.
A few blogs:
The Weiss Report (right-leaning): http://abilitycorner.com/democratic-leaders-block/
The Huffington Post (left-leaning): http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tag/health-care-reform