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Just debate the facts

President Obama is committed to making changes in our healthcare system.  We have a huge problem as a nation where healthcare costs are spiraling out of control.  This is slowly strangling our economy as one way or the other, we all pay for our healthcare costs.  If you get your healthcare through work, then the customers or financiers of your employer are paying the bill.  If you buy your own healthcare, as I do currently, you are obviously paying directly.  And, if you have no healthcare, you are either probably depriving yourself of care you may need to keep you from endangering the rest of us, or you get care for free through some mechanism that is indrectly paid for by taxpayers.

So, I don't think anyone argues about wanting to lower the cost of healthcare.  But, there is a lot of disagreement on how to do it.  I'm no expert, so I'm not going to discuss this.

The second issue is coverage.  Most people in this country get healthcare through their employer.  If you don't have a job, or you don't have a job that includes healthcare benefits, you have to either buy insurance yourself or go without.  The government already insures our oldest citizens and some of our poorest through Medicare and Medicaid.  Since we all end up paying for the cost of our healthcare one way or the other, it makes sense to get as many people as possible insured.  But, it's not clear how to do that.  And, it seems to me that it would be desirable to make sure that if someone is insured that their insurance actually covers them without kicking them out when they get sick or if they had a pre-existing condition.  This aspect of reform seems to be the least controversial, but we'll see.

I don't know much about healthcare policy, but I do know that we'll never get anywhere unless we debate the facts.  Instead, a lot of opponents of the reforms being debated in Congress have resorted to ridiculous lies and distortions rather than attacking the actual facts of the proposals.  I am sure that there are weaknesses in the proposals being discussed in Congress.  But, the issues of the so-called Death Panels that will decide when your grandmother will be killed, the insuring of illegal aliens, or the forced government-funded abortions are scare tactics.

The Boston Globe today had an article that addressed the distortions and discussed what is really in and not in the bills being debated.  This article is consistent with other analyses I've seen that look at the facts.  These proposed policies are certainly subject to disagreement, but let's avoid distortion.

You might expect so-called pundits on TV to spout ridiculous distortions.  But, when people who consider themselves statesmen and stateswomen do the same, it's shameful.  I'm not sure what they hope to gain.  Didn't they see that Obama won by pulling in the middle?  Fear-mongering may rally the far right (in this case), but it will push away the middle.  If the Republicans want to regain some momentum, I think that they should abandon their extreme base and take the high ground on policy, ethics, and fiscal conservatism.  The middle will be the first part of the country to move away from Obama if he doesn't meet their needs.  But, the Republicans aren't giving them any place to go.  And, with ridiculous distortions, they'lll just be left to yell at themselves.


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