Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Ethics Challenge of Health Care

The ethics challenge: daring Democrats and Republicans to find a balanced solution to health care reform
  • The need for reform
  • The kind of reform we need
  • The process of reform

The need for reform of one-sixth of our economy
  • What kind of people are we? Most of us are doing fine, for now, but
  • --40 million of our neighbors have no health insurance
  • --millions more fear losing their jobs and therefore their insurance
  • Health care will break the federal budget within a decade or so, or—more likely—will lead to severe cutbacks in care and big increases in cost
  • Are we satisfied with a system that takes care of us while leaving our neighbor to suffer?

What kind of reform do we need?
An ethical reform means—
  • Giving everyone the chance for affordable coverage
  • Paying for benefits as we use them; not passing down the bills to our children and grandchildren.

What process do we use to get there?
Start with some truth-telling—
  • There are no death panels, Senator Grassley, your grandma is safe.
  • There will be rationing, President Obama. It’s true that there already is rationing—just ask anyone whose treatment has been denied by their insurance company—but there will be more, as forty million people are added to a system while costs are being cut from Medicare.
  • The insurance companies are already telling the truth about costs going through the roof without a powerful mandate requiring healthy people to buy insurance. (Absent such a mandate young healthy people will stay out of the system until they’re sick and need coverage—which all the reform bills prohibit the insurance companies from denying.)

There are good ideas on both sides of the aisle
  • Not matched by much good will on either side of the debate.
  • Too many lines drawn—
  • --no public option (nearly all Republicans)
  • --no bill without a public option (Speaker Pelosi and many Democrats).
  • Members of Congress are choosing up sides rather than working together to meet the ethics challenge. Both sides see danger where there is only difference. Neither seems willing to solve the problems without casting blame.

How to get the nation to real reform?
  • Televise sessions on C-Span, like the President promised during the campaign
  • Democrats commit to an inclusive process that listens to the concerns of the Republicans and the insurance industry
  • Republicans commit to participate in good-faith negotiations
  • Both sides leave ideology behind
  • e.g., the private sector is greedy, immoral, and irresponsible
  • e.g., the government can’t run a two-car funeral
The nation needs the best of both parties.

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