Our healthcare reform debate is moving nowhere fast. Well, nowhere good anyways.
Regardless of your view of our healthcare system, can you say the debate in its current form is...productive? Whether you think our healthcare system is in shambles or the greatest in the world has, has this debate been...useful, productive, helpful?
Yes. And no. No. It is not proved helpful as a means to find a solution to some of the inconsistencies, and their fallout, from how healthcare is provided and to whom it's provided in this country.
Yes. If I look at this healthcare reform scrum being held daily, nightly, 24 x 7 now with social media as a debate over our nation's values, then...yes. It is very valuable.
But that's the confusion. We think we're debating our current healthcare system with its drug reimbursement costs, criteria for health insurance coverage, EMRs, doctor visits, prescribed treatments, plans and means to deliver any and all.
Instead, we're debating do we love our grandparents, how much, competitive business models, who pays for our healthcare and why, when do we pay, should we help others, why should we, is health a right or a treat, why a private bureaucrat is oh so preferred to a public bureaucrat when denying healthcare treatment, should children have healthcare, who's a socialist, why a single-provider makes a competitive marketplace, why do I have to change...why government intrusion in our healthcare is bad but government intrusion in our marriages is good...we're debating our values as a nation.
We were built on the foundation of that statue in the NY harbor entrance. You know her. The Statue of Liberty. The one that greeted our ancestors, who entered this country uninvited and without a visa, and greeted them with the sign: give me your poor, etc, yearning to be free.
And fortunately, everyone was embraced more or less, as the common bond of yearning to be free was shared, equally and openly. And on that basis we became, until recently perhaps, the most generous nation in the world. Got a disaster? Well, there we were helping the strangers effected by it. Got a vexing national problem? There we were with volunteers and agencies helping. We weren't the only ones. Other nations were there, too. But for 30-40-50 years, it seemed we were there more often, with more people, with more resources.
(Yes, it's understood that government and corporate interests sometimes clouded the intent.)
And somewhere along the line, on a bi-partisan basis, we became confused or lost sight of that ideal. The nation who served as a shining city on a hill for so many became but an election speech metaphor. And with bi-partisan support that's where it rests now it seems.
The healthcare reform debate as with so many other debates (stimulus funding anyone) will never be resolved until we decide who we are as a nation, a community, individually. Are we the nation whose open arms accepted immigrants yearning to be free, created a nation with them and their dreams to be free to pursue their lives not the lives of institutional interests, who created the greatest public educational system in the world, whose GI bill created a generation of college-educated leaders, and that together drove innovation and leadership and affluence and generosity and a few makeovers along the way and created a shining city on the hill for others, a beacon of hope, a dream they could reach?
Or are we the nation that turns that city on the hill into an empty storefront, mocking all who continue to believe in it, denying access to it for those unable to afford it? In essence, we choose to say: We've got our shiny city, now you get yours?
Once we figure out our values now as a nation, this healthcare reform will be a snap.
(And tip of the hat to the lobbyists for the healthcare industry for distracting us away from looking at what they have wrought. Their victory today will prove their defeat tomorrow. )