Thursday, December 14, 2006

Just a few stray thoughts

Just a few stray thoughts on the Wyden healthcare plan.

From what I understand previous attempts at universal healthcare were torpedoed because they raised (or were twisted so as to raise) the specter of people being forced into purely socialized medicine, deprived on any choice as to their doctor. While it may not accurately describe the actual practice of medicine these days, I think there is a great appeal for many in the notion of a family doctor, a neighborly person who cares for the entire family for generations. The power of this image is powerful. Just as I wrote earlier that efficiency is viewed with a nearly religious zeal in the U.S. so too is choice. Given the power and appeal of choice in nearly all aspects of politics it makes little sense to propose policies which would limit choice. This is the brilliance of the Wyden plan, instead of ensuring quality care by constricting choice, it expands choice while guaranteeing that all options meet a basic level of care. Everyone has choice and agency, but the options from which they may choose all provide a fair and fitting level of services, this prevents people from being duped or suffering for lack of information and acumen. I'm struggling for a fitting analogy. It's a little like the difference between the government bowling for you and the government setting up bumpers. Few people want the government to make decisions for them, but ensuring that the suite of options available all meet a certain appropriate standard seems right. Think of FDA certification of meats. I don't need the FDA as my shopping buddy telling me what to get, I'd rather know that I can select from options each of which will be safe and appropriate.

People seem to, in all things, like choice. It's a nearly elemental desire. So instead of fighting against that desire the Wyden plan embraces that desire. Instead of fighting against the relentless tide, Wyden uses that energy like a surfer. Takes the desire for choice and agency and makes that the appeal of the plan, makes that the momentum that carries people forward.

In the end it's hard to argue with a proposal that gives Americans that tools necessary to care for themselves, and their children. It's hard to be against legislation that takes as its highest goal making it affordable for Americans to live longer, healthier lives. Think of the additional progress and prosperity that can be generated by an America where men and women can work and strive without fear of crippling healthcare costs. There's no way to calculate that economic benefit, because somethings really do transcend monetary measure.

No comments: