Knickers in a Twist Over Health Care Reform

by Debra Kozikowski


We have talked and talked and talked about fixing health care for decades. And we have finally reached a point where inaction is no longer an option-where the choice to defer reform is nothing more than a decision to defend the status quo … I will not defend the status quo.” – President Barack Obama, July 16, 2009

A majority of Americans couldn’t agree more. But the devil is in the details and one of those details is the creation of a public insurance plan, AKA a public option. A public option would allow anyone to voluntarily enroll in a government run plan, and the creation of a public plan has become more than a main concern for liberal activists. It’s become the main concern.

Personally, I support a single payer system, but that ain’t gonna happen so I come down hard on the side of the public option for a whole bunch of reasons of what it should do. It should guarantee affordable, reliable coverage to everybody; promote cost control, and lead to reforms on how we pay for medical care. It should promote healthy competition with private insurers, keeping them honest, as my grandmother used to say, and hopefully encourage better performance.

A strong public option should do all of those things and more.

Health care reform advocates are wary of the insurance industry and that distrust causes many to balk at reform that relies too heavily on private coverage.  Even coverage through non-profit corporations is suspect. Skeptical activist worker bees are reform’s most fervent supporters-making phone calls, knocking on doors, and showing up at rallies. They tend to be single payer supporters who need something to hope for and a public option is the closest compromise that makes sense enough to get them ready to rumble when it comes to supporting the latest reform efforts.

There is another way to look at it.  A public option can be used as a control.  Here’s the definition:

Typically controls are used to investigate the effect of a variable on a particular system. In a controlled experiment one set of samples is modified and the other set of samples are either expected to show no change (negative control) or expected to show a definite change (positive control).

Given that our intent with health care reform is to create a system that is better for everyone from Day One, we would have to adjust our model to reach for better and not be utilizing any placebos.  We are all aware that the suspicion of reform opponents is that care will be more costly and less available, especially with a public option. Many believe big government is the problem and the bureaucracy that develops around public programs is reason enough to scrap any public option.  A public option is a means to prove or disprove theory with data unique to America’s reform package.

Touting pragmatism was the motive, there was talk behind Senate committee closed doors of substituting a “trigger” that would create a public option in say, ten years, and only if the insurance industry fails to meet certain criteria for reform. Statements like that are what get knickers in a twist over what does or doesn’t equal true health care reform.

There are questions from as far back as April that remain unanswered.

Limits on out-of-pocket spending–and what will those limits be? Guarantees about getting reasonably good benefits for everybody are primary concerns. Or will people still end up taking out insurance with burdensome cost-sharing and inadequate coverage for mental health, dental treatment and other habitually neglected services? Will a financial hit to the insurance industry profits level the playing field for people who can’t afford to pay or will people with higher incomes feel penalized unfairly in providing the means to significant reform?

If we’re able to stop Obama on this it will be his Waterloo. It will break him.” – South Carolina Republican Senator Jim DeMint, July 17, 2009

My grandmother had a great cliché for that too. Another country heard from, she’d say.  The background noise seems to be trying to take over the greater conversation. Yet another reason to secure a public option as a control. Not to mention that illness doesn’t know Democrats from Republicans when they are wheezing and coughing or worse. It will help as we move forward to create something dependable in the long run and as seamlessly as possible.

Complicated issues don’t necessarily fall neatly along ideological fault lines and government-run insurance represents an easy division: it is everything the left loves and the right hates. So politics gets in the way of making sure real people get real help when it comes to affordable access to health care.

Time to untwist those knickers on both sides and get cracking on making sure real help is on the way.

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5 Responses to “Knickers in a Twist Over Health Care Reform”

  1. […] See post here:  Knickers in a Twist Over Health Care Reform […]

  2. Nearly split my gut laughing at the headline.

    It’s a perfect description for the way the people at these town hall meetings are acting. The “birth-ers’ about the president’s not being natural born, the “death-ers’ about health care reform equaling euthanasia are all about disruption.  That’s it. Disruption. All because their collective knickers are so twisted (along with their good sense and manners it appears) about having last year’s election not go their way.

  3. you are a breath of fresh air on this subject!!!!!!

  4. The town hall meetings are getting more and more out of hand. Hopefully it will backfire and people will recoil from the over the top arguments and threats to our well-being as Americans.

  5. Really educational – always spread the word. Looking forward to an update. For too long now have I had the need to begin with my own blog. Suppose if I wait around any more I’ll never take action. I’ll be sure to add you to my Blogroll. Thanks again!!

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