Is an ounce of prevention worth a pound of cure? The president is failing to persuade me
I’m already on record with my position on health care reform. Every American should have health care insurance. Reform is needed to rein in costs that are sky-rocketing at a faster rate than our economy can sustain. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the United States public expenditures on health care exceed other OECD countries per capita, even though the public share of health expenditures is lower here than in those countries. These countries include-Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, the Slovak Republic, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. All of these countries have some form of universal health coverage. Simply put: We spend more than those countries on health care and get less for our money in terms of quality and efficiency. Several other factors play a part in our failing health care system. The most prominent are our high levels of obesity and chronic illness, insurance companies making exorbitant profits at the expense of the consumer, and pharmaceutical companies that keep prices high for their products. The system is crumbling and by the year 2050, will account for 12% of our Gross Domestic Product.
President Obama is correct in his thinking. We must reform a health care system that is antiquated, expensive, inefficient, and ineffective. I not persuaded by his argument though. Why? I just don’t think the president has made the case sufficiently to the American people. For reasons I’m not certain of, he seems oddly detached from the process. For this type of landmark legislation, the president needs to be fully engaged in every aspect. He needs to develop his own plan, and dictate to congress how it will be implemented. The president needs to be decisive about how it will be paid for, rejecting calls from various groups about what is fair or unfair. He needs to use the power of his office to state that the United States must reassert its moral authority, and do what is in the best interests of our country. He needs to put this debate into terms that real Americans can understand and follow. He needs to tell us that this is hard and frightening, but the alternative will be much worse. The sacrifices that we all will be called to make are necessary not only to protect all Americans, but to equip our nation with the tools necessary to compete and succeed in the future. Our viability as the preeminent economic superpower will suffer due to inaction. I don’t see him forcefully telling people that he’s trying to protect all of them, not just the uninsured.
I’m not naive enough to believe that this potential reform would be changing a significant portion of American life as we know it. It would be a tremendous overhaul, and change of how we live our lives. Most Americans have health insurance that they are happy with. The challenge is to make them see that they play a part in reshaping and retooling a system that will benefit them, as well as the uninsured. To do that, you need to have clear, well-thought out ideas that don’t shift as the wind blows. He needs to be brutally honest with the American people. Tell them about loss and sacrifice. Tell them what they don’t want to hear. Be clear, concise and forceful. Make them feel like you care about them and this reform. I’m not convinced he is doing that. I think the president is shrinking at a time when giants are needed.