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Health Care: A Response to Ellie

Earlier, Ellie Dworak posted about healthcare, noting that for her, “This is a really hard one to have a conversation about without getting emotional.”

She listed her concerns “as a token conservative librarian,” and I state my responses below.

“It’s too expensive. Just because something is a nice idea doesn’t mean that we can afford it as a nation. Now, this one is arguable, I’m not sure if it’s the case.”

What we have now is breathtakingly expensive and not getting any cheaper. We’re paying a lot for health care in this country.

“The Obama administration is not being forthright about their plans. I worry that the regulations they are passing are in place to put private insurance out of business so that we only have a public option.”

It’s hard to argue with the “fifth column” argument, but let me try. Obama has shown a lot of openness to business in his short time in office. He’s helped bail out Wall Street, and he hasn’t imposed any draconian plans.

Social Security didn’t put private pension plans out of business. I have faithfully contributed to private plans for many of my working years. What Social Security did was provide a safety net so that America’s workers weren’t beholden to a private model.

I see the public option as changing behavior through market pressure — exactly what a conservative should be looking for, right?

“If we only have a public option, our medical system will no longer be the most innovative in the world. While it’s true that we are not a particularly healthy nation, this is the country where you want to live if you have the misfortune of getting very ill. My son died (and yes, the bills were terrible, even with insurance) and I was comforted by the fact that he has incredible, amazing, cutting edge care by a team of neurosurgeons, respiratory therapists, etc.”

I’m sorry for your son’s death, and I’m glad he had good care. But innovation isn’t limited to the U.S. system, and it’s also no guarantee that those who have the “misfortune of getting very ill” will get good treatment. Some will, and some won’t. Besides, even countries with good health care for all have innovation. Stephen Hawkings is a product of the British health care system.

“It isn’t morally right to require people (who may not believe in our western medical system) to purchase medical coverage.”

What about people who don’t believe in our home insurance system… or who don’t agree with driving rules?

From my family’s point of view, “requiring” health coverage is equal to “allowing” health coverage. I think you and I differ in whether we believe healthcare coverage is a basic human right and an economically wise path. We can agree to disagree, of course.

“I also want to say that I think you are misinterpreting the people who “compare” Obama to Hitler. I think what people who bring this up are saying is that we need to be cautious to honor our constitution because even Hitler was elected.”

I really don’t see the people carrying Hitler posters making such a nuanced argument. What I see is anger and hatred (and some racism).

“We do not live in a pure Democracy, and I do not want to (if so, the majority always rules, and that’s scary – what if the majority hates gay people?). We live in a Republic, and one that’s predicated on basic rights and freedoms. And even when that is problematic, it is important, crucial even.”

Democracies–pure or otherwise–are living, growing things. There was a time when it was considered outlandish for women to vote. For black people to own homes in “white” neighborhoods. Things change. We can change about health care.

“That said, all of the problems you bring up are indeed problems, and I would like to see solutions. I would like to be able to discuss solutions without being called out as a right wing nut. And I want to be respectful and kind.”

I’d like to discuss solutions without being labeled a Nazi or a Communist. I’d like to be heard. I know that our broken health care system needs repair. I would like people to listen to the ideas being shared with an open mind.

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