Depressing Health Care Debate

THIS CATHOLIC’S VIEW By Thomas J. Reese, S.J. Watching Washington debate health care reform is a depressing experience. President Obama … Continued

THIS CATHOLIC’S VIEW

By Thomas J. Reese, S.J.

Watching Washington debate health care reform is a depressing experience. President Obama has laid out the principles necessary for reform–covering the uninsured and paying for it through cost reductions–but has not proposed specific legislative language to perform this miracle.

Meanwhile, Congressional Democrats are proposing immediate expansions of coverage with promises of cost savings in the future. Republicans are playing spoiler: pointing out the flaws in the Democratic plans while not proposing anything useful.

The problem is that voters prefer lies to truth. Doctors still believe that they should be treated like gods with offerings of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Hospitals want to continue business as usual but just be given more money. Patients want a doctor with Welby’s charm and McCoy’s technology. Oh, yes, and it is to be cheap with no government regulations or insurance forms.

Health care reform, like dieting, is painful. Anyone who tells you differently is lying. It requires a change in expectations and life style. The only reason to do it is because we have no choice, just as we have to leave behind the gas-guzzling SUV’s and cigarettes. Obama is right, we cannot afford the status quo with health care costs increasing as a percentage of the GNP while fewer people are insured.

While Washington debates health care, another study reports that obesity may have cost the health care system $147 billion in 2008. Now if Republicans really believed in the marketplace, they would propose charging fat people more for health insurance. Same for smokers, gun owners, and heavy drinkers. Liberals, on the other hand, believe that education and public service ads will convert these folks into abstemious anorexics who are only addicted to exercise.

Is depression covered by this plan? Where is my happy pill?

By Thomas J. Reese | 
July 28, 2009; 2:33 PM ET

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  • Paganplace

    Not sure that’s particularly helpful. Though the Republicans are pretty attached to making sure that the biggest factor in health care costs isn’t addressed: insurance companies and Big Pharma making big profits and being subsidized by the government and systems (or lack of systems) to do it. It was said by a prominent GOPer that the public option should be opposed *because* of what’s been denied all along: that it’d be cheaper. Fourty percent cheaper, according to him. Of course, he thought that people would rather spend however many hours it might take working for several thousand extra dollars a year to hand to a private insurance company to gamble with on the real estate market.. To avoid a possible hour’s wait in a waiting room… As if that isn’t the reality for most people, (Maybe the ones who don’t get the gold card) already.The real issue is profiteering, the administrative costs of the for-profit games, the fact that private insurers have the practice of taking people’s money and then refusing to cover them if they actually get ill, dumping the liabilities onto the taxpayers and families of those thus ripped-off…These are the things which take people’s money, prevent them from having jobs, take their life savings our of the economy, exacerbate bankruptcy and foreclosure problems… And of course increase human suffering and the costs of the uninsured to our national wealth. It’s the profiteering. Funny how the ‘champions of capitalism’ don’t want to even *compete* with a public option. Cause all their fears of ‘socialized medicine’ are really just fears of losing wealth for a few. They’ve had us all over a barrel way too long.

  • ccnl1

    Father Reese noted:”While Washington debates health care, another study reports that obesity may have cost the health care system $147 billion in 2008. Now if Republicans really believed in the marketplace, they would propose charging fat people more for health insurance. Same for smokers, gun owners, and heavy drinkers.”Bravo!!! Add to that charging more (or not covering)for treatment of STDs which as per the CDC costs $14+ billion/year.And then there is this:”The tobacco industry is one of the most profitable businesses in the country, making billions of dollars every year. But the costs of smoking are far higher than the income from cigarette sales. Smoking causes more than $196 billion each year in health-related costs, including the cost of lost productivity caused by deaths from smoking. Smoking-related medical costs averaged more than $100 billion each year between 2000 and 2004. This translates to $2,197 in extra medical expenses for each adult smoker per year as of 2004. Death-related productivity losses from smoking among workers cost the US economy more than $97 billion yearly (average for 2000-2004). For each pack of cigarettes sold or given away in 2004, $5.34 was spent on medical care caused by smoking, and $5.28 lost in productivity, for a total cost to society of $10.62 per pack. “

  • James210

    Holistic Healing does have it’s benefits.It takes courage to reject conventional medicine.My sister in spirit is a teacher and works in “health care” . We discussed one day the “cash for presciption program” that many doctors have. To my surprize, she came back and said yes, it occurs.I am not scared to say, I sent a message, and made the doctors think. The elderly, are often taken advantaged of through bad doctors(drug companies). The devastating effects of long term, prescription abuse is something I often, try to enlighten people on.J

  • ccnl1

    Hmmm, James210 ????

  • post_reader_in_wv

    I am an American centrist, which puts me considerably to the right of communists and even socialists. But when I think about health care reform I become positively leftist in this sense: 1) I think the “free enterprise” model (that is, with a significant–and controlling-number of the players being in it for profit) has had a very long run and is a conspicuous failure; 2) I think BASIC health care IS a right, just like publicly-funded education is a right.We may have to start from square one to get this right, and that means we are almost certainly doomed to failure this time around. Does this mean some sort of single-payer system? I don’t know, but I think so. I’m unpersuaded that any adjusted version of the current system won’t quickly drift back into the abuses which got us to this point in the first place.Yes, I’ve heard all the shrieking about the failures of government-run enterprises, and I concede that there are kernels of truth in the concerns expressed. And yet nobody warning us about the evils of government-funded health care ever seems to mention that we have single-payer national defense. I agree that national defense and security defense on all levels of government is a legitimate expense. I also think we’ve reached the point at which we need to think about health care in a similar light.So call me a commie. It won’t be true, but you’ll find it emotionally satisfying . . .

  • globalone

    “These are the things which take people’s money, prevent them from having jobs, take their life savings our of the economy, exacerbate bankruptcy and foreclosure problems… And of course increase human suffering and the costs of the uninsured to our national wealth”Good grief. Did this country become great because its citizens were weak, scared individuals who needed a government crutch whenever things became difficult? The hard is what makes it good.We have foreclosures and bankruptcy because people make bad decisions. Period. It’s not a conspiracy by the rich boogeymen. There was not a single person, that I’m aware of, with a bad mortgage that was forced at gunpoint to submit to the terms. (And please don’t take this to mean that the lending institutions don’t share in some blame, because they do).

  • CalSailor

    Universal health care is a right which belongs to each of us through our membership in the human race, not our ability to pay. What really angers me is that there is NO justification for the current system of insurance companies, which exist to keep costs down (via denial of care, rationing, etc.,), pay huge salaries to the company leadership, and make contributions to Congressional reps who will safeguard the continued relationship.We have 3 healthcare programs in this country which work very well: Medicare (which needs help on getting drug coverage improved, however. This is due to Congress’s incredible legislation limiting them to the donut hole…), TRICARE (the medical care system for active duty military and retirees and their families, and Veterans Health care program. ALL THREE of these are single payer programs, and the VA system, which Bill Kristol called “first rate” is not only single payer, but single provider. We also have the Canadian system (which is a very good medical care as a system…delays are due to level of funding issues and are not binding on us if we devise a similiar system) as a potential model.Today, Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) filed a bill to kill Medicare, effective immediately (he wants his fellow Representatives to think about what this might mean). Tomorrow he files a bill to go to a genuine single payer program. He had THE most cogent question yet: What positive role do the insurance companies pay in our system…besides adding nearly 30% in costs? What, exactly do the companies add to the quality of our system? (His answer: Nothing.)I have another question: IF the Canadian system is as bad as Republicans make it out to be, why do the Canadians fight so hard to prevent anyone from taking it away from them?Let’s have TRUE health care reform.Pr Chris

  • ccnl1

    Hmmm, New World is one of the strangest of the new/old? order coming out of the world of probability waves!!

  • rmkraus

    Father Reese, all those flippant remarks about healthcare contributed absolutely nothing to a resolution of the matter.rmk, akron