Wonderful fights between narcissism and worthlessness

Health Care and the Game of Politics

on September 14, 2012

I hate Medicare being discussed as a policy point with no fucking hint that anyone talking about it- politicians, talking heads, news media- realizes human beings use Medicare to seek medical treatment for either a better quallity of life or to literaly stay living when otherwise they would die. I also love how often medical bills are discussed in non-life-threatening terms, as though the choice between treating yourself and having credit to participate in our economy again has no weight and is “just money,” but then again it’s a news culture that can reference the idea of welfare queens as though it’s a construct like postal worker. It’s all about Medicare as a bargaining chip for budgets or votes.

Also, Mitt Romney lying about it. Fuck you. Good luck getting elected! Then please balance the budget on the backs of the elderly, poor, and most enfeebled among us.

It reveals the heart of modern politics in the United States; politics being so removed from the idea of different groups presenting different plans for improving the lives of their countrymen that a presidential candidate can run on repealing a law about healthcare without having ANY replacement for it and get people to vote for him.

This American Life has a great two-part series on the United States’ health care system and how it got this way, and it detailed the failings by the three major groups in health care: doctors, insurers, and us, the patients. It ran during the height of the health care debate before legislation was passed, and the most fascinating part of it was that it’s not just doctors, or us, or health insurers, although there are individuals in each group to blame. It’s all of us as a collective. and there are trends that are happening from each corner to cause the spiraling costs of health care. The piece somehow made me weep for the death of the HMO, which worked wonders for controlling costs but at the expense of patients’ demanded care. A death that coincided with the rise of doctors forming groups to raise prices and compete with insurers’ control as representatives of patients. The series also covers how, often, people demand treatments they don’t really need, and how most people would agree both that other people could get tested less, and that they do not receive too much care. They cite a study that found 33% of all medical testing done in the United States is unnecessary, and also presented a moving story of a doctor standing up to a patient’s father that outlined why giving each patient extraordinary testing is best for everyone involved in any individual case (a trend the doctor bucks), while the rest of the podcast details how everyone getting what they want is the main problem, and, basically, everyone needs to sacrifice. The two pieces ultimately made it abundantly clear that what we needed to reform health care in our country was control and restraints. Mostly of moneyed interests, but also of the groups involved so that people can seek out medical treatments and a country doesn’t come crashing down.

I still weep for the loss of any sort of public option from Obama’s health care reform law. It quickly became evident it just didn’t have a chance in our current political climate. See: the debate afterwards being “Repeal it!” “No, don’t repeal it! Noooo!” instead of any debate about strengthening it to provide for Americans or ways to improve parts of the current legislation (like cost control measures)(perhaps with a public option to compete at set prices?) and why their current iterations fail. It’s insane that for-profit, private insurance companies get to lobby lawmakers who set their regulations. That insanity happens at all levels, but we’re talking health care currently, so that’s the insanity I’ll focus on. I think there can be a place for lobbying in a better government than America has, but someone representing a company would never get to talk to a senator. Ideally, campaign finance reform would be long since completed, and a separate research body would have been set up specifically to research issues before they come up for debate or to perform research on pressing issues before legislation is drafted (fuck, there’s some jobs! Thank me later Washington). Lobbyists could present their data, and then it would be checked for fact and slant (research-wise, by divining if any profits would come to a company if their proposed solution to an issue was implemented if it’s at all unclear from research alone) alongside general research. There is always expertise that comes with working in a field, and there will always be room for that expertise, but experts are always (for now) people, who can be self-interested or motivated to craft a story from selected facts, and politicians (for [hopefully] now) are often not public servants first and are easily led astray by moneyed interests from providing for the public good. Our healthcare law could only occur in this political climate, a climate where reaching out to insurance companies for their ideas on their place in healthcare can be a real thing that really happens, and that should be a national embarassment.

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