Health Care

The long-debated healthcare reform bill passed tonight. The reactions I’ve seen have ranged from joy, to fear, to anger, to certainty that America is going down the socialist toilet even faster than before. I’d like to weigh in.

I am against this healthcare reform bill. But I am not against healthcare reform. I just don’t believe this bill is right. The most important crisis facing America today is not healthcare; it’s unemployment. In my mind, that should be apparent to everyone. Of course, it’s not and I realize it’s arrogant for me to think everyone should think the way I do.

This bill is, in my humble opinion, too expensive. This bill will require business owners to spend so much on required healthcare revisions, that they will be forced to put off investing that money into growing their businesses, and therefore putting off hiring people who need work. The unemployment rate in America is absolutely ridiculous  – no, let me correct that; it’s absolutely shameful. It’s shameful that unemployment is what it is, and our leadership has been somehow sucked into making a choice tonight that will result in millions more jobs being lost, and are going home tonight patting each other on the backs thinking they’ve done a good thing. They didn’t. They screwed up.

So, I think the bill is bad. But, I still think we need healthcare reform, desperately. I’m thinking of close friends who faced a life-threatening disease a few years ago, and in the process of fighting it (and beating it, thank  God), they lost nearly everything. These are responsible, kind, hard-working, creative, amazing people. They were and still are an example to me of financial wisdom – and they still lost nearly everything.

There are of course many other examples of people whose present coverage doesn’t go far enough, or who aren’t able to get coverage, and many other problems that are, admittedly, too big for me to think about. I do not, repeat, do not advocate a national healthcare system where a government-run system is the provider. That would be stupid. There’s absolutely nothing in our history that indicates the government is capable of handling large complex organizations with anything approaching efficiency. So, that’s out.

I also don’t think this business of requiring people to have medical insurance is reasonable. Proponents of this idea compare it to auto insurance, and say stuff like, “Well, we require people to get auto insurance don’t we? This is kind of like that.” No it’s not. Not even close. If I don’t have car insurance and I cause an accident, there’s a good chance that someone else’s property or life will be hurt by my accident, and I’m going to have to be able to cover them. However, if I don’t have health insurance and I get sick, no one else is going to be damaged because I got sick. I’m not likely to have a liability issue with anyone because of my shingles or whatever I have. So the whole “make everyone buy health insurance” thing is dumb.

But that doesn’t change the fact that significant numbers of people are falling through the cracks, not getting the care they need, and I’d like to believe that at least some of that could be addressed through better regulation. I’m not saying the government needs to take over healthcare. I’m just saying the government needs to step up here and fix the parts that are broken, without dumping the whole baby.

I realize that this little post may confuse some people, because we tend to either love this kind of stuff or hate it, in total. But I’m a guy who feels a lot of compassion for people who are struggling financially over sickness – not their fault – and feels that we are compelled morally to do something about that. At the same time, I’m a guy who has observed the government in action for many decades, under both major parties,  and that observation makes me wary of seeing them get involved in anything else. Ever.

But, something has to be done anyway. It’s time for something to happen to that bill before it gets to the President, like maybe the guy delivering it could stop at Starbucks with it first, and spill something on it, and have to go get a new one printed up, and then there could be printer issues. Something. But we need to slow this baby down and think, because what we did tonight was crazy.

P.S. – Comments are open, for all views. But if you’re a jerk, your comment will disappear.

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10 Responses to Health Care

  1. Miss Cindy :) says:

    Nicely done, Charley. : )

  2. Couldn’t have said it better myself.

  3. Mark says:

    Charley, I very much appreciate your compassion and level-headedness about this subject. Both seem to have been in very short supply during this entire discussion, unfortunately, from many Christians. I have been so heartbroken over the lack of compassion I hear about this issue, as well as the mis-information (and outright lies) being passed around.

    How hard it has been to find a truly Christ-focused (not republican, not conservative, not liberal, not democratic) discussion of how best to handle the complex issues and possible solutions, and to be around people who want to pray for wisdom for our leaders (of BOTH parties) instead of castigating them.

    Is this bill perfect? By no means. But I don’t think there’s a perfect solution out there, at least not one that could pass through the legislature as it exists today. I do not agree with all of it by far, but I find a lot in it that I think will probably bring some of the reform we need. Maybe someone will spill coffee on the bad parts.

    Expensive? Sure. But remember the first stimulus plan… passed in about three days while Bush was still President? The amount of that was $700 billion and went only to bail out Wall Street firms. This entire healthcare bill is $940 billion, spread out over 10 years. That’s 94 billion a year, equal to about 4 percent of what is already spent in healthcare in a year, and will cover 30 million more people. That doesn’t seem so out of line when compared to all of the monopoly money passing hands these days.

    Oh, and why require people to have medical insurance? Because for one, if they don’t, they go to expensive Emergency Departments of public hospitals and cost us taxpayers way too much money for the limited care they get. And, secondly, because without that requirement to bring younger, healthier people into the insurance marketplace, some of the other reforms (like not allowing pre-existing conditions as a barrier to insurance), just won’t work, and would make insurance way too expensive for the rest us. It’s all a trade-off.

    Sorry, I wrote way too much, but thanks for provoking this discussion, and for your compassionate heart!

    I’ll pray for your shingles.

  4. Leon says:

    A well-thought out piece on a complex and difficult subject.

  5. Ken says:

    Mark, thanks for that response. While I tend to lean to the right and disagree with just about every aspect of this Health Reform Bill (timing, cost, content, way it passed, etc.), I also disagreed with both previous bailouts, including W’s $700b bailout of Wall Street. We’ve since had the many billions bailout of automobile industry, the $832 billion stimulus, and now this.

    Has any of them worked? Not really. Wall Street is still not loaning like it had been and is very conservative otherwise, American auto industry is still perilously close to extinction (save Ford who borrowed NOTHING from Uncle Sam), and unemployment is still rampant after the stimulus, worse even than before. Has the government ever kept itself within budget cost when talking about them running a program, whether defense, IRS, Medicare/Medicaid, Social Security, et al? State governments are run as well as if not better than-my opinion only-Federal government.

    Then we look at the history of the world and we see where universal health care has NEVER worked, for anyone in any country. The definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over and expecting different results.

    This bill, again my opinion but believe time will bear out, is the low point for American Government. The madness that Uncle Sam is Santa Claus has to stop. It was never meant to be anything but the Land of Opportunity, not The Land of Free Money, Health Care, Government Intervention.

  6. Mark says:

    So what do we do to address the people who slip through the cracks that Charley so eloquently talked about?

    Should churches lay off youth pastors and hire a nurse practitioner instead to provide basic medical care to church members? Should Saddleback build a hospital on their campus instead of another worship venue? These are real questions. Is there a church response to this issue, so that government doesn’t have to step in? Because, clearly, the status quo isn’t working.

  7. Lisa Sanchez says:

    Wow!! Great food for thought Charley and Mark

  8. Allison says:

    Amen!

  9. Steve Yarosko says:

    I have nothing new to add to the discussion, but I am going to type away anyway with a couple anecdotal facts. A day or so after the bill passed, one of our company legal directors sent out an email to all employees. Basically it said that the new law is going be more expensive for my company to cover employee health benefits. It doesn’t take a lot of brain cells to read between the lines of that email. The ramifications are that more folks are going to lose their jobs at my company, our company sponsored health care is going to be more expensive or there will be cutbacks on what is covered in the future. So, I don’t see how this law is good for me or any of the 900,000 people that work for my company (a number that grows smaller everyday). At the same time I know people who had to sell their house to pay medical expenses. Something has to be done as Charley said, but the law that passed seems anti-business in so many ways. I wish certain health care companies were not public companies with short-sighted financial goals (I just added something new to the discussion, sorry about that). As stated earlier, this is such a complex subject with no easy answer. I wish there was a better way to solve it than leaving it up to the politicians.

  10. Ralph Prieto says:

    Charlie,
    Very good points. I for 1 am for health care, but for biased reasons. I am a diabetic, who has lost his livelyhood because of my diabetes. I cannot and should not drive a truck anymore. So, now I am among the ranks of the unemployed…statistically. I have taken the role of stay at home dad, which is what I’m good at these days.
    I do have insurance, and am lucky that my insurance did not have a pre-existing clause. The problem here, is I had a juggling act to perform with meds before the insurance kicks in (Thursday). It was tough, but I am going to make it. I feel bad for those of us who are not lucky enough to have a spouse who can provide insurance through their work.
    I don’t agree with everything Obama does, but who can agree with everything their president does. I did vote for him and still stand by my decision. What I can’t abide, is all the hate speak directed towards him and congress regarding this bill. We are all, or are classified as adults. The response to this new law should be cooler than it is. Your blog is the first level headed responce to the new lawI’ve seen. Thanks for your insight.
    Ralph

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