awkwardly

Friday

Health care spin phrases endorsed by Deidzoeb

Here are a few expressions I've heard lately that put a better spin on health care "reform". You've certainly heard "Death Panel", which is the idea of government bureaucrats who might determine that some procedures are too expensive to try on people who are too old or unlikely to live, as if we don't have a kind of health care rationing right now. (Read Peter Singer's Why We Must Ration Health Care, not only for solid reasons why, but for a reality check pointing out that rationing is done now, why it will always be necessary in a pre-Singularity universe of humans with limited time and resources.)

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart joked about the "death panel" idea, but coined another expression to put it into perspective. "Private death panel" is the idea of bureaucrats who work for companies, deciding how to ration health care, which people will live or die. That's not a fantasy scenario about what might happen if politicians screw up health care policies. That's the current system we are all in now, one with private death panels. At least with government "death panels" and rationing, the bureaucrats would be distantly accountable to voters, instead of being accountable to corporate shareholders.

Ralph Nader called the status quo a "pay-or-die system that has plagued this country for decades, a system that takes 20,000 lives a year, according to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences." (From his appearance today on Democracy Now.)

Please use those slanted, in my opinion accurate, shorthand terms when you're stuck talking with people who think the status quo is awesome, or tolerable, or preferable to single-payer universal health care.

PS - A few more.

* Just the headline in this one (taken from a demonstrator's sign) should get people thinking: Who Would Jesus Insure?

* "Kindergarten Insurance" mentioned by Pulitzer Prize winning journalist David Cay Johnston on Democracy Now back in February.

"I mean, why do we need to have health insurance? Do we have kindergarten insurance? Do we have police insurance? Do we have road insurance? . . .

". . . Our competitors, the Canadians, the Europeans, the Japanese, the Australians, etc., in all other modern countries, the costs of healthcare are on the books of society, and you don’t insure for that, because this isn’t a risk you’re insuring for; it’s a cost. You know what it will be every year from the size and age of the population. . . .

"And they don’t have doctors devoting hours and hours to cost accounting. We don’t make kindergarten teachers do cost accounting, or police officers or prosecutors. Why do we have doctors doing cost accounting? Because a narrow band of people have become fabulously, unbelievably fabulously wealthy off of this enormously inefficient system we have in America, which doesn’t fit with the principles of capitalism."

Also think about fire departments. You might have insurance to cover the cost of your home or car or valuables if they're destroyed in a fire, but the local police department doesn't ask for your insurance info before fighting the fire, or bill your insurance for it. Why is one of these widely accepted by the US public as a necessary service that the government should regulate and pay for, but the other has to be kept out of government hands because they'd screw it up? If they screw up health care so badly, shouldn't we take the fire department, police and military out of government control and let private companies do it? I don't want to reductio ad absurdam, but at least reduce it to a consistent policy.

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