I’m not sure there will be much new in this post, but I wanted to reiterate Steve Randy Waldman’s blog post regarding our massive healthcare costs. Waldman’s post, titled “Shame,” responds to Steven Brill’s long article on healthcare costs. Brill’s piece, while long, is very good, though I agree with Matt Yglesisas: the policy solutions he outlines don’t address the main problem.
But, I’m a bigger fan of Waldman’s response, which is pure disgust that we allow hospitals to rip off the most-needy in our society when an unfortunate health incident strikes:
The burden of citizenship is to share in, and hold people to account for, the injustices experienced by our neighbors. Alice was fucking ripped off to the tune of any semblance of economic and financial security she might ever have had at the very moment that her husband was dying of cancer. This is beyond awful. This is mortal sin in any religion worth the name. This is pure evil.
Our problem is not a matter of shitty policy arrangements. We have plenty of those. Whatever. Policy is a third-order pile of bullshit. Our problem is that it is a sick excuse for a society when this sort of ass-rape is relegated by custom and practice into the sphere of the “private”, the sort of bureaucratic struggle one quietly hires professionals to deal with and hides as much as possible from friends and coworkers.
There’s a bit more in his post (it’s not very long) and it’s definitely worth a read. Those hit by a health disaster are, in many cases, massively unlucky. Some may not have eaten healthily or exercised enough and thus have some responsibility for their poor health. But many unhealthy people don’t have huge heart attacks. They’re incredibly lucky and those that do get sick are unlucky. As for those people do live a healthy life and still get sick, they are incredibly unlucky.
So what do we do when all of these unlucky people go to the hospital and get treated? We throw a massive bill at them that wipes out their life savings and can leave debt hanging over their family for years. What type of society are we that allows this to happen? I’m just repeating Waldman here, but it’s worth repeating.
In a midterm for class a week ago, part of an essay I wrote implied that people are inherently selfish and care only about their own ends. It’s been an assumption economists have made for decades and I never really stopped to question it. My professor commented:
[T]he theory that all human beings are selfish is one of those bizarre dogmas that economists and political scientists are finally starting to abandon. There’s just no evidence for it, and all the evidence from behavioral game theory is quite opposed to it. People have a deep sense of fairness, and will take a personal loss to uphold fairness norms.
I’m not sure of the exact evidence he’s referring to it, but I certainly believe it. When I read Waldman’s post, that’s what I thought of. Human beings really aren’t inherently selfish, except it seems in the health care market. Hospitals, doctors, big pharma and every other part of the industry capture huge profits at the expense of the unlucky. And the rest of us? We mostly sit around and watch it happen. We call it a free market and blame unhealthy lifestyles instead of the cash-sucking industry itself. We empathize, but do nothing, caring more about our own time and life. Where’s the fairness here? Is that the type of society we want to be? I certainly don’t think so. It’s about time the rest of us, the lucky ones, start showing our unselfishness and stand up to the healthcare industry.
For a while, liberals stayed away from the term, but as the public as grown more and more accustomed to it, they have changed tactics.
I’m with Kevin Drum. I’ve never really had a problem with the term. I’ve never really seen what the problem is. And I somewhat agree with Drum when he writes “if ACA eventually becomes popular, then Obamacare will be a positive term. If it fails, then it will fade away. It’s that simple.”
I don’t think it’d fade away if the law fails. Conservatives will forever use it to remind the public that the Democrats tried and failed to reform health care. But I think there’s a better reason for liberals to use the term “Obamacare.” If (and when, in my opinion) the law succeeds and popularity for it soars, Obama and the Democrats deserve credit it.
And Democrats will receive a great share of that credit, but Republicans are not going to just let the Dems bask in the glory of the law without trying to gain some of that credit themselves. They may claim that the success of the law is because of the state-run exchanges, not the federal government. They may claim it’s a result of governors actually accepting the new Medicaid expansion. No matter what though, they are going to try to spin it more in their favor, no matter how hard that may be.
And under that scenario, ”Obamacare” would certainly disappear from the conservative lexicon. But it shouldn’t disappear from the public’s lexicon. After all, conservatives have used the word to attack Obama for the past 3+ years. Why should it disappear right when the law becomes successful?
In all likelihood, it wouldn’t. It’s likely too ingrained in the public image of the law to simply vanish just because it’s no longer a conservative talking point. But Democrats have proven inept at messaging the law and it’s not impossible for that to happen.
But Democrats and Obama deserve credit for the law if it succeeds. They cannot allow Republican messaging to diminish the fact that the Democrat plan worked. So how do we prevent that from happening? By calling it “Obamacare” now. Make sure the name is even more embedded in the public discourse. Make sure Democrats are used to using the term. Support the law and build a positive message around the term. And don’t back away from it if (and when) it succeeds. That’s how you ensure that Obama and Democrats get credit.
It starts by accepting the term now and I’m glad to see Democrats (finally) doing that. (Image Via)
A lot of political reporters have commented on the Kaiser Family Foundation poll released today with numbers in the aftermath of the Supreme Court upholding the Affordable Care Act. Overall, Americans seem to want the opponents of the law to move on and support for the law has moved slightly in the Democrats’ favor, though it really has not changed much.
There was one graph that immediately jumped out at me though:
Democrats who have a very favorable opinion of the bill has skyrocketed from before the health care decision until afterwards, up from 31 percent to 47%. In fact, Democrats have never had a more favorable opinion of the bill. What does this mean? Probably nothing, the economy will be the main focus come November and health care won’t have an affect, but it has to be nice for Obama to finally see some appreciation from Democrats for his health care bill.
The poll also finds that the decision makes Democrats 18 percent more likely to vote and Republicans 31 percent. I would imagine that the rise in Democrats who have a very favorable opinion of the law would make them more likely to vote, but conservative hatred of the law is a stronger driver of votes than liberal approval of it. I will be highly surprised if it actually matters in the presidential election, but interesting nonetheless (especially on a slow news day).