Criticizing the Health Care Plan

I am not remotely an expert on healthcare.  Truth be told, I’ve also not followed the news on Obama’s health care plan the last few days because I’m tired of the noise.  However, I feel this should be said:

If someone criticizes an aspect of (or the entirety of) the proposed health care plan, it does not necessarily follow that said person hates humanity, does not believe people should have health care coverage, isn’t following Jesus, and/or is a racist, unthinking moron.  Maybe they hold to many of the same values as the people in favor of the healthcare plan and simply differ on the best way to reach it.

I should also add that calling those in favor of the health plan radical socialists, bleeding-heart liberals and/or encouraging them to move to Canada is not particularly helpful, either.

If we think about the long-term effects of such a plan, it’s in everyone’s best interest to debate this issue with every bit of passion we have, and with every opinion, thought and idea on the table.  It would also be incredibly helpful if we could remember our manners.  Conviction and tact are not incompatible.


  1. 1. I fully agree. We don’t like when people caricature us. Let’s not do it to hers.

    2. I think the reason why the opponents of healthcare, at this juncture, are bing labeled as heartless is because they’ve failed to articulate to the American people why inaction (or different yet-to-be-disclosed action) is better for the 47 million people who are uninsured. It’s hard to convince people you care when you’re yelling about your wallet in front of a dying man.

    3. Most of this, in my humble opinion, stems from the fact that we don’t ever engage the other. We live in a world where we can watch like-minded people on tv, read like-minded books and websites, go to church with like-minded people, etc. We have so much choice that we often choose what is easier. And since we don’t actually know these people who oppose our ideologies, we have an easy time demonizing them.

  2. Well played. Agreed.

  3. I think you are right that conversations should be civil and tactful. However, that is difficult to do for me at times, as a supporter of health care reform, when I hear opponents repeat soundbites from Fox News or the latest Republican email and do not offer any alternative that will actually get coverage to people who don’t have it and make it more affordable for those of us who do.

    For me it also comes down to values – and people who sound like Fox News drones do not share my values and it is incredibly difficult to have a discussion with them about an issue that I am passionate about and affects me personally and professionally.

  4. Good thoughts, all. Luke, I’m trying to avoid the pitfall of “we must do something, therefore anything will do!” because it will likely make us rush into a plan that may or may not be helpful, sustainable or even address the real problems long-term. I agree with you, though- the biggest issue right now is that the other side of the aisle hasn’t come up with any alternative plan, which makes their critiques even harder to take.

    Tql- I realize that being civil and gracious is difficult, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it. I’m also pretty certain those “Fox news drones” find your (assumed) appreciation for CNN and the Democrats equally distasteful to their values. As a person who follows Jesus, I’m not sure calling anyone made in God’s image a drone is the best way to begin a conversation, much less win them over to your set of values. I think speaking from your passion rather than your anger is a better bet.

  5. The other side hasn’t come up with a plan??? Really??? Have you listened to the “drone” at all? Tort reform. Better oversight of private care (as opposed to single payer). Portability that doesn’t discriminate on pre-existing conditions. COBRA as part of unemployment benefits. Rush Limbaugh suggested simply taking a minuscule portion of the stimulus money and buying health insurance for a year for the 20 million or so uninsured who are here legally. All of the above would either lower costs or expand coverage.

    The “other side” is willing to contribute ideas, but the party in power doesn’t want to hear them, and since they don’t need bi-partisan support, they’re not really trying to draft a bi-partisan plan.

  6. Well, my passion does fuel anger – especially when I am in a hospital with my uninsured mother whose been here for 3 days…. And though it leads to anger, I also have learned to temper it. So, I am not going to apologize for my anger.

    Most people that I engage in conversations about health care reform, who are outside of my admittedly wonky world, don’t come with other alternatives. They merely are repeating soundbites that they hear on Fox News and talk radio. I know, because I listen to those stations as well – and can spot a soundbite from a mile away. Their opinions are not informed and they take what they hear as the gospel truth. They can choose to be insulated and, like Luke said above, merely listen to people who they agree with and don’t have to enter into other people’s worlds. Those are conversations that I have great difficulty having without resulting to utter frustration and considering them drones on this particular topic.

    To your point, Kenton, I have heard Limbaugh’s plan and others and have debated and discussed, and even strategized with other consevative friends and colleagues in the industry on BOTH sides. Sometimes, we walk away having learned something from one another and even agreeing with some of the others’ points. And, for the most part these conversations do have a civil tone and language to them. They are difficult conversations, and I enjoy dialogue. I think that is often because of how we approach the conversation – engaged and informed. Most people in the public square on health care, and many other issues, aren’t. They are reactionary – reacting to what they hear instead of discerning and investigating it.

    I do think that Tort reform and eliminating pre-existing conditions exclusions, and making coverage portable will help, they will not ultimately make health insurance reform affordable to many who are low-wage working individuals. So, until they can show how those needed policy shifts can really make coverage affordable for folks who care for our children or our elders for example – then, there is only so far that I can truly consider their proposals as a solution.

  7. tql-

    I’m sorry to hear about your mother. I hope things work out.

    Your desire to have affordable health care for everyone is commendable, and I share that desire. There are some very real economic concerns. It is a zero sum game. Adding 20 or 40 million people to the system will result in rationing the current resources. There’s no way around it. Adding a bureaucracy on top will make everything more expensive. There’s no way around it. Adding a public option will result in every business dropping private coverage. There’s no way around it. When you put all of that together it does not make for a better system. It makes for a failed system. We will go from some of us not having adequate coverage to everyone having coverage that is totally inadequate. That is not an improvement. Do we need some changes? YES. These just aren’t the changes we need.

  8. Amen, Danielle!

  9. larry waiteAugust 9, 2009 at 10:47 pm

    What are the changes we need? We have at least 50,000,000 people without any health coverage and millions more with premiums and deductables that make it very difficult if not imposible to get adaquate health care.
    I know many peole do not agree in the direction the current administration is taking in health care but they offer next to nothing to address the real issues we all face in health care. Please offer something specific that will address this issue. Thanks

  10. Larry, I agree with you that we have a laundry list of health care issues that need tending. As I’m not a health care expert, I truly cannot tell you a plan that will address the complexity of the issue. I’m hoping (not naively, I pray!) that the health care experts that ARE out there are all talking with one another so that whatever plan we have will be robust and sustainable and sufficiently address the issues at hand. However, the intention of my post was not to debate what specific changes we need but to beg everyone to discuss them with grace and civility. As I’m sure you know, the debate has reached a fever pitch and people on both sides of the issue are saying hateful and fear-inducing things about those on the other side that only serve to heighten everyone’s emotions all the more. I’m all for a good debate, and ALL for health care reform. But let’s do so wisely and in a way that does not demonize others.

  11. Fabulous post, Danielle. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your posts. Thank you!!!

  12. Thanks Kara!

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