There’s a conversational dynamic which I’m already getting tired of, though I’m sure that we’ll see a lot more of it in the coming weeks and months, and it goes basically like this:
A: “I see the following problems with Obama’s health care proposal…”
B: “Don’t you understand the Church teaches health care is a right? Do you want there to be 47 million uninsured? How can you stand in the way of the one chance to do this? Do you think the current system is just fine?”
Clearly, just because the Democrats in Congress are patching together a 1000+ page bill which has specific characteristic and goes under the title of “healthcare reform” do not mean that this is the only way in which one might seek to reform healthcare. And although this may be the primary alternative to the status quo available at this moment in time, even someone who considers the status quo to be far from perfect might well consider the proposal currently coming together to be worse than the status quo.
Now, as advertised, the reform being put together would result in the coverage of more Americans, though not all Americans. So I suppose it is the case that if one restricts oneself to an immediate binary situation of a) we do not pass the current bill and no more Americans are covered or b) we do pass the bill and more Americans are covered; it’s true that by at least one objective measure passing the bill would be “better” than not.
However, there is a lot more to determining what is good for the country than the immediate question of whether a few more people have a certain kind of coverage in 2015 than in 2012, and I think it’s entirely reasonable for those who want to see an eventual US healthcare situation different from the current one, but not at all like the one Obama seems to be driving towards, to attempt to bring this round of reform down, in hopes of getting something they can support the next time around.
I don’t know if this is remotely possible with a country as divided as ours clearly is on issues such as the scope of government, but it would be gratifying if policy makers could agree to a staged debate, beginning with what overall structure is to be targetted (at which point the debate could be had over local vs. national; public vs. private; etc.) and the working down to details in subsequent rounds. This would work within the top-down organization of a corporation, but I’m not at all clear people could agree to play by the rules in a demagogic republic such as ours seems to be at the moment. So instead, we have one massive plan (which no doubt few who vote on it will read in its entirely) which by turns its supports claim is a plan for a future in which everyone is covered, or the smallest of course corrections that will just serve to cover more people. (And, of course, if you don’t support that, you’re despicable, aren’t you.)
It’s become de rigueur to say that we need to have “a national conversation” on various topics, but it would seem that health care is not one that either party is very eager to have anything resembling a real conversation on — the one party because they know that the majority of Americans will not actually support their agenda if revealed, and the other because they do not have a coherant agenda yet at all.