Monday, October 25, 2010

Health Reform as a "Killer Issue"

I have never been comfortable with use of the word “killer” as a health reform issue. I may be in the minority. In political ads this year, character assassination as a weapon to kill your opponent is the norm.

Thirty-second TV negative sound-bites work. You can “kill” your opponent through negative ads questioning his-or-her integrity, character, and past actions.

You do this by casting issues in moralistic terms. As Robert Samuelson says in today’s Washington Post,”Opponents are not just mistaken. They’re immoral. They’re cast as evil, ignorant, dangerous, or all three.”

Democrats portray health reform as a moral crusade; anybody who opposes it has no heart. Republicans as a “government takeover;” anybody who bucks it has no brains.

Jeffrey Anderson, of the conservative Pacific Institute, says health reform is a “Democratic Killer.” He cites this data to back his point of view.

“Politico reported last month that candidates were spending seven times as much on ads attacking Obamacare on ads defending it – and even Democratic ads were 3-to-4 times against. On the first half of this month, the overall ration has swung to 20-to-1. The issue the voters most strongly demanded the candidates get right was health-care reform.”

But what is “right”? In the voters’ mind, and mine, is a health system that,

• gives voters choice of health plans, physicians, and hospitals – all acceptable to government;

• doesn’t bankrupt patients;

• has health plans with catastrophic lids;

• has appropriate premiums based on age and state of health;

• rewards patients promptly for malpractice injuries based on decisions by an impartial, independent body;

• fits the culture of a given geographic region and its levels of illness created by socio-economic conditions;

• gives patients access to preferred hospitals, doctors, and technologies;

• allows patients to pay more out-of-pocket in private contracts with doctors;

• relies on informed decision-making between patients and doctors without outside arbitrary bureaucratic intervention;

• strikes a reasonable balance between government regulations protecting against excesses and market incentives for excellence;

• Avoids government regulations that stifle innovation;

• preserves private practice traditions in America.

Is asking a civil discourse with middle-of-the-road compromises too much?

1 comment:

Lily said...

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