Monday, May 21, 2012

More on the Obamacare Octopus
Then the creeping murderer, the octopus, steals out, slowly, softly, moving like a gray mist, pretending now to be a weed, now a rock, now a lump of decaying meat while its evil goat eyes watch coldly. It oozes and flows towards a feeding crab, and as it comes close its yellow eyes burn and its body turns rosey with the pulsing color of anticipation and rage. Then suddenly it runs lightly on the tips of its arms, as ferociously as a charging cat.  It leaps savagely on the crab, there is a puff of black fluid, and the struggling mass is obscured a  sepia cloud while the octopus murders the crab.
John Steinbeck (1902-1968),  Cannery Row
May 21, 2012 -  In a May 15, 2012 post,  I described Obamacare as an octopus,  sucking money, taxes,  and freedoms out of patients and physicians.  

I did this tongue-in-cheek.  It made for a convenient metaphor that encapsulated the unintended consequences of Obamacare into one lump.   

The metaphor had a serious side too – for Obamacare means  different things to different people at different times - like an Octoput moving in eight different directions.
The timing of my post was good.   At about the same time, a new book appeared on the publishing horizon - Learning from the Octopus: How Secrets from Nature Can Help Us Fight Terrorist Attacks, Natural Disasters, and Disease ( Rafe Sagarin, Basic Books, 2012, 284 pages). 
The book portrays the octopus as the essence of adaptation, as being able to make variations and adjustments, small and large, to survive and thrive. 

The book  says humans could learn a lot from the octopus as an adaptable  organism in a decentralized environments, that recognizes the threat of explosive devices in Iraq,   develops faster ways to detect epidemic outbreaks, and responds quickly ane efficiently  to environmental and security challenges.
The author expounds, “As a hunter, the octopus has camouflage, keen problem-solving skills, shape-shifting abilities, strong tentacles, an ink cloud to distract and hide its movements, a strong jaw, and some species, poison.  As a hunted prey, the same octopus has those same features – redundant  offensive and defensive systems all working  a little differently  one another. “
The lesson to be learned here, I suppose, is that Obamacare is going to be very difficult to kill, especially its  popular features already in play – coverage for pre-existing disease,  young adults up to 26 under their parents’ policies, limits of coverage,  donut hole discounts,   15% limits on health plan profits compared to revenues. 
It may not be wise even to attack these popular features. The GOP might even want to keep them.  And it will be difficult to counter the camouflage language at which President Obama is so adept and the mainstream media so eagar to  swallow.  

Beyond these problems,  Obamacare opponents will require a comprehensive counter strategy that shows  they have commonsensical solutions to the myriad problems of our health system.
Tweet:  The Obamacare octopus will be difficult to subdue or to kill  because of the adaptability,  survival skills, and political reach  of its mentor and master.

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