Thursday, July 23, 2009

Is There A Pill For This?

It's 4 in the morning. I don't really know what woke me up, but once my mind turned on, it's been impossible to stop. And you know what I've been thinking about for the last 45 minutes or so? Health care reform. That is the worst, thinking about something problematic that I have zero control over, so I end up laying in bed pondering what unique, end-of-the-world scenario Satan is cooking up that begins with Big Government controlling our access to medicine.

You'll have to excuse the hyperbole - I tend to get a little hyperbolic in the middle of the night. Hyperbolic? Isn't that some kind of curve from geometry? I also tend to ramble and lose track of my train of thought. Where was I? Oh yes, health care reform.

The reason this topic is keeping me up at night is that every time I think about it, I start to get the same panicky, sick feeling in the pit of my stomach, the exact same feeling that I had when the government bought out General Motors. The feeling that says, "Wait a second, am I the ONLY ONE who sees that this is a bad idea?" A feeling not unlike being on a really jerky roller coaster, one made out of wood and it's all creaky and you're so afraid that the whole thing is going to collapse and they'll have to dig your broken body out and call your parents and tell them you died in a freak roller-coaster accident, so afraid that you can't enjoy it. And the real problem is that you can't get off the roller coaster - they only hope you have is that in 4 years, maybe a new operator will take over, but that guy is going to have his own ideas about how the roller coaster should run, so you're not out of the woods then, either.

Apparently I'm a big fan of run-on sentences in the middle of the night, too. I wonder if this is going to make any sense at all when I read it again tomorrow. I mean later today.

So back to health care. I've felt this panicky feeling before, but usually I can say, "This isn't the end of the world. So we buy an obsolete car manufacturer, hand it over to labor unions, and the most I'll get from my tax dollars is the chance to buy a crappy car with the employee discount. So what?" I can't so what health care, for some reason. The country is rushing headfirst into a giant canyon, and I'm fairly sure lawmakers believe there will be a massive pile of cash at the bottom to cushion our fall. Don't you think if there were cash canyons still around in America, the Chinese would have bought them and started mining months ago?

There will be no mound of dollars to soften our fall. As the person who handles the budget for our family and our company, I have come up with a hard-and-fast rule that I live by: don't spend so much money. See? It's not that hard! Sometimes there are things that the family wants, like new couches that don't have a wobbly leg that occasionally collapses underneath you. But since the river of money that used to flow through our backyard dried up (I suspect the neighbors of siphoning it off), we are putting off the couch until a little later. The last thing I would do is spend money we don't have in order to buy a bigger couch that seats more people but still has a wobbly leg!

Okay, I know it's the middle of the night, so let me try to be a little less vague about my health care reform beliefs. Expansion is not the same as reform. Expanding Medicaid so that it covers millions more people is going to exacerbate our medical problems. For example, did you know that it is Medicaid recipients that clog up hospital ER's, not the uninsured or illegal immigrants. That's because Medicaid recipients don't have the $100 copay to use an ER like I do, so there's no incentive not to go there. Plus, 40% of doctors don't accept Medicaid patients because the reimbursement is too low. So let's see - if I was a lawmaker and had the chance to leave my mark on the world, would I do it by coming up with a new, efficient health care system, or would I take the same, broken system and cram an extra million people into it?

Why, why don't they come up with something more creative than this? Really, is this the best they can do? Where's the big, round table with a seat for everyone involved so they can come up with creative ideas to solve a lack of affordable health care? I am loathing the rush to make a decision - it seems like this presidency has been all about spending political capital to push through as many Democratic projects as possible before the country realizes it was duped by a message of "change." Yeah, I'll give you change all right - all we did was switch from Republican to Democrat, there's no change here. This is business as usual, with a more charming guy than usual at the helm.

Is this how Democrats have felt the last eight years, that the man in charge doesn't actually care about what's best for the country, just what's best for him politically? I feel so neglected by the ruling party that it's like I no longer have a voice. And where the heck are the Republicans with their alternative ideas?? Why is there no coalition of hospitals/economists/businesspeople with a no-government plan? I've never liked the idea of a single-payer plan, but I'd rather take that, with it's simplicity and transparency, than what I'm hearing now.

Since nobody is asking, here's my brilliant idea about how to pay for a health care plan. Take the entire government budget, and reduce it by ten percent across the board. No special exceptions for anyone, and anyone complaining gets reduced more. You cannot possibly tell me with a straight face that government agencies are already lean, efficient spenders and that there's no way they can find 10% savings out of their budget. Let everyone who takes government dollars (Defense, Health, whoever is in charge of NASA, etc) do what regular families do: spend a little less. One of the beauties of difficult economic times is the creative solutions that entrepreneurs come up with in order to solve their problems with less. Let's show the world that we believe in ourselves and our ingenuity enough to be successful without needing to spend ourselves into oblivion. Let's try for some quality governance instead of just quantity.

I was hoping that if I got this off my chest, it would make me feel better and I could go to sleep. But I think all I'm ending up with is a bunch of rambling, incoherent anti-government rants that kind of leave a bad taste in my mouth. The reason that I can't just let health care reform go is that I'm writing a 10 page paper about it for one of my classes this semester. Once that is done and turned in, I vow not to think about health care reform ever again. Not if it leads to this kind of middle of the night insanity. There are other people whose job it is to stay up worrying about health care reform. Besides, being awake at 4 in the morning makes me hungry. And no government agency is going to be cooking me breakfast. At least, not yet. Let's hope Denny's doesn't need a bailout.


In My Words said...


By the way, I am so stealing that GM Employee Discount line!

Kim said...

I like your thinking. I don't care who comes up with a plan to reform the healthcare democrat or republican, but it needs to be fixed. Expanding medicaid is not the answer but when I was reading the proposed bill There is alot more to it than that. I like your 10% idea. But, I don't think military, teachers, politicians etc would go for pay cuts (as at least part of it would have to come down to that) Anyway, I would love to read your paper when you are done with it. Maybe Senator Kennedy's proposal is better without the provision for a government insurance plan, but I haven't read that one.

rachel said...

Emily, I SO agree with what you are saying. As you can guess, this is a hot topic in our house too, since it is bound to only make Jeff's job worse. I like the broken couch leg analogy, except that I think the whole couch is broken. Or maybe it is a table when it is supposed to be a couch. Medicaid is not working. Why on earth would you just add to the problem? It is the rushing that makes me mad. Why not use our BRAINS? Oh, I also read that in his press conference, Obama claimed that he brought our country back from the brink of economic collapse. Yeah, whatever. I would love to read your paper too.

Mb said...

I like the 10% thing. I'd suggest we exempt things like children's education, but then I suspect we'd end up with a lot of kindergartens buying cruise missiles as "teaching aids." Great blog, as usual.

Mb said...

And yes, there are pills for this, but most major religions treat suicide as a very big sin, so those pills are mostly out.

MLBGirl said...

As depressing as the whole thing seems right now, at least you made me laugh. And way to mention Denny's!