We can’t debate healthcare reform until we know exactly what we are debating

Written by Ron on August 11th, 2009

The pundits and progressives are all aflutter about some recent townhall meetings with Congress members that have gotten loud and rowdy.  This should not be a real surprise as healthcare is a very personal issue—especially so if you have a chronic condition or are retired on a fixed income. Sure, some of the participants may have been seeded by those with a particular position, but many are just angry at what certainly looks like a huge change with no public debate.

First, it would help a lot if all of us could actually see and read what we are debating. I’d be very surprised if all the members of Congress have even read it all, much less understand it.  With all the communications outlets currently available to the Congress and the Administration, there is no reason why the people should not be completely informed on the proposed package so we are not running scared with rumors of death boards. Yes, I know we can read the whole thing online, but can most of us make any sense of it?

This is a very serious subject which directly affects people’s lives. Broad outlines from the Administration and a few members of Congress from each side of the aisle does not constitute a debate.  Likewise, one speaker making statements and answering questions in a room full of constituents is not a debate either.

In the absence of clear, concise information about exactly what is changing and what is will cost us all, it is not surprising that many will react with fear. Add to this the number of people, both broadcasters and politicos that know that nothing motivates people to action better than fear and you have a formula for emotional reactions and outrage. The liberals are outraged that the masses would dare question the wisdom or motives of the progressive elite who always know what’s best for us and the conservatives are outraged that there is not a lot they can do to stop this train regardless of where it is currently headed.

Many of us have personal experience with finding out after the fact that a nameless, faceless entity has determined that something  is “not a covered expense” or  “not medically necessary, ” but we have to pay for it anyway. Therefore it is not surprising that people are reluctant to trust what sounds like another group of insurance salesmen telling us not to worry.

It’s real simple. If you don’t want us screaming about the latest rumor we’ve heard, replace those rumors with detailed, accurate information, not broad gentle reassurances. Tell us what exactly this bill is trying to accomplish and how a given section or subtitle accomplishes that.

Congress and the Administration need to spend the next month or two putting out detailed accurate information and give people a chance to digest it. Then, go back and make the changes that this discussion has shown are needed and put it to a vote of both houses. Let’s get this decided on its merits, not on who is best at stampeding their followers.


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