Only Anecdotal

No numbers, just stories

Decisions, Decisions

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After some drama and bated breath, we learned last Thursday that the Supreme Court–the same Supreme Court that has let me down a few times this term (i.e., regarding strip searches and campaign financing)–has upheld the Affordable Care Act… kind of.

And then, of course, the reactions poured in.

I want to be happy about this–and I am surprised that the individual mandate stood up past this test. It is only right that every person in this country should have insurance to cover health. It is just a right, as I see it, that in modern civilization that we should not only pick up trash and fight fires, but also make it possible to seek prevention and treatment around the various facts of our human condition.

But I am still sorry not to see many things here. This should not be an individual mandate, but an individual right. We should not be fooling around with different insurers–I just do not believe that the creativity of market forces will bring us the best solutions around health. An enormous amount of effort now goes into knowing the particular rules of various health plans, people who work in the healthcare field focused not on figuring out the most effective treatment so much as how to maneuver treatment so that it is even possible financially.

I had a discussion this afternoon with a social worker in a hospital around our perceptions of sickness and death. Somewhere along the way we lost touch with the finite nature of our lives, perhaps because the potential to save lives has become so effective, perhaps because we have had the good luck of relative prosperity and longer lives, perhaps because we have so effectively warehoused and silenced those who do not fit the image of wellness that we want to see in ourselves. We simply give up on the question of long-term care (i.e., the dissolution of the CLASS Act), an unattainable financial goal perhaps because we have not spent enough time considering the need for it.

But to go into the homes and the hospitals and the nursing homes and the shelters, it is not such a pretty story: countless foreclosures, bankruptcies, tragedies in the make when people are hit–for whatever reason–by illness or accidents (and this includes even the insured). In spite of our best efforts, people still get sick and become disabled–or perhaps because of our best efforts at times: people who might have died without such effective treatment now live, though the support they need to live their lives may now be much greater.

I want to cheer for the survival of the individual mandate, but I fear that having it without Medicaid expansion–and dare I say, without a single-payer system that includes long-term care, healthcare may improve, but not reform.

And the naysayers–the states that will simply refuse to participate in any efforts at all toward change–are the undoing of a country as told on one front, a country divided under the illusion of liberty, a country that pretends to save lives, but in the process refuses to accept and represent all of its citizens.


Written by Only Anecdotal

2 Jul 2012 at 9:31pm

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