By John Norton
What is one to make of the fierce wrangling in Washington, D.C., in the crafting of a health care reform bill?
I take it for granted that most, if not all, of our readers agree that our current health care system needs fixing. Not only is it increasingly costly, too many people don't get the access to medical treatment that they need. (I would argue that we've also fixated so much on the "system" that we've neglected the bigger picture of basic preventative care and promotion of healthier, fitter lifestyles. The recent surge in obesity-related diseases, even among children, is extremely costly -- not just financially but also humanly -- and are easily preventable. The "fix" to that problem in social attitude is not something that can be solved with a piece of legislation or two.)
But I'd be willing to wager that there's a wide diversity of views among our readers on the right way to fix the problem(s). That only makes sense. The issue is so incredibly complex and tied to other aspects of social life that reasonable people can and will come to different judgments about which plans might work -- or flop.
I think it is fair to be concerned about what Congress has come up with so far, and not just because the drafts of the bill included morally offensive and unprecedented provision for abortion coverage.
There's also the question of whether it will work. Independent groups like the Congressional Budget Office said its analysis of the early House plan showed that it actually would increase the federal deficit and not have the savings its supporters promised -- the opposite of what we're trying to accomplish.
And I confess unease at the speed with which this is being pushed through. These bills are hundreds and hundreds of pages long. It is irresponsible for legislators to vote on them one way or the other without first reading them and, further, performing due diligence in trying to anticipate their effect.
To be sure, there's more than a fair bit of outright obstructionist partisanship also at play, which doesn't help any of us in the long run.
Where are we left? When tackling enterprises like this that have so many angles and detail, it is always worth reviewing and renewing our understanding of the core principles at play.
That's what we've tried to provide in this issue's In Focus, Pages 9-12: It is a guide to the Catholic principles that should come into play in any health care policy discussion. They'll arm you for the debate.
And don't miss the fascinating Page 4 story about the approach of a community of nuns to illness and death. It helps put the whole point of health care into perspective for all of us.
As always, I look forward to hearing from you on this or other issues: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please note: Comments left online may be considered for publication in the Letters to the Editor section of OSV Newsweekly.
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