The Contrarian: Checking Our Homework

Last Wednesday, the Obama administration went to the Supreme Court with the request that they hear United States Department of Health and Human Services, et al., Petitioners V. State of Florida, et al., one of many cases regarding challenges to the 2010 health care reform provisions and the constitutionality of its components. The insurance mandate, which requires all Americans to buy health insurance or pay a monetary penalty, is the main issue of concern.

The anticipated June verdict will make for great fodder at the pre-election debates for the 2012 Presidential Election, and a victory for this piece of legislation would reestablish the rationales for the aspects of it that have been regarded with objection.

Good thing; this expedited U.S. Supreme Court review of this health care upheaval is excellent PR, and voters need to be reminded what kind of give-and-take is occurring in terms of the “tax-payers dollars” and “right to choose” issues that people have been complaining about since the reform was in talks. The long-term and short-term consequences could be much better understood in the case that this review is handled and presented efficiently, and the citizens that they affect can participate in the reforms in a manner that is most beneficial.

Basically, health care and the ways to improve upon it for the future of the system in this country are contingent upon the support of the citizens who need it. Some aspects of the law have taken effect, and broader provisions will be more comprehensively implemented.

A review of the benefits against the aspects of the law that incur objection would be an additional gain for the Obama administration, which could use support in the form of voters acting out of agency: In 2010, insurers were banned from dropping sick and costly customers due to technical errors on applications and required to offer coverage to children under 26 on their parents’ policies. In 2011, standards now require insurance plans to cover many forms of preventive care for women without co-payments or other charges. All government-approved contraceptives are fully covered by health insurance.

Social programs often require the use of taxing and ostensible overreach of power to accomplish its goals, and it would do well for the future of our evolving health care system that a better understanding of our stake in this law be facilitated by government leaders and their constituents.

Medicare and Medicaid have been around since 1965, and the reach of the government expands with our growing demands on social programs. And it’s about time people realize that.

Once upon a time, Michael Moore was respected as an incendiary documentarian and people didn’t openly make comments about his weight and appearance with the same relish that a 16-year-old girl takes in noticing that the head cheerleader got a nose job. At the height of his mainstream success, Michael Moore was just as fat, and no one would dare say, because his documentaries scared the crap out of people and made them feel guilty for not being nearly as angry or as ostensibly cognizant about the many issues that plague our great nation.

Upon its release, Moore’s best known documentary, Bowling For Columbine, felt like an bombshell of information; for me and many of my public school-aged peers, it was a first exposure to semi-factual information regarding policy, and first endowment with verifiable materials that could be easily utilized for purposes of justified teenage angst and conversation points made as pretentious as a Millennial could muster.

One thing that stood out seemed as nonsensical to me as my curfew, and incited as much incredulity: When making a comparison between Canada and the United States in terms of the social structures that might differ in order to yield the great disparity in numbers regarding the issue of gun violence and related issues, Moore presented the topic of health care and how Canada’s methods might differ from our way of doing things.

This led me, and many of my peers, to believe that Canada gets free health care, and the United States somehow manages to exist directly below our neighbor to the north without the same structures that allow this social right to be healthy without a great financial burden. In part, I blame Bowling For Columbine for making so many people I know pay attention to international social policy in a manner that highlights our shortcomings here at home so that they cannot be properly understood.

The bit in particular that incited this impression was an sort clip of an interview with Mayor Mike Bradley of Sarnia, Canada, who generally described the role of federal heath care regulation as “…making sure [the citizens of Canada] have good daycare, assistance for their parents… when they’re elderly […] that they have proper health care that insures that they won’t lose their business or their house because they can’t afford their medical bills… That’s how you build
a good society.”

Rather than a “free” health care system that comes without citizen sacrifice in the form of tariffs or fines or whatever it is one would prefer to call these infringements, Canada has a comprehensive health care system that has proven itself effective enough to warrant attention as one of the many countries in the world that provides a right that we claim to be unalienable: The right to be safe and healthy. Not exactly free, but close enough.

Hopefully skeptics will be quelled when the big changes happen and progress begins to show.