When Hillary Clinton, as First Lady, decided to make health care her issue, we all cheered. Then, she decided that Ira Magaziner was going to be in charge, and, having no idea who he was, we didn’t think much about it except that someone was going to deal with that important issue. After 6 or 7 arrogant briefings by Magaziner we started to worry. Surely, we thought, this guy is not going to be the person to explain the First Lady’s plan to the American public. We were wrong. He, and a few other ‘experts’ in the ‘smart, smart, stupid,’ category were exactly who the White House thought should explain it. But they didn’t understand the bureaucracy or the rules of dealing with the public and they neglected to get the Congress on board. And before we knew it, the health care battle was a lost cause. The First Lady, derided for her involvement, separated herself from the plan, thereby rendering it a defeat. That’s the bad news. The good news is that she then had time to deal with ‘women’s’ issues and she was really, really good at that.
This White House talks about health care non-stop. They have rearranged their press conference this evening so it will be televised by the 3 major broadcast networks and they are calling it a ‘conversation’ with the American people—even though it’s not. I guess we’re supposed to feel like the President has made progress, even though he’s down in the polls. Here’s my problem. I am totally confused by all the plans. In fact, I am totally confused about everything that has anything to do with the government. I don’t understand what’s happened to the economy. I don’t get how the stock market has revived and Goldman Sachs has paid back their loans from the government, but people are still out of work and the whole country—with the exception of the very rich, is depressed. If not in their pockets, at least in their heads. I hardly know a person who is not medicated or doesn’t want to be.
The health care system is clearly in trouble, and everyone who is not rich or employed by the government knows this. For example, a few months ago I fell outside my house and hit my head. It bled and it hurt. But, having spent too many hours in the emergency room, on any number of occasions, (because we always develop serious illnesses when our doctors are off duty), I decided just to stop the bleeding and watch for signs of a concussion. It seemed I was bruised, but OK until weeks later when I noticed I was off balance and had headaches. Then Natasha Richardson died and a number of people told me head injury horror stories, so I called my doctor. Unfortunately, my doctor is not in my health plan network so I had to find a doctor who was, and who could then refer me to a facility that did MRI’s. and a neurologist who could take my case. It was so complicated that if I hadn’t had terrible headaches before, I would have developed them just dealing with the system. And I feel sure it’s not only me. My guess is that even those of us who are covered by some plan, are in ongoing battles with our providers. And the people who are not covered, might just as well pass on to a better place – like Europe.
Here’s one of the things that make me crazy. Instead of working together to find a way to provide health care to people who need it. the Congress is in a battle to see who can make the President look like a failure. The politics remains the issue, not a horrible system. No one has yet to explain why we can’t buy cheaper drugs from Canada, why the States aren’t negotiating with the pharmaceutical companies so prices come down, and why doctors have to pay such exorbitant insurance costs that they can’t afford to maintain their practices. It’s totally nuts and truthfully, all about the strongest lobbyists with the most money.
The President is fighting an uphill battle because there are so many stories and so many plans, no one understands what a new health care system means – in terms of money and care and taxes to pay for it all. Maybe the dialogue is without arrogance but it’s not without too much complicated and contrary information. How can anyone support an idea or a program that they don’t understand. No matter how much conversation the White House has with the public using traditional or social media, public support will be slow in coming until there is a simple plan, and some simple people who speak simple words of clarity in explanation. I think I need an aspirin. We’re just sayin’….Iris