In the October 31 edition of this paper, Mr. Robert Dezmelyk entered the ongoing discussion about Obamacare. Whether or not I agree with his conclusions, it was less his argument that got my attention, than the manner in which he presented his opinion. He is clearly passionate about his viewpoint, but without resorting to name-calling and wild accusations about the motives of those who might disagree. I respect his approach.
Unlike the civil tone of his letter, most of the rhetoric these days is the equivalent of someone waving their fist in your face. Because of this toxic climate, I have been conditioned to react defensively and stubbornly when those with different political views criticize programs which I support. That instinctive reaction is only heightened when the language of their arguments insults me for my values. To his credit, Mr. Dezmelyk did not do that, perhaps because he understands that such an approach is rarely effective in changing minds.
The national debate about Obamacare is really about different visions for confronting two fundamental issues in our healthcare system: cost and access. Although solutions that satisfy the core concerns of most constituencies surely exist, we can’t address them if we cannot understand those concerns, talk about ways to resolve them, and negotiate more on substance and less on ideology.
My own monthly health care premiums on the day I retired in April were 2.5 times what they were a decade before. Increased co-pays and co-insurance make that number even higher. I don’t care which party you support, that is too much. On this, Mr. Dezmelyk and I surely agree.
He also raises the important issue of access, albeit from a different perspective, that of limited choice in providers. I also have worried about access, but less from the concern of losing my doctor than from being denied coverage as a cancer patient.
I would like Mr. Dezmelyk to keep his doctors and hospitals without his premiums going through the roof. And I bet he wouldn’t wish me the nightmare of returning to a system where I could be denied coverage and bankrupted simply because I had the misfortune to get cancer. Maybe Mr. Dezmelyk and I could sit down and resolve these problems in bipartisan collaboration, unlike our Congress in Washington.