Sunday, April 13, 2008

Health Care immorality

I had a VERY eye-opening discussion with two very righteous and intelligent women. Both of them are on the conservative side of the aisle and both work, either directly or indirectly, with lobbying firms. We were talking about impending health care reform. Both of them went almost apocalyptic when I said that we will have some form of universal health care in the next 4 years.

While I expect reasonable people to disagree about universal health care (mandates, funding, choice, quality, etc), both of these women were almost certainly against the idea of universal health care. When we got into the nuts and bolts of the discussion, they were both clearly upset that hospitals had to help anyone that showed up. But when I asked them, "Is it not immoral that someone should die in the waiting room because they don't have $500 to see a doctor?"

There was much hesitancy until they both agreed. "But those people should just get a job with benefits," was the answer. And I asked, "What about the fact that 1/6 of Americans can't see their doctor without fearing bankruptcy? Isn't that immoral?"

There response was that my numbers were wrong (they aren't) or that we were treating too many illegal aliens in our hospitals. I'm not sure how that followed, but I refused to follow that rabbit trail. I simply replied that they should be required to get insurance too.

We had to cut the conversation short, but I wouldn't let them away without answering my question. Both disagreed with my statement, "It is immoral that 1/6 of Americans can't see their doctor without fearing bankruptcy."

Now, I assumed that the health care debate would be contentious (as it should be...this is a massive question with lots of stakeholders), but I guess I've always assumed that everyone agreed lack of access to healthcare due to one's financial situation was immoral. If we can't even agree on that basic premise, health care reform will never get off the ground.

Does anyone have any anecdotal evidence similar to mine?

I did have some faith restored in reaching some sort of health care agreement this morning. I related the above story to some Republican staffers (basically all my friends here in DC are Republican staffers...kinda cool, but also kinda sucks) and all 4 of them did agree that going without healthcare because you couldn't afford it was immoral, but they were also in agreement that government has no place in solving this situation.