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Both Sides of the Fence

A Tosa resident since 1991, Christine walks the dog, cooks but avoids housework, writes and reads, and enjoys the company of friends and strangers. Her job takes her around the state, learning about people's health. A Quaker (no, they don't wear blue hats or sell oatmeal or motor oil), she has been known to stand on both sides of the political and philosophic fence at the same time, which is very uncomfortable when you think about it. She writes about pretty much whatever stops in to visit her busy mind at the moment. One reader described her as "incredibly opinionated but not judgmental." That sounds like a good thing to strive for!

Obama's mistake

Healthcare reform, Obama, politics

While visiting relatives yesterday, the conversation drifted from my nephew's masterful basement remodeling job to politics. Specificially, the politics of healthcare that we've been talking about here and in Tom Gaertner's blog.

Things got tense fast. But we stayed polite with each other.

It's been awhile since we have had this much political discomfort. His family generally has been as conservative as mine is liberal. But Nephew's movement into a good union job and the weakness of the Republican platform in the last presidential election moved some of them closer to center. We found more places to agree than not.

That unity seems to have come to an end. Nephew, who is a smart guy, seems willing to believe untrue things about the proposed health insurance reform plan. I'm pretty sure he knows some of the arguments he makes with heat and passion are bogus: he won't look me in the eyes when he's making them.

I didn't argue. No one has changed anyone's mind on this subject that I know of. And frankly, the arsenal of facts I can be confident about is small. (If you want clarity about what's true and what's not, go to FactCheck.org. There you'll find mis-statements on both sides of the issue exposed.)

But it's not about facts. I think I've finally gotten that. It's about a deep and abiding lack of trust in the government people like my nephew have. And maybe people like me ought to develop a little more of.

After all, it looks like the congress is throwing out an important aspect of the plan, payment for physician visits to discuss end of life preferences, just because people are squawking about it. It's good, it's important, and  they ought to insist on keeping it. The components of the plan need to be based on what's right, not on what's easiest. If the government doesn't have the courage of its convictions, how can we trust them?

I think President Obama should stop telling people not to fear the bogey man, even if it is a bogey man they are fearing. That's patronizing. Repackaging "the facts" won't work. People will know they are being manipulated--even if they don't see the other entities that are manipulating them now.

What might help: building into the plan understandable, believeable, nongovernmental structures to prevent the government excesses people fear. What's there now isn't satisfying too many people, even when you can persuade them to read the proposal.

One change comes to mind: give the office of the Ombudsman power to override decisions made by the insurers, whether they be private or government, in the interest of the patient.

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