Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Yom Kippur 2009/5770: Health Reform Observations

At first glance, one might wonder what the Day of Atonement and health care "reform" have in common. It's important to note that Judaism has no word for the idea of "sin" (at least as we use the term today). Rather, we talk about "al cheyt" ("to miss the mark"). The idea is that we set out to do the right thing, but somehow fall short of doing so.
Another way of looking at this is that we aim for the bulls-eye, but our shot ends up off-center. And I think that's really what's happened with so-called "reform" efforts. First, we (and by "we," I mean the public and the pols) talked about health care reform, but that quickly veered off into discussions of guaranteed issue and pre-existing conditions coverage, which are in the realm of health insurance, a very different thing.
So we "missed the mark."
Then talk turned to how reforming how we pay for health care was much more important than actually dealing with the underlying cost of that care.
And again, we "missed the mark."
Soon, talk turned to a Public Option that would somehow "compete" with existing insurers, as if the government's mighty hand wouldn't be steering that ship. As we know, there is no competing with government.
And so we "missed the mark" again.
Quickly, the discussion turned to the cost of these "reforms," with various folks claiming that it would be "deficit neutral" when, in fact, it would be anything but.
Yet again, we "missed the mark."
Now, it appears that the folks in the Senate are planning to pass a bill with no actual substance: a "shell of a bill," if you will. Of course, it's difficult to discuss and debate specifics if there aren't any. And so we face the very real prospect of changing for change's sake, with no real idea of just how expensive and far-reaching these changes will be.
Sense a theme yet?
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