Healthcare – Moving beyond the converted

I posted the following as a response to a diary on Universal Health Care by rjones2818, which can be found here. The essay didn’t get much response, unfortunately, so my comment failed to generate any discussion. I want some thoughts on this issue, so I thought I would re-post as a short diary.

rjones2818 asserted that a primary component of the debates between General Motors and the UAW was health care and it’s associated costs. And, that the issue would have been greatly simplified if we simply had Universal Health Care for ALL in this country. An excellent point, no doubt. Below the fold are my thoughts (with limited editing):

You’re preaching to the choir on this one. Thank you very much for presenting this info, as the more it is heard by more people the more likely it is to become a mainstream idea.

But, you are reiterating support for an idea that, I dare say, most people here already support. Your poll seems to back me up (albeit with limited results – 5 votes – so far).

What we need to do is make change inevitable. We must follow the path that leads to more of the general populace addressing this change as one that will occur in short order. A foregone conclusion. To do this we need everyone here plus a huge number of the disaffected masses, as well as a good number of engaged moderates and some republicans too.

Even if it happens, it’s all for naught if the traditional media ignores it. This issue must be OJ. It must be Paris and Lindsay. It must be in the public’s face constantly. ONLY THEN, when our elected officials recognize that they ignore this issue at their peril,  will the next step in the process occur.

So, what’s the plan?

Well, like many people here, I wrote my Senators and representative informing them of my expectation that they will support HR 676. One of my Senators (G. Voinovich) was kind enough to send me a form letter in reply, saying how “important” this issue is, and how his plan will fix the problem. Guess what? It falls short of what we truly need. Luckily, my other Senator is Sherrod Brown – a true champion for Universal Health Care. My Representative is another republican, and I hold out zero hope for his support of HR 676.

This means I’m barking up the wrong tree. Perhaps others here live in a state or district where their Congressmen/women are “on the fence” and can be swayed. Otherwise, your letter/e-mail/phone call makes little difference.

What we must do is make it commonplace to hear the following a statement uttered in public: “Everyone wants universal health care. Everyone thinks it’s a good idea”. Now you’re smart enough to know that anytime you hear “everyone says this”, or “everyone does that”, you are hearing an unsubstantiated claim that is based solely on hearsay and anecdotal evidence. But, the beauty is that it still serves to strengthen the assertion. Think: republican talking points.

The target of our attack should be the traditional media. If the networks are convinced that people are behind this issue, they will report on it. If they report on it, more people will talk about it. It is a vicious cycle/feedback loop that benefits our cause.

The key is making the issue sensational enough that it can break through the programming mantra “if it bleeds it leads”. You’ve touch on one way to do that. The GM strike stands to heavily impact the economy of our country and, therefore, every person operating within it. This at a time when all indicators but the Dow say we’re heading into the toilet. Talk about a human interest story. We could have partially avoided a “perfect storm” of problems (housing collapse, weakening dollar, GM strike) affecting our economy, if we had only covered the health care of these UAW workers, along with the rest of the country. This opens the opportunity to discuss the cost reductions and other benefits to American citizens and businesses that would come with an overhaul of our health care system. This is simply an example of the type of story that might get a foot in the door of the networks.

In the end, anything that gets a story on the “news” will have a net positive benefit in this regard. In my opinion, anyone who has had a negative experience with our current system should let their local network affiliate know about it. On a slow news day, they may choose to follow-up on the lead you’ve provided. If you can organize a local group who have had similar problems, that’s even better. The larger the group yelling to be on camera, the more likely the people with the cameras will pay attention.

So, rj, sorry for the…um…lengthy comment. This issue is an important one for me. Not because it directly affects me or any loved ones…yet. Plain and simple, universal health care is based on a recognition of the humanity of our brothers and sisters. If We The People are reminded that we matter, perhaps we’ll stand up for other rights we’ve let fall by the wayside. It’s the domino theory of progress, perhaps.

Keep fighting the good fight. Peace.

This is my first addition to the collection of diaries on Docudharma. I recognize I’m not breaking any ground with my thoughts, but I’m very interested in getting some feedback. It’s the discussion that matters. Do you think this is the best way to affect change? If not in this way, then how? It’s time for a change, how do we effectively do more than simply convince each other of this fact?


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  1. First off – recommended for furthering the discussion.

    Above, you state:

    If the networks are convinced that people are behind this issue, they will report on it. If they report on it, more people will talk about it.

    Yes, this is definitely the way it’s supposed to work. Yet, 2/3 of the American public want out of Iraq and the Traditional Media still act like there’s a debate going on. We need to find a way to break PAST the traditional media on this issue.

    I’m wondering if the well isn’t so poisoned on this issue we won’t be forced into trying some version of the approach advocated by John Edwards. Basically, he wants to mandate insurance coverage and offer a choice between public and private insurance schemes to do so. It’s expensive as hell in the short run, but if the people have a choice in the matter, we might just end up with a pretty good system in the long run.


    • Pluto on September 25, 2007 at 7:25 pm

    I happen to really like this form of Essay. I call it a “Diary Derivative.” It not only rescues the intellectual capital that was invested in this community — but it provides an opening for others to comment from a new point of view.

    To Wit:  I could not post on rjones Essay because it precluded what I believe to be the essential principle underlying the issue:

    It must be made ILLEGAL for any employer to contribute directly to the health insurance of any employee. Including all state and federal government employers.

    Only by putting ALL Americans into the same status quo can we ever achieve (or even intelligently discuss) health care for all.

    Furthermore, all discussions should be prefaced with a statement of understanding of the difference between “health care” and “health insurance.” They are very different animals.

    Whenever I see these terms used interchangeably, I find the ensuing discussion to be utterly pointless.

    • Nate1787 on September 25, 2007 at 7:36 pm

    Am I supposed to put out a tip jar or something?

    OK then…

    • snud on September 25, 2007 at 11:05 pm

    My father will be 87 in a couple of weeks. He’s a WWII veteran and taught English for forty years at a nearby college. The pay sucked but thankfully, he has “good” health insurance.

    Since my mom and sister died, I’m the only one around to take care of him.

    Back in May he had a stroke and it nailed him pretty bad. He was in the hospital for 3 weeks. He had to be permanently catheterized. While you can still carry on a perfectly good conversation with him, he struggles with short term memory.

    (Me too – but that’s from the weed maaaan! 🙂 Anyway…

    He lives less than a mile away from me so I’d been running up to his house 2-3 times a day, doing pretty much everything for him – cooking, cleaning, laundry, paying his bills, etc.

    A few weeks ago, I notice what looked like a rash around his left foot. So I called his doctor who told me it could be very serious and to get him to a hospital asap. I explained he’s just not mobile (needs a walker, doesn’t have a wheelchair) so his doctor told me to call an ambulance, which I did.

    They took him to the same hospital he was in before, which did OK back in May.

    This time was different. They left my father sitting on a stretcher in a hallway for 8 hours. (No long waiting times here in the US, huh?) I kept calling the hospital ’til finally, around midnight, they condescended to admit him.

    The next day was a Saturday and most of the doctors were apparently on the golf course – the place should’ve had tumbleweeds blowing around it was so desserted. I arrived in the morning (about 9:00 am) to find that no one had given him anything to eat or drink since he’d arrived.

    I handed him the coffee I’d bought myself and went to get him a fast-food breakfast. Someone finally showed up around noon to ask him if he wanted anything to eat.

    Two days later, on Monday morning, I arrived to find a huge “WARNING!” sign on his door – about infection.

    My father had contracted MRSA (Methycillin Resistant Staph Aureus) – probably through his catheter – which, coincidentally had been changed about a week before at the same hospital.

    I think I read that he had a one in three chance of making it. But he’s a tough old goat! After a single dose of the one remaining antibiotic that still works, he perked up.

    Why did it take so long to culture and identify the bug? There’s a “quick” test available – but it’s too expensive so his insurance wouldn’t pay for that.

    After almost a week there he was discharged to a “rehab” facility where he is now. The place is depressing as hell – mostly people around my dad’s age in various stages of decay. Medicare will cover him there for a while – until someone ordains that he’s “not making any more progress”.

    This past Sunday, when I visited him, he told me that no one brought him anything to eat – or drink – after his breakfast on Saturday. He’s not so addled that he forgot; in fact, I heard others complaining of the same thing.

    In short, this is unacceptable. I’m not just referring to who and how one pays for health(don’t)care in this country but the alledged quality of what we do get.

    It’s pathetic.

    My point is this: The system is SO broken that even people who think they’re “OK” aren’t.

    Oh well – I won’t have to worry. I had my healthcare insurance yanked earlier this year so I wouldn’t make it as far as he did.

    Did I mention I’m on disability? I won’t go there in this rant but you get the picture.

    I guess I’ll just buy my drugs over the “Intertubes” and when things get too fucking bad, check the hell out. ‘Cause I can’t afford to “fix” it.

    • Nate1787 on September 25, 2007 at 11:24 pm

    how to break through the traditional media’s barriers of entry?

    In the end, these are corporations that are interested in one thing. They’ll sell you the rope to hang ’em with, if it means a profit. If they believe that reporting on health care will provide higher ratings, they WILL do it. Even if it’s contrary to their politics.

    So, I’ve put forward a pretty simplistic idea above, let’s call it “attacking the slow news day”. What else can be done to push them to the tipping point. I believe, once we’ve done that, the growing clamour for change will build on itself.

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