Monday, December 13, 2010

A solution to healthcare reform

Today, Virginia's attorney general, Ken Cuccinelli, was in the news again. A federal judge in Richmond, Henry Hudson, agreed with parts of Cuccinelli's argument to tear up the healthcare bill that was passed earlier this year by Congress.

It's hard for me to say how it will turn out, when the Supreme Court finally sorts this out. Not only am I not a lawyer, but I'm not sure I understand how the required purchase of health insurance works. So far, two judges have liked the healthcare bill's language, Hudson has not.

Still, I am totally in favor of universal healthcare, however it is achieved.

One might argue that healthcare in today's world is as basic a right as life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. But to me, the concept should rest on something less abstract and totally practical.

Here's my take in a nutshell: America’s greatest natural resource is its citizenry -- it’s workforce. The federal government should protect that resource above all others in every way it can that's feasible.

Reared in a literate, freedom-loving society, America’s sons and daughters work every day to build a good life. In their pursuit of happiness they establish families and build communities. Just as we have recognized that other vital natural resources need to be protected from amoral fast-buck artists, why would we not choose to also protect our families' wage-earners in the most effective way we can?

Otherwise, what's the point of protecting the water we drink, or the animals with which we share the planet?

Universal healthcare with periodic mandatory examinations is the only way to monitor the spread of dangerous diseases that could become epidemics, which could put the kibosh on the economy, to say the least.

Not long ago there was a scandal in America over poisonous toys that had been imported from China. It was found that some of the materials weren’t safe, health-wise, for children to handle. The toys were pulled off retailers’ shelves.

Those toys never made it into France. Like some other civilized countries, the French regulators never let the toys across the border, in the first place.

France had rigorous standards and inspections that kept those bad toys out of the curious hands and mouths of French kids. They didn't have to recall the dangerous products, because in France the standards were higher and the regulations were already in place. People were put before profits.


It’s actually simple -- France picks up the tab on everybody’s hospital bills.

Since France’s government has a stake in keeping French children healthy, its government naturally feels obliged to move proactively to reduce risks. One day those French kids will either be healthy, or unhealthy, workers. In this sense, France is doing more to protect its future workforce than we are.

When the government pays the healthcare bills, it follows that it will take more of an interest in protecting everyone’s health. So, who is not for protecting the American workforce's health? And, who is just pursuing the fast buck?

-- 30 --


Shaun Kenney said...


I have to say, that's a pretty good argument right there. A great one, actually.

Have to let that roll around the ol' noggin for a bit. Great argument.


F.T. Rea said...

Thanks, Shaun.

Anonymous said...


I am in total agreement with you on the need for and fairness of universal health care, and the government having a hand, even a controlling one, in that process. However, I must point out one place where your argument doesn't resonate with my thoughts. We protect the water, animals, and quality of our environment because they are declining resources (by our own hand in most cases), whereas, at 300 million and growing, it is hard to see our citizenry in that same light. Our unequally distributed health care system seems to be doing a perfectly adequate job of saving us from infectious disease epidemics, although I'll grant that it hasn't reached the zero-risk level that many in our society seem to be in search of these days. BTW, I don't include you in that group. Finally, having not been a wage earner for the past 9 years, I'm not sure how I figure into your "protect our families' wage-earners" argument;-)

Ernie Brooks
Washington, DC

F.T. Rea said...

Ernie, good to hear from you.

I believe we protect the environment, to the extent that we do, mostly because society finally accepted that resources are not infinite. The means to sell that idea was to focus on the worst-case scenarios.

Now today's greed-driven culture is conveniently cynical about such threats. Like, it's cold outside (haha!), what global warming?

Anyway, my original point was that once you realize that there must be some government regulation -- for the sake of the commonweal -- eventually that logically takes you to universal health care, for a number of reasons.

But when we're talking about money, which is all insurance is about, then the government ought to put a high priority on protecting its moneymakers.