Vail Daily letter: Continue the debate
Vail, CO, Colorado
I previously commented on the primary importance of cost cutting in the formulation of any health care legislation and encouraged a continued dialogue (July 28).
That dialogue has continued with our friends over their dining room tables or in restaurants as we share a meal.
One of the benefits of living in the Vail Valley is that a number of your friends tend to be health care professionals or other well-informed and opinionated professionals.
And retirement brings time for extended discussion.
Of course, the dialogue continues in the media. In the past several weeks, I’ve concluded that three more components need to be part of the debate: compassion, civility and a constructive approach.
Compassion: I think it’s important to note that this debate is about health CARE. One of our doctor friends commented, “I am first a doctor and second a businessman.”
He passionately cares for his patients, not only his paying ones but those unable to pay. He cares. He is a man of compassion, and if he weren’t, he wouldn’t have selected the medical profession.
This is contrary to some who enter this discussion from a point of “I’m happy with my coverage. I like the system as it is. Why should we threaten a system that works for me by covering a group of people who are just out for a handout?”
I don’t disagree that there may be a group of people who are gaming the system. But because these abuses exist, does that mean we shouldn’t have some empathy for those honest citizens who do need help?
Can we not meet the challenge of defining an approach that addresses these abuses?
The basic premise of Obamacare (if you choose to call it that) is that every American citizen deserves a cost-effective health care plan. I care that our country is one of the few in the developed world that does not offer some level of coverage to every one of its citizens.
I believe that every health care professional in this country cares. So let’s come to the table and begin the discussion from a point of compassion.
Civility: From my point of view, what has gone wrong with our political process is lack of civility.
It used to be that our legislators, even in times of highly polarized discussion, could still get together and do the “over the beer” thing in after hours.
Emotions are running deep in this current debate. But let’s take the time to share perspectives, understand the other’s point of view and learn in the process with the idea that together we can build a better mousetrap. There is a place for political protest. But let’s grow up and realize that sign carrying, sloganizing, demonizing and shouting aren’t going to solve the problems. It makes for good media, but that’s about it.
Construction: Let’s build something rather than tearing something down. Once upon a time (back in the ’70s), I was an entry-level management consultant with a Big Eight CPA firm.
My peers and I all wanted to demonstrate just how talented and worthy we were by criticizing the partnership and its solutions to our clients’ problems. The lesson we were taught was: “If you are a squeaky wheel, you get to fix the problem, so let’s hear the better solution.”
The same goes for this debate. I greatly admire anyone (and I do have one friend who has actually attempted to read the pending legislation) who has at least done the homework and outlined all the undesirable issues.
That is the right first step. But let’s not stop there.
I would like to challenge everyone who cares strongly about this debate to define the top five initiatives that they believe will contribute to fixing what I think most will agree is a less-than-optimal system.
I am putting that challenge to myself as well.
So over the next few weeks of August, let’s be compassionate, civil and positive and continue the discussion.
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