The National Catholic Review
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The biggest obstacles to health care reform have little to do with legislation currently being considered by Congress. Obstacles like rising unemployment, a growing number of home foreclosures and the continuing economic instability are currently being magnified by an underlying public fear about the future. That fear is manifest in the ferocious disruptions of town-hall meetings with members of Congress, urged on by opponents of reform. Long exploited to stoke the “war on terror” and to combat “big government,” fear of the future seemed to many to have been conquered with the last presidential election. But now, given the ill effects at home of the global recession, fear is making a comeback.

President Obama’s economic stimulus has kept the financial tsunami from hitting with full force, and some economists claim that the Great Recession has bottomed out. Even so, many people are still suffering from its effects. And suffering is what voters see when they look at the data on foreclosures and unemployment, expected to reach 10 percent nationally in 2010 and already higher than that in some places. Voters still worry about the sagging value of their life savings and their home equity. Many look to President Obama to lead the nation out of the recession, but find it too early to assess his effectiveness. If all the efforts made by Mr. Obama and his team since January have not yet stabilized our economy, many wonder, will his ideas work for health care? The public needs convincing signs of economic recovery. As it waits for an upturn, the public appears to have suspended its hopes for the government’s broader agenda, including health care.

What happened? As recently as mid-June, according to a New York Times/CBS national poll, respondents indicated overwhelming support for substantial health care reform; they also favored a tax increase to extend health coverage to all Americans. Nearly three-quarters, including half of those who identified themselves as Republicans, favored a government-run insurance plan to compete with private insurers. Since then, however, more jobs have been lost, long-term unemployment has grown, and foreclosures have risen despite incentives given to banks to modify loans; many states are in fiscal distress and are considering tax increases. While waiting for the economic stimulus to work, voters have become more susceptible to the spread of misinformation by some opponents of reform, like Glenn Beck, Bill O’Reilly and Sarah Palin, who have taken advantage of the vacuum of hard information on health care to stir doubts about the president’s leadership.

Both major parties, focused on the coming 2010 Congressional election, know that the failure or success of health care reform, as well as progress on the economy, could determine the outcome of that election. As a result, partisanship is overtaking Congress even as it works on the reform bills. Ideological opponents have resorted to groundless fear-mongering, like the “death panel” rumor, to destroy any chance of success with health care reform, despite the benefits it could bring the country as a whole.

Passage of a strong health care reform bill could allay one of the deepest legitimate fears Americans have: that of going bankrupt because of illness. Currently, insurance companies can refuse coverage, drop coverage or raise premiums beyond reach for those with a pre-existing condition. The proposed House reform bill would outlaw such practices. Just as auto insurance is currently required of vehicle owners, the bill would require health insurance of individuals and employers; it would offer subsidies for those with low incomes and small businesses. It would also cut waste and curb costs. If the majority party were to pass such legislation without the help of Republicans, it might secure Democratic leadership for years. Such reform would also exemplify the change a majority thought they had embraced when they voted for Mr. Obama: a fairer, more compassionate America.

Health care reform would not solve the job or housing crisis, or send stocks soaring. But it would add the United States to the roster of developed nations with universal health care, where no family need be bankrupt or homeless because of illness or injury. Both parties understand that passage of an effective reform bill would have major political significance. That is what drives the misinformation campaigns and the scare tactics now reaching a fevered pitch.

Finally, Mr. Obama is correct to point out the relationship between health care reform and economic recovery. For the soaring costs of health care insurance and delivery, if unchecked, are unsustainable; they will leave us mired in debt. That is one more reason why these obstacles—joblessness, foreclosures, economic instability, fear of the future and partisanship—must be overcome, and why a strong health reform bill must be passed.

Comments

Margaret Kaffka | 9/6/2009 - 3:20pm

I turned on c-span to watch some town hall meetings in the hope of learning more about the health care and insurance bill under discussion. 

There were people present who went beyond having a right to speak their mind to being disruptive and not giving me, the viewer, a chance to learn about the proposing of a bill.  How can anyone ask questions if they don't know the topic at hand?  I knew there was something phony going on for it appeared to be organized.

Then I picked up a copy of this editorial on my way out of Mass and came home to read it.  It is an excellent editorial.  What answered my question, and I will quote here:  "Both parties understand that passage of an effective reform bill would have major political significance.  That is what drives the misinformation campaigns and the scare tactics now reaching a fevered pitch."  Thank you for the missing piece of data! 

So as Americans, we are not on the same page.  There are those who have compassion for those dying daily because of the lack of health care and there are those who want things to stay the same because they are making big bucks on the backs of the sick and poor.  Yes, this is a complicated issue but basically this is our problem whether we are Catholic or not.  There are plenty of Catholics who are in favor of the death penalty and lack of health care for the Americans being laid off is the same as giving them the death penalty as I see it. 

Thank you for allowing me to have my say.

amjust sayin | 9/4/2009 - 2:37am
 "vacuum of hard information" seems to be the issue with the editors of this magazine and perhaps they too should listen to the becks and o'rileys (and palin of course) of the world.  the "misinformation" that these individuals have spread has resulted in the deletion of items that "were not" in the health care bill but were deleted none the less and thus far no one has come forward to set the record straight or correct any of the facts that these gentlemen from fox have presented to us.  appendectomies are not mentioned in the bill but i can almost guarantee you that they will be covered. Now, if abortion is not excluded from the bill it will be covered; as many politicians have admited. God bless the editors. charming naivete...  that and the obama charm at work :-)
and i know that you will not post my comment and that's ok.  as long as you read it...   
Chris Seeber | 9/3/2009 - 6:44pm

Marie,

I'm curious, why is your plan fair?  Flat taxes may be fair but are they just?  Consider this:  If we as a democratic society can force each other to pay for our collective health care should we not be allowed to force each other to live a healthy lifestyle?  If I have to pay for your health care why shouldn't you be expected (and forced) to exercise, maintain a proper weight, not smoke, drink very sparringly, have a monogomous hetersexual contact, and not participate in risky behavior including speeding?

One point about poverty and abortion for those interested in Ignation thought and not partisan rhetoric:  Compare the abortion rates of the 5 five poorest countries (total, per capita and per capita health care provider) and to the five richest countries and then try to construct a lucid, fact based conclusion that poverty correlates with abortion.  Any takers?

Chris Seeber | 9/3/2009 - 1:48am
Remember these two numbers fellow ignation scholars - 59 and 256 !  They are the number of Senators and Representative who caucus as Democrats.  There is nothing Republicans can do to stop Health Care Reform.  So what's the hold up?????
Joe Kash | 9/2/2009 - 9:59am
Sr. Veronica,
What are the causes of murder, rape, incest, robbery, and kidnapping?  Since all of these have societal causes/influences should we get rid of laws making these things a crime and just focus on the societal cause.  OR can one do both???  Why think so narrowly?
Why can't the left who are personally apposed both work for societal change but also make laws to protect the life of the innocent until those societal changes happen?
Obviously the previous administration did not succeed in overturning Roe.  But you cannot say they did not try with the two SCOTUS appointments.  To bad we could not get a third appointment had McCain won the election.
John | 9/1/2009 - 6:01pm
I see, so Catholic social teaching says generosity on behalf of the poor shall consist of taxing "the rich" and giving pennies on the dollar to the "poor" after skimming off a good chunk to pay for "the bureaucracy" which, since it's "public" precludes us from being able to evangelize these "poor" fellow Citizens who apparently don't have any responsibility in the matter, being, well, "poor".
Secondly, Bush's policies kept tax dollars from being used by Planned Parenthood to promote abortion in other countries. That ban has been lifted by Obama - and now they ARE receiving tax dollars to promote abortions...so yes, Bush's policy did save some lives or at the very least didn't bloody all our hands. Had he been given more support from so-called "Catholics" he might have gotten more pro-life judges approved too who would have been in place to fight for life. But no, that wasn't to be entirely because of "democratic" opposition in Congress. Now we are to believe Obama isn't going to do 'worse' than Bush because somehow poverty under Bush = more abortions while UNPRECEDENTED poverty under Obama is neutral?
Lots of "peace and Justice" Catholics have spent 40 years working "for the poor" while being Democrats. If their policies and programs were so wonderful and progressive, why is poverty, crime, failing schools and corruption so widespread in Democrat strongholds? Explain that to me before lecturing us on how unsuccessful Bush supposedly was on the pro-life front.
 
Marie Rehbein | 9/1/2009 - 3:01pm
     When most people buy health insurance, the idea behind it is a variation on trying to get something for nothing-just like gambling.  The idea is that the actual cost of medical care is probably more than I can afford, so I will buy insurance, which is a fixed, knowable amount and let money contributed by others make up the difference between what I can afford and what I want. 
 
     There are also people buying insurance who have the means to pay outright for the best medical care even if they were to fall ill with the most seriously expensive medical conditions.  These peope buy insurance so that they do not have to use their own wealth to restore their health.  It's a situation where if the rules permit taking advantage of the less wealthy, then let it be done.
 
     There is only one fair way to make sure people get the best medical care at a price they can afford.  That way does not include forcing people to buy insurance offered by insurance companies, the pricing of which is not sensitive to the means of the insurance buyer, but is based on complex formulae primarily intended to ensure that the insurance company stays solvent. 
 
     The only fair way to reform health care in the United States is to have each working US citizen contribute a percentage of his or her income into the national pot from which medical bills will be paid for all US citizens.  The percentage will vary depending upon how big the bills were in the previous year.  Elective medical procedures, like abortions or facelifts, would not be covered.
WILLIAM ANTONE OMI | 9/1/2009 - 10:51am
I am not surprised at the degree of misinformation contained in previous responses.Also at how little reference to the U.S.C.C.'s position on health care.Sadly, we as Catholics, even those of us who are definitly pro life,are not looking to our church for leadership; but rather are allowing ourselves to be manipulated by fear mongers, shills for the insurance companies and their minions, political hacks who see the legislative process as only a power game.. Thank you America, for provocative commentary
THOMAS KLEISSLER | 8/31/2009 - 11:26am
I read some of the comments to this articles and I find it difficult to believe how obstinate we can be. Since poverty is the major cause for abortions does anyone really believe that the policies of the last admisnistration reduced abortions? Incredible!
fin-tastic | 8/30/2009 - 10:33pm
The Jesuits seem to believe that consolidating ever more power in the federal government is the solution to all economic problems. This is fascism, plain and simple. I am relieved to see all the negative comments to this article.  Millions of Americans still believe in economic freedom and individual choice.  The angry outbursts at Townhall meetings are just the beginning. There is a revolution brewing in this country. If the socialists win, watch out. 
Jim Lein | 8/30/2009 - 3:08pm
Well said Sarah (#7).  Our current system is unsustainable.  75 million uninsured or underinsured and of these, 100,000 dying and 1million going bankrupt each year. How are we taking care of the unfortunate?  There are a group of super wealthy circulating a petition for higher taxes on themselves to fund better health care.  I think Bill Gates father is one of them.  Anyway, some have concern for the common good, if not those speaking from our pulpits.   
 
A good companion piece for this editoral is the commentary by James Surowiecki in the Aug. 31 New Yorker (p.29), "Status-quo Anxiety."  Anxiety over ANY change is being turned to irrational fear by lies and misleading ads benefitting big insurance.  Some estimate we will be paying 100 percent of our income for health care by 2025 if we fearfully clutch onto our present system.  Maybe then we will see the folly of no change nohow.        
Mary Hearn | 8/29/2009 - 10:59pm
In response to the Father who hosted a fundraiser for his friend with Lou Gehrig's disease. - You are right Father they would not do this in countries with socialized medicing because your friend would not recieve the type or amount of care that he recieves here.  It is a terminal disease and he would be given comfort measures.  In fact, what you describe is a more Christian way of dealing with disease - inidviduals coming together and making sacrifices and spending time with the sick.  I thought the church preached a doctrine that we each had to take responsibility for the people that God places in our lives and not just give it over to a faceless nameless bureaucracy to take care of people.  Paying taxes so that government can take care of the sick, homeless, lonely and dying is not what Jesus intended when he told us to take care of our brothers. 
SanAntonian | 8/29/2009 - 2:16pm
One of the things that may be confusing the debate about health care is the use of the terms "universal" and "insurance."   My understanding is that if the goal is universal access to health care, then the insurance model is entirely an inappropriate model.  The viability of insurance as a commercial enterprise (for profit, or even breakeven non-profit) depends on the implementation of actuarial analysis and the application of analytical results to the practice of risk underwriting.  But the application of risk underwriting requires the practice of selectivity as well as the calculation of appropriate premium levels.  Selectivity and universality would seem to be mutually exclusive.
Kevin Donnelly, M.D. | 8/29/2009 - 1:12pm
Several very simple measures will radically improve the availability and affordability of healthcare in the US. Mandatory health insurane coverage - we already do it with auto and home insurance. Allow employers to continue to give as a benefit with tax credits etc. Remove all barriers to ins. coverage - no state boundaries, no pre-existing clauses, etc.  Not only would I be able to cover my employees, but with competition in the marketplace, I would likely be able to cover their entire families! For those truly unable to afford medical insurance, we could expand already existing programs such as Medicaid.
Malpractice tort reform is mandatory. It is the cancer in the system that is going untreated. Unnecessary testing, overprescribing of meds, etc. would be significantly reduced.
Kevin Donnelly, M.D. AMDG
 
 
Noel Silberberg | 8/28/2009 - 8:46pm
The biggest problem is that most reformers are unfamiliar with the McCaeean-Ferguson Act of 1945. It was in this act that the Federal Government decided not to regulate the health care industry. Many state insurance commissioners, but not all, already regulate the problems you are talking about.
Let me define a preexisting condition that exists prior to buying any insurance. A person whose house is on fire cannot buy fire insurance while his house is burning. Likewise a person who finds out he has a chronic or terminal illness cannot then decide to buy health insurance.
What is insurance? Insurance is the transfer of risk from oneself to a professional risk taker, an insurance company.  Rates of fire insurance are calculated by actuaries as to how many fire claims will occur within a given set of insured. The all pay into a fund from which losses are paid. In health care the same calculations are made. Allowance is made that those least likely to get sick, the young, pay less than the old. You see as the body ages it becomes more vulnerable to disease. If maternity benefits are included women of childbearing age pay more than men or older women.
I would like the federal government to take over the duties and responsibilities of the individual state commissioners, reviewing rates, determining mandatory coverage and monitoring consumer complaints. I thing government makes in sports terms, a better referee than a player.
Since I am in the insurance industry, I limit myself only to that side of the problem.
Noel Silberberg | 8/28/2009 - 8:20pm
The biggest problem is that most reformers are unfamiliar with the McCaeean-Ferguson Act of 1945. It was in this act that the Federal Government decided not to regulate the health care industry. Many state insurance commissioners, but not all, already regulate the problems you are talking about.
Let me define a preexisting condition that exists prior to buying any insurance. A person whose house is on fire cannot buy fire insurance while his house is burning. Likewise a person who finds out he has a chronic or terminal illness cannot then decide to buy health insurance.
What is insurance? Insurance is the transfer of risk from oneself to a professional risk taker, an insurance company.  Rates of fire insurance are calculated by actuaries as to how many fire claims will occur within a given set of insured. The all pay into a fund from which losses are paid. In health care the same calculations are made. Allowance is made that those least likely to get sick, the young, pay less than the old. You see as the body ages it becomes more vulnerable to disease. If maternity benefits are included women of childbearing age pay more than men or older women.
I would like the federal government to take over the duties and responsibilities of the individual state commissioners, reviewing rates, determining mandatory coverage and monitoring consumer complaints. I thing government makes in sports terms, a better referee than a player.
Since I am in the insurance industry, I limit myself only to that side of the problem.
 
wise philosopher | 8/28/2009 - 6:33pm
"Mr. O'Reilly, Mr. Beck and Governor Palin are outstanding contributors to the national debate and are scrupulously honest"
David M. Ross - I hope that is a joke.  These three people are the most obvious example of what is wrong with the Republican Party.  To say they are "scrupulously honest" means you do not know enough about these people.  How about Bill O'Reilly's sexual harassment lawsuit?  Was Palin scrupulously honest when she was sworn in as governor of Alaska only to bolt for political reasons?  I won't even go into Mr. Beck.
Joe Kash | 8/28/2009 - 4:46pm
It would only be fair for America to be specific about the misinformation that has been spread by Glenn Beck, Bill O’Reilly and Sarah Palin.  I am particularly interested in the statements attributed to Bill O'Reilly.  Did America Magazine specifically witness this misinformation or are they spreading hearsay?
I suspect that America is just sloppy rather than malicious.
robert hunt | 8/28/2009 - 1:11pm
I suggest that you re-assign the summer intern from the local high school who penned this piece, and give your readership another go-round with one of your experienced editorialists.  The piece was regurgitated pabulum from the DNC. The eager lad might be better served by researching topics such as "Tort Reform", "Government Monopsony in Health Care Delivery", etc. prior to a re-write.
Denis Quinlan | 8/28/2009 - 11:21am
The question is why are many people who were previously in favor of healthcare reform now so strongly opposed to the changes that have been proposed.  That is the question - right?  For the answer just look and listen to what has been going on at the (now infamous) townhall meetings.  Some of the comments were expressed in an altogether civil and respectful manner, and some were not.  But there was a common theme and it all had to do with the perception of PERSONAL loss associated with healthcare reform.  The loss may be economic through higher taxes, or more difficulties and delays in access to providers, and at least for Medicare the curtailment of some services that are now available.  But the people are afraid.  They truly perceive loss coming directly at them with break neck speed.  The losses may be more than perseption, they could be REAL.  Now THAT is the issue and it needs to be debated honestly and openly.  The answers coming out of such a debate will tell the editorialist all he needs to know about why the people are uniting in oposition to healthcare reform.
Harry Larson | 8/28/2009 - 10:19am
In your editorial, "Obstacles to Reform," you use the same misinformation and omission of facts that you accuse the "opponents of reform" of perpetrating. All of the people you mention and many Catholics recognize the great need for health care reform. We also believe that health care is the right of every human being. The issue is not the need for reform, the issue is whether the proposed bills passed by the committees in Congress are the remedy. H.R. 3200 is the "stalking horse' currently being debated. This bill does not address abortion and therefore by default it would allow public funding of abortions. The compromise offered by some of the democrats on the committee is to have the Secretary of Health and Human Services approve or disapprove any abortion funding. This is almost laughable since our current secretary is a known proponent of abortion on demand including late term abortions. As a Catholic magazine, you should at the very least correctly state the Church's position. There are many other issues in these bills that should have an in depth debate. One of these is whether this country should pass legislation that would lead to a complete assumption of one-sixth of our economy by the same government that has overseen the imminent bankruptcy of Social Security, Medicare and Medicare. I look forward to your complete coverage on this vitally important issue.
John | 8/28/2009 - 10:06am
Recently Time Magazine, factcheck.org, and local DEMOCRAT Congressman Stupak have come out with articles detailing that in fact, abortion WOULD BE FUNDED under the House bill..... so who is spreading 'disinformation' here?
Then we have repeated statements from Planned Parenthood, NOW, NARAL pro-choice America that they support this bill....are we to conclude that it DOESN'T fund their activities? That the pro-abort plank in the Democratic party platform won't be involved?
This is why many of us are no longer Democrats, why many of us who were once "liberals" are now libertarian or conservative... the tendency to just assert things without backing it up with evidence and then demean anyone for daring to challenge us to 'back it up'. After away the cognitive dissonance just got too much for us. In one breath we called on the government to "keep out of my body" and in the next breath we called on government to pay for and regulate everything to do with "our bodies". We're told to hate 'big business' but then to embrace big government. To hate corporate execs, but love big union execs. To believe MLK's Dream Speech about being judged not for our skin color but character...but also embrace affirmative action which doesn't touch character at all but instead hinges entirely on skin color. We were told that there is no such thing as "evil" but then that Cheney and Haliburton are evil.
Now we're told to take on faith that there's nothing wrong with a 1,000 page bill...and there's no need for us to actually read it. That little old ladies are members of a mob, but SEIU members aren't mobish. That spontaneous crowds are 'astroturf' but paid for union members, ACORN, and Democratic party volunteers are "grassroots". Uh huh. Pardon me for just not accepting it anymore.
JOHN MCCARTHY MR | 8/28/2009 - 9:09am
Like many others, I was disappointed with America's editorial.  First, you derogated those who oppose the current Democratic bill.  Second, you said nothing about the Democrat's attempt to rush the bill through before any of us had a chance to think through its implications.  Third, you treat the bill as it it stands in isolation from other important concerns, such as the national debt and the risks of inflation. Fourth, you don't address the rationing issue (which is real) nor do you even mention the issue of abortion funding (is that now negotiable?). Fifth, you seem to accept the Democrat's position that their bill is budget neutral.  Please, my friends, wake up and small the coffee.
Mary Anne Hinchey | 8/27/2009 - 9:29pm
We are so used to listening to comments that are negative, and that someone - the government (which of course is us) - is doing this to us, that we are reluctant to view this as the terror within. I do think all this economic strife has its impact, but where are the words of hope? Can't we work together to deliver a hopeful message? Belittling another person or group is not only counterproductive, I think its sinful - maybe of the Original kind.
joe driscoll | 8/27/2009 - 6:45pm

While I strongly disagree with Rep Barney Frank and his politics, I had to applaud his handling of Rachel Brown at a town hall meeting in Dartmouth MA. Ms Brown, it seems, is a member of Lyndon LaRouche's PAC. And it also appears that quite a few people who attempt to disrupt such meetings are also followers of Mr. LaRouche. These people are not representative of any majority in this country. Mr LaRouche, however, would have you believe otherwise. So it seems that we're not necessarily seeing people who fear the future who disrupt town hall meetings, but rather people who blindly follow a wing nut.

I don't really fault Mrs Palin, Glen Beck, or Bill O'Reilly for the inaccurate statements they make regarding the current Health Care Reform proposals. They oppose the concept of any plan put forth by the Democratic Party. But I do fault those who blindly follow these pundits without checking on the accuracy of of any "facts" they put forth. It's sad that most Americans today prefer to be told what to believe rather than forming an intelligent opinion garnered from acquiring information on their own. These same people  will denigrate anyone who opposes their ill formed views by attacking the opposition rather than setting forth counter arguments. We have become a nation that thinks that he who shouts the loudest is the rightest.

I consider myself to be a moderate member of the Republican Party (if that's possible today). I have deep reservations concerning the current Congressional Health Care Reform proposals. But at least I've read them and realize that they are proposals, not the final product. I don't like the absence of specifics in many parts of the current proposals, nor do I have a warm fuzzy feeling that if any program ever gets enacted that over the years it will become a spaghetti sandwich due to congressional meddling.

So please,everyone, spare me the fact that you're "disappointed" with the "deplorable" article written by "elitist editors" who make "unwarranted and slanderous" statements. Tell me why you object by using facts, not dogma, not opinion. Please educate me with specifics. I know you object, but you haven't convinced me that you're right.

Pamela Fox | 8/27/2009 - 4:23pm
I am sincerely concerned with the Church's push toward Government Health Care. Why would we give up our freedoms to be dictated to by our government? And why would the Church not be frightened by this? I have often thought that if we, as Church, are concerned about the uninsured why don't we, as Church, provide? Why the government and not us?
(The reference in the editorial to Beck, O'Reilly and Palin was unnecessary, in my opinion.)
Patrick Kelly | 8/27/2009 - 4:11pm
Hello, I sent in an email last night and would like your input.  What do I need to change to make it acceptable to be printed.  Thank You, Patrick Kelly
MB | 8/27/2009 - 9:49am
But twenty-first century problems require more than eighteenth-century
rhetoric, and although I fear for the prospect of any public health
care option, part of me still hopes for an elevation of the public
debate. Amen, Amen.  Yes, I would prefer a dedicated public servant over a bottom line rules bureaucrat any day.  The health care plan that Congress has is government run, yet opponents say that Congress will foist something on the public that they wouldn't get themselves.  It is so obvious that both sides are creating 'drama' from nothing that it is easy to believe that money is at the bottom of their motive.  It is too bad that there is no one to trust anymore who can give real debating points.  Does it really matter if the death panel results from considered opinions of professionals or from economic factors beyond our control?  There is no way to challenge economic forces though one can challenge insurance companies and government officials.  The fact that the uninsured have to pay full cost while Medicare and Insurance Companies pay less than cost is a sin, but not a crime.  Perhaps we should go back to where individual compassion provided the money for health care.  The reason we don't is obvious.  American citizens could care less about the poor and that's why health care reform is having such difficulty.  People are afraid that might be forced to be compassionate.
John | 8/27/2009 - 9:23am

The problem with government vs. private bureaucrats is one of power and alternatives. If I get poor service from my private insurance plan I can complain and threaten to go to some other carrier. So can my company. If there's monopoly this "or else" doesn't exist. Further more, there's no incentives for GOVERNMENT bureaucrats to treat their 'customers' with TLC, patience, kindness or fairness. Plenty of experience with all levels of government has made many Americans upset about the lack of empathy. The attitude seems to be that we're burdens on their day...whereas private companies at least have the mindset that customers are essential so attitude is not long tolerated.

Secondly, there is a self-perpetuating inertia to all government. Whereas private companies respond to market forces, tax-payer funded entities continue to advance regardless of the economic situation....they get budget hikes in good times and bad. Again, there's no incentive for cost savings, efficiences, better techniques, etc. Look at the Post Office. DMV, VA and a host of other entities. People just don't like the concept that our 'public servants' tend to be better paid than the general public, and tend to have much more power and lee way than 'regular citizens'.

Finally, the class envy/warfare thing. Typically liberals look at SOME rich people with an envy bordering on hatred - as though the rich got wealthy by stealing from the poor. Meanwhile they endow government bureaucrats and programs with sainthood even though their entire operation is funded on the backs of the whole population.... No one forces you to purchase ANYTHING from a private company. But we are FORCED to pay taxes. Big big difference.

Patrick Kelly | 8/26/2009 - 8:48pm
How do you liberals show up in so many areas of the media.  This is the first time I have read anything from your magazine and totally disappointed.  It so obvious that you support an administration that is the most pro abortion bunch in our history.  They would have pushed through the healthcare bill without anyone reading it like they did the stimulus package.  We have too few people in the media fighting against such tactics as pushing through bills that no one has time to read.  I do not expect a so called Catholic run magazine to endorse a pro abortion administration that uses such tactics.  The health care bill has already had some of the garbage taken out, given time to read it and with the help of people like Gov Palen O'Rielly, Beck and Russ. Who is leading your magazine and what is their agenda?  Why would anyone with Catholic principles read any of your garbage.  We will hopefully get a bill that does take care of the problems of covering all Americans and we will if given time to read, debate.  Your party does have the votes to pass the bill.  I don't think they are listening to conservative media people to know this is a bad bill.  Why are you promoting it.  How is President Obama going to cut costs unless he restricts treatment for the elderly?  The Question really is as I started my comments, how do we get "Goofy" Catholic Liberals is such influencial positions as on your magazine.  I am sure you will be able to continue getting votes for a pro abortion party and a party that is not transparent in their dealings and goals, but why?  Catholic magazine - BULL!  Do you have a Mission Statement for your magazine?  Tell us what is more important than the abortion issue and having an honest transparent administration.  I see you promote Jesuit Volunteer Corps, well I think people could find a better place to do volunteer work. 
Chris Kuczynski | 8/26/2009 - 4:02pm
The primary problem with the health care debate at this point has been the inability of Democrats - who hold both houses of Congress by convincing majorities and the White House - to take bold action to resolve a national crisis with important moral and ethical implications.  Rather than pressing forward with an agenda of their own, Democrats have sought to be all things to all people, and in so doing have no identity at all.  You can be certain that if the roles were reversed, Republicans would be more disciplined and more united in their response. 
 
Like him or not, George W. Bush has forever changed the way we talk about Social Security by making discussion of privatization acceptable.  Though his plan failed - for now - any discussion of Social Security reform will always begin further to the right than it otherwise would have.  By contrast, the Democrats have taken off the table what I believe is the best option, a single payor system, before the health care debate ever began, meaning that every conversation about health care reform, like
every discussion about Social Security  will always begin further to the right than it otherwise would have.  Now, even a public option appears to be radically socialistic, thanks to the obfuscation on the part of some politicians and ignorance on the part of their hearers,  and will fail if Democrats insist on seeking bi-partisanship that the vast majority of Republicans have no intention of reciprocating.
 
As a government employee, I am disheartened to hear such negative talk about the inability of "government bureaucrats" to administer a health care system, or even part of one.  My experience has been that most government bureaucrats are intelligent, dedicated public servants of high integrity, and that political appointees tend more often to get in the way of efficient government administration.  I also find it interesting that much of the American public is willing to put its health care system in the hands of profit-motivated insurance company bureaucrats, apparently assuming that anything the private sector does will always be better than what the public sector can do, no matter the failures of the current health care system.  Of course, in a sense, this goes back to America's deep-seeded mistrust of government, dating back to the American Revolution.  But twenty-first century problems require more than eighteenth-century rhetoric, and although I fear for the prospect of any public health care option, part of me still hopes for an elevation of the public debate.
 
Christopher Mulcahy | 8/26/2009 - 3:55pm
What do you say to a still-wet immigrant who comes into a place of business with $20?   Answer: "Good morning (afternoon/evening), sir."
What do you say to an American who comes into a government-run hospital (office, institution, etc.) and wants a free service?   Answer:  This is your assignment to think about.
Meanwhile, ponder this:  Anyone who believes in government run health care in America in the 21st century, after the current debate, is guilty of culpable ignorance. 
 
Slavko PIHUT | 8/26/2009 - 11:42am

Welfare medical coverage does not work. (Check on the Internet about the mess with welfare coverage in the province of Ontario, Canada.) Here in US everyone receives medical coverage as of now. Hospitals and clinics cannot refuse patients without coverage. No one has died because he did not have insurance. More people die, as of now, in hospitals that DO HAVE insurance. I believe the latest statistics on that is 90,000(ninety-thousand) patients annually. No one has given us statistics that show how many people died that supposedly do not have insurance. The government should be concerned more on keeping the health care costs down. Welfare insurance will only bring higher taxes. Someone has to pay for it. In my case my children and my grandson (and his descendents) will be paying for this.

Bridget Reidy | 8/25/2009 - 10:29pm

The fact is, God knew us before we were conceived. My opinion is that that is what that verse of the Bible is really trying to say; just look at the context, but that is irrelevant to this discussion.

The editorial is trying to answer the question "Why were the majority in favor of reform but no longer?" I don't think it did a good job of answering that question.  (Economic fears should make us realize even more how precarious our "insurance" is, and illness in previously insured people is still the leading cause of personal bancrupcy.) I wish the commentators would at least try to address the operative question. The vehement objectors and their arguements were known of long ago but not their ability to persuade the middle at the last minute. Well maybe some knew, which would explain the president's attempt to avoid delay.

Obama's plan has been long considered to be the only viable compromise which is why he ran on it, and probably why he left out payment for abortion and illegal alliens, and why the criticism that it's too fast does not hold water.  Any much further compromise would be the equivalent of the incremental reform we've been experiencing for decades which only makes the system more complex, bureaucratic, and inconsistant in it's apparent aims.

Deacon Mike Evans | 8/25/2009 - 5:53pm
Just mention your support for health care reform and you can be sure to draw the irrational fire of the anti-Obama folk. They truly intend to see his administration fail and they are doing a Clinton redux, firing salvo after salvo of misrepresentation and outright lies to eliminate debate and send the current drafts on health care reform to oblivion. Let this not be a short-lived debate in the pages of America or Commonweal. Only both respected journals will be able to outline a path of common sense and common decency to the debate. We should be totally ashamed that a country as rich and blessed as the USA can't find a way to get this done.
Jim McCrea | 8/25/2009 - 5:51pm
David Ross:
 
If you sincerely believe that "Mr. O'Reilly, Mr. Beck and Governor Palin are outstanding contributors to the national debate and are scrupulously honest", then maybe you need to revisit your definition of 2 words:  scrupulous and honest.
Cecily SURACE | 8/25/2009 - 5:23pm

I was shocked to read that America believes the difficulties that health reform is experiencing is due to the public's listening to misinformation spread by Palin, O'Reilly, Beck, et al.  There are many informed Americans who have been following the debate on health care who don't think H.R.3200 or the Kennedy Senate bill are the answer.  Many of us want to reform health care and want to do it in an incremental and studied way, which will not throw the good that is in the private health system with the dirty bath water. Further, fear of a public plan is real.  We have only to look at the near-bankruptcy of Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid, and the financial crisis so many of the nationalized health programs in Canada and Europe are experiencing, and the rationing and long wait for services in these countries.

We do not need to rush into a health care reform bill that addresses all things.  We need to fix what is wrong and expand coverage to the uninsured, who it turns out, for various reasons, may be a lot fewer than we're being told.  We need to eliminate prior health condition as a reason for denying coverage.  We need to reform the tort system so doctors can perform their duties without fear of becoming bankrupt.  And, we do not need government to interfere in our very personal decisions regarding life and death.

Fr. Dennis Kriz, OSM | 8/25/2009 - 2:22pm
However one looks at the proposed solutions to our nation's health care crisis, I just want to mention that our parish is throwing a benefit this weekend for a coach at elementary school, who at the prime of his life came down with ALS (Lou Gherig's disease).  I personally see the throwing of such Benefits in the United States as both a sign of emblematic American generocity as well as of American desperation.  For good or ill, I simply can not imagine either the _desire_ or _need_ on the part of people in other industrial countries such as Germany, England or France for throwing similar benefits for their loved ones in need.  One can use the same information to say that "we care more" (and perhaps we do) or say that we are a society that "still forces our ill to beg" (and perhaps this is true as well). 
If you want to contribute to this cause AND AGAIN IT DOES NOT MATTER _AT ALL_ ON WHERE YOU STAND ON THESE "CEREBRAL ISSUES" of "HEALTH CARE REFORM," you can contribute to our "Miracle for Morso" campaign at: [url=http://www.miracleformorso.org]http://www.miracleformorso.org[/url] 
Thomas | 8/25/2009 - 12:57pm

Dear "America,"

Are you really a Catholic organization?  I ask this only because your support of public funding for government health care will CERTAINLY lead to more public funding for abortion through this vehicle.  Something, by the way, that Mr. Obama strongly supports.  In fact, past statements he has made and votes he has cast leave no doubt about this.  I thought abortion is something the Catholic Church opposes, but perhaps I'm mistaken.  Or perhaps this is an organization that not all Catholics support, although your organization's name would lead one to believe otherwise.

By the way, the Bible clearly indicates that God knew and loved you as you were knit in your mother's womb. Personally, I believe any Christian who doesn't believe abortion is wrong has simply not studied the bible in its original languages, or has ignored the connection for personal or convenience. Although the Bible doesn't directly mention "abortion," the implications that God knew you before you were born are indisputable.

Proceeding with logic from that viewpoint, it is not difficult to understand why so many believe this is another Holocaust-and that they want no part of it.  In fact, they wish to stop it. As an aside, the Catholic Church strongly condemns the Holocaust today, but at the time, its opposition was anything but universal. I also believe the Catholic Church and its leadership love God and wish to follow His leadership and that of his Son. Are we really going to repeat history here?

Jan Baker | 8/25/2009 - 12:18pm
Lowell, you rule!
JOHN RYAN MR | 8/25/2009 - 3:33am
I almost laughed out loud seeing the America editors lay the blame for the current healthcare reform debacle at the feet of TV pundits and the former governor of Alaska.  As serious proponents of the much needed reform of our healthcare system, a widely supported view by the way, you should be pointing the finger at the person most responsible for this sad state of affarirs, the President himself and not his critics.  Even his most ardent supporters now realize he has gone too far in setting an agenda that will not only break the bank but ruin what there is of a healthcare system in this country.  Furthermore he himself has pooled out more misinformation with his many non-scripted gaffes than all his critics combined. And it would seem, you have swallowed it all.
 
JJ | 8/24/2009 - 11:51pm

I don't subscribe to your magazine. I came here to see what the flagship Jesuit publication had to say in the health care debate.  On this important matter, in this special moment of the debate, I expected so much more from your editorial. 

The best and the brightest among you in the press keep ignoring the elephant in the room (Big Insurance). You focus on relatively minor improvements on the periphery. After you criticize the trash media types, easy targets, what are you for, specifically? What is central to health reform? What has been central to the failure of our health care system so far? Will you lose your readership if you dare say it? Does "America" depend on money from Big Insurance or well-bonused Catholics among the Masters of the Universe to pay the printer every month?

At this stage of the debate, it seems one must hear from teachers, bold and plain spoken and not in awe of a milquetoast president or the corporations he serves, that a single-payer system would be best--as it is now and has long been in just about every other advanced nation on earth. Senator Baucus and the Blue Dogs say the single payer system is off the table. Editorialists speaking out here and there could put the single payer option right back on the table if they did not suffer from the same passivity that will undo Obama. Too Bill Moyers? Too messy and confrontational for the likes of "America"? 

At very least--and this might be addressed next time by your editorial staff--let's be clear: there will be no real reform without a robust public option in the bill that eventually goes to the president.

Richard Steffy | 8/24/2009 - 11:40pm
First, human beings hate being told what to do, especially American ones. Mandatory health insurance!? Second, good legislation generally comes from debate and compromise between the two major parties in Congress. Notice I said good legislation. Your battle cry for the Democratic Party to charge ahead without the support of the Republicans is disheartening. So much for bringing the Red and Blue states back together again.
Richard Steffy | 8/24/2009 - 11:34pm
Peter Hanrahan | 8/24/2009 - 9:48pm
I am quite disappointed in your mass media type indorsement of the health bills so far presented. How can you support plans that are by all analysis financially bankrupt? And, please enumerate for me present and past government run programs that are efficient, well regulated, and financially solvent...I can't think of any. Eliminating fraud, waste, and abuse are smoke dreams. Have you Mr. Editor tried reading the House Bill? It is incredibly difficult to read and understand because it is written to be interpreted by government lawyers not the public. It is no wonder our representatives don't read the bills and understand the implications. It should be law that proposed bills be written in plain English. It is obvious that health care can use some reforms but why not support real reform where it is needed. Stop endorsing gobbledegook and the dishonest portrayal of reasoning people who disagree with what is being fed them.
Mark Bruder, CRNP | 8/24/2009 - 7:44pm
Are you all the President's press agents? Please stop with the partisanship. How about the abortion, IVF, and other life issues regarding the 'health care monolith' and Catholics? Death panals may not be spelled out in the bill, but it does not outlaw rationing, which amounts to the same thing! Get your head out of the sand, smell the dead roses and I'll be deleting 'America' from my news sources. I'll catch it on MSNBC.
Michael Barberi | 8/24/2009 - 7:40pm

I have spent over 30 years in the group health insurance field as an Insurance Executive, a Senior Partner in a World-Wide Consulting Firm and as a Senior Vice President for a Pharmacy Benefit Management Company. Now retired, I am for health care reform. However, many of the health reform bills have significant consequents that most citizens, and members of Congress, do not adequately understand. Even worst is the fact that some politicans are ignoring these implications because of political advantage, blind faith to their party's philosophy, or ignorance.

I agree with some of the points described in your editorial. However, the article does not mention the most controversial elements of the proposed legislation that are fueling opposition to it. Based on my experience, politics is part of the problem.  However, the following issues are most responsible for the out-cry over the current health care bills. 

1.  The Government Plan and Private Insurance Plans are expected to compete with each other......but not on a level-playing field. The Government Plan is expected to  reimburse physicians and hosptials like Medicare. By some estimates, Medicare pays hospitals 7% under costs and pays phsicians about 19% under costs.  Today, hospitals and physicians make up the Medicare short-fall by charging higher prices to private payers. Just think what will happen when the Government Plan insures 50,000-100,000+ people! It will result in health industry consolidations, massive layoffs and irresponsible cost-shifting. Ultimately the Government Plan will effectively transform the current health care system into a predominately single-payer system and the problems that go with it.  An alternative to a Government Plan is health insurance co-operatives. For many reasons, beyond the scope of this reply, health insurance co-operatives will not work. Not enough critical mass, local and regional in design, and without legal induced pricing and reimbursement advantages, such as Medicare enjoys. Of course, Medicare is marching towards bankruptcy.

2. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has reported the Health Care Reform bills before Congress will increase costs over the next 20+ years, not decrease them! The CBO report was an embarassment to the Obama administration and the Congressional Democratics. So, what did they do? They ignored the CBO report and decided to rely on their own rosy forecasts. Most average Americans, that disagree with the current proposals, don't believe you can cover an additional 47 million Americians and expect to pay for it from controversial future cost savings and higher taxes. Most experts believe that future cost savings are signifantly over-stated. What will happen if costs continue to rise, as in the past, and anticipated cost savings don't materialize? Well the Government will do what they always do. Read on.

3. In order manage the cost increases of the Government Plan, an explicit or implicit cap on such cost increases are anticipated. Eventually this will lead to the rationing of health care services as in Great Britain and Canada. If a vaguely worded bill passes Congress and is signed onto law by O'bama, the rules, regulations and operating principles of the Government Plan will be left to government buracratics. The thought of this freightens most people.

4.  While conservative talk-show hosts, like Bill O'Reilly, are critical of the bills before Congress, calling them "opposers of reform" was without specifics. O'Reilly in particular has stated many times he is in favor of reform. His beef is the lack of answers to legitimate questions. President Obama himself and the Democratic Congress has yet to explain, in easily-understandable language, how these health care reform proposals will work.  As your editorial has pointd out, it is also true that Congressional Republicans are playing politics as usual. However, as recent polls have shown, a majority of people are growing increasingly unhappy with all our elected officals. 

5.  Lastly, covering people with no insurance and those that lack the financial means to afford it, is reflective of my beliefs as a Catholic. This includes the 12 million illegal immigrants that O'bama wants to cover. However, covering 12 million illegal immigrants without immigration reform is irresponsible. Both should be handled under an Immigration Reform Bill. Let's hope this happens. I pray that effective health care reform becomes a reality soon. 

Patricia Pavlucik | 8/24/2009 - 7:12pm
Government run healthcare is not the answer or the fix to what is ailing our healthcare system.  Mr. Obama is an excellent communicator but his rhetoric is insubstantive and makes no sense to the walking around citizen.  Those people who attend the various townhall meetings and voice their concerns have the right to speak up, even if their comments don't support what he's selling.  The cost of his plan will bankrupt this nation, and even the budget office figures don't correlate with his numbers.  And, by the way, I am not a fan of Limbaugh or Beck, but main stream media such as the WSJ certainly have respected writers who seem to be able to articulate  concerns very clearly.  Yes, we do need reform, but definitely not what is being proposed out of Washington at this time.  And, definitely, we do not need or want a system that looks anything like systems in the UK, France or Canada!
 
 
Marcia Wood | 8/24/2009 - 6:26pm

Once again it's evident that the person writing this article didn't quite do their homework.  Before defending this healthcare reform, please read the 1,000 pages and after that take a deep breath, because you're not going to be quite so pro-healthcare reform.

The recession hasn't even started to bottom out in Arizona, besides all of the foreclosures, businesses closing their doors, extremely high unemployment that is verging on 15%, school districts who don't have enough funds to make it thru the school year. 

Yet, another ungly problem has raised its head - over 13% of the homeowners with conventional loans are either losing their homes or behind on mortgage payments.

So before we jump on the Obama bandwagon - study the facts. Look around your state, ask questions and then ask why no jobs, why is the unemployment rate still climbing, why did Obama offer a ridiculous home modification program that is already going down the tubes, why did he offer a "Cash for Clunkers" program that's going to bite us in the fanny before Christmas of 2009?

Our government has crucified us under Obama's short 7 months and he's been playing the drum for all to hear and marching to a "tune of no return."

As Always, Annie

Joseph P Kiernan, MD | 8/24/2009 - 6:22pm
The current difficulty with President Obama's plans for health care overhaul have foundered because:
American have lost faith with the president: 1.  His other programs (stimulus, cap and trade, cash for clunkers) have been ineffient, poorly run, wealth transfer programs;  2. He made a huge political point in his campaign that he would govern differently, more bipartisan and with new ideas:  but he has the same re-tread liberal ideas pursued in an agressively partisan manner with agressively partisan rhetoric.  3.  He has run up deficit spending to the highest percentage level ever in peacetime (just raising dramatically his own 10 year forcast) 4. and, to the point, he has been disengenuous about his health care proposals.
His health care system will have rationing (all socialized systems do)                    
His health care system will have 'death panels' (called something differentt)
His health care system will run people out of their own private insurance (my 35 employees will be switched the day the bill is signed).
His health care system will cover abortion (a substantial majority of voters-though maybe not America editors-think that we should not be forced to use tax dollars to pay for abortion).
His health care system will be as efficient as other government agencies (read Post Office)
His health care system will not save money, it will cost more money; we cannot cover 50+ million more people at current spending levels.
His health care system will leave many people still without insurance.
His health care system will hurt research because he excoriates the 'profit motive'.
So President Obama has created quite a mess for himself, and despite generally accepted feeling among Americans that something should be done to help those without insurance, it seems likely that he will fail.
Could President Obama have succeeded?  Are Americans really in favor of socializing medicine  to the extent of including themselves in the deal?
And should Catholics be in favor of a system that helps the truly uninsured, I think that  the answer is a resounding "yes"! 
Let's put together a system based on Western beliefs of freedom, not those that are a poor cousin to Karl Marx.

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