Friday, September 11, 2009

back on topic, people

Yes, we all know that the outburst was highly irregular and a huge no-no for elected representatives. We all have a pretty good idea why President Obama was denied a basic respect granted to every other president in the history of the republic, and grasp the significance of that denial emanating from a representative of South Carolina. It was also not lost on most of us that a Louisiana congressman delivered the rebuttal from Strom Thurmond's old office.

But let's be honest: this is all just political theater. It's bullshit, easily digestible fluff that keeps us from having to talk about an issue that requires thinking.

You know what we don't know?

We don't know what kind of coverage Obama envisions the public option providing. Will it provide coverage for dental cleanings? Eye exams? Anyone have a ballpark estimate on the deductible? The copay? Will it be able to negotiate lower drug prices?

We don't know what the role of Medicaid will be under this new system. After all, Medicaid was created to handle precisely this problem of the poor lacking access to basic healthcare. Will it be scrapped, boosted, what?

We don't know who will be responsible for the public option. Will its administration fall under the federal Dept. of Health and Human Services? Will it be run by the states? A wholly new and separate entity?

We don't know how the Administration plans to enforce the individual mandate on buying health insurance. How will they check to see if we're covered? What happens if someone refuses to purchase it? Will they go to jail?

We don't know what measures, if any, will be taken to address the problem of astronomical premiums for malpractice insurance. Sure, Democrats and liberals are (rightly) suspicious of attempts to curb the ability of regular people to seek damages when they are significantly hurt, maimed, or killed, and apparently the number of lawsuits and amount of damages has been on the decline since the early '90's, but it is clear that high malpractice premiums and the overly common practice of defensive medicine are significant factors in the high cost of healthcare.

We don't know what measure, if any, will be taken to address the exorbitant and unmitigated cost of medical school. The NHSC is a great first step, but the vast majority of doctors are still starting out in the field hundreds of thousands of dollars in the hole from school loans, which undoubtedly affects the amount they have to charge for services.

These are pretty basic questions thought up by some wanker on the intarwebs with no inside knowledge of the medical field whatsoever, and yet here we are, past the time of debate and at the "time to act," and there have been (to my knowledge) no attempts even to ask these questions of our representatives, let alone answer them.

And why is that? Because every time the president spends an hour of primetime television trying to bring us back on topic, the conversation gets derailed even before he gets off the air onto Henry Louis Gates, and civility in the House, and death panels, and socialism, and abortion, and the stupidity of Republicans yelling to keep the government out of Medicare.

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