I have never had more than a passing interest in politics; however, since the beginning of the Obama administration I have begun to pay a little more attention. One of the fundamental topics on the forefront, of both election campaigns, was healthcare. The core of the issue is how involved should government be and who, exactly, is best served. On the surface it seems that President Obama believes that the millions of people who live in America will be guaranteed healthcare if their leader (i.e. the federal government) directs healthcare decisions. Mitt Romney, on the other hand, appeared to be suggesting that businesses such as insurance companies should be able to employ the same free enterprise practices they currently enjoy and that if all Americans don’t get healthcare – so be it.
Of the many things in life that directly correlate to one another, applying the free enterprise business model to healthcare is not among them. If all decisions involving healthcare are viewed in terms of what best serves insurance companies and the like, then on some level, patient outcomes are affected. Usually the outcome is multi-factorial, some are good and some are bad; but in the end, if you ask the patient, their needs are often not met. When one takes this conservative approach, ultimately the bottom line is that healthcare businesses are primarily served. If, on the other hand, you liberally approach medicine as an inalienable right of every citizen, the perspective of President Obama, then people become important and their healthcare is enhanced. On the conservative side, the idea is that if you centralize the process and let the government control healthcare, it will somehow hamper the enterprise of medicine and ruin the incentive that money provides to make a company strive to be the best and offer the most to it’s patients. Frequently, what actually happens is that the enticement of monetary gain undermines the idea of “patient first” in the company view and drives the endeavor to make more money.
To elucidate my point, I will describe a scenario that played out all too often in our household when I was growing up. My mother would bring home a very delectable snack like a pack of Oreo cookies. If she was extremely tired or had her focus elsewhere, she might open the cookies and leave us to our own devices as to how they were divided up. In this situation, the younger or physically inferior siblings would frequently not have the benefit of this delicious confection. An alternate scene would be that my mother would elect two of the older siblings to have the task of allocating the cookies to everyone else. This consistently resulted in an uneven distribution of cookies to a favorite sibling or one who would benefit the distributor. Most often was the scenario in which my mother would oversee the division of cookies. For the overall family dynamic this worked out best in that all children received cookies, although some individuals were not entirely happy with their allotment.
If each individual state in the union is left to its own devices, the overall effect is that the cohesiveness of the idea of “United States” is undermined and the least amount of people benefit. If the power of the federal government is relegated to the House and the Senate, then those states that have the most say in the healthcare industry will likely receive the most in regards to healthcare benefits. If however, the Office of the President is one that truly cares about the people entrusted to him, then beyond doubt the overall dynamics of the United States is best served and we all benefit in the end. And as always, Only by God, the Almighty and All Glorious, can we be healed!