For the rest of the world, our present arguments about health care reform must be a source of amusement, if not confusion. How can America, of all places, pretend that health care is a commodity, and not a right? Who else (except US corporations) would dare try to profit by denying coverage to those who already “paid for it?” Sigh. “Inane” does not even come close as a descriptor.
Most of our news coverage has centered around a Baucus plan that seems intent on maintaining the worst parts of both the status and the quo. Every day we see Democrats caving in to the slightest, weirdest, and most offensive GOP slight and complaint. So far, the only thing that is guaranteed is that no one will be happy with the final result.
My concern is not about the political process. Legislation (especially its birthing process) is always messy. My concern is how small minded and irrational the Democrats have been, and continue to be. It is as though they set aside their brains, and simply looked at the history of health care, trying to minimize past problems.
Back in Thomas Edison’s time, today’s Congress would be concentrating on gas-based lamp lighter legislation, and how to best insure lamp lighter companies’ market share and profits. Electricity? Electric lights? Bah.
Ever since Watson and Crick stole some x-ray images from a far more talented female scientist, the vacationing Rosalind Franklin, science and medicine have been moving ever closer to each other. They may eventually meet, probably in our lifetime.
For many generations, medicine was merely an art. In fact, the very first medical guidebook is a lovely tome, filled with allegory, fear, incest, rape, murder, and much more. Some people call it their bible. I call it mostly fiction. Still, the bible does present the best thinking about medicine and health issues of its time. Blood transfusions, shell-fish born illnesses, limited hygienic understanding, and much more were discussed, because they could at least identify some cause, if not actually solve the problem.
Over the past 25-30 years, we have jumped from guesswork and experimentation, to true insights into the genetic basis of disease, heredity, illness, and how to prevent, cure, or at least alleviate the worst symptoms of many conditions. While future medicine may not fix drunk driver-based, back injuries and broken bones, (then again, it may), most other conditions are prime candidates for cures or at least, major league fixes.
Here’s where the Democrats are ineffably stupid. (Forget the GOP. They are too busy orbiting one of Saturn’s more distant moons to have any serious input on real legislation)
NOT ONE PROPOSAL takes into account the obvious future of medicine, diagnosis, treatment, prevention and cures. Even now, stem cell treatments are being tried, to prevent a future illness or condition. Given that our current state of genetic science is akin to homo-apians knocking together two piece of stone in hopes of starting a fire, many early results have been less than stellar, while continuing to show promise. I wonder how many years it took our distant relatives to find that flint worked the best. Well, our growth curve is far shorter. The future is truly within our grasp. Unless you work in Congress.
Any reasonable future health care program must include a well-defined path for the ethical, appropriate, and effective use of genetic diagnosis and treatment. Genetic medicine holds incredible promise, just as it contains huge traps, and worse. During my last semester of college, the guy next door was the biggest drug dealer on campus. As far as I could tell, he never slept. He also once claimed to “taste” everything he sold. His only goal? To get into medical school, then concentrate on making genetic monsters. I gladly lost track of him after he graduated, having been admitted to a California med school. Nuts? Yup. Dangerous? Sure thing. Brilliant? He was, bar none, the smartest people I ever met. Which makes him and his ilk even more dangerous.
The danger exists. But so does the promise. That makes Congress’s failure to even consider genetic engineering, cloning body parts for transplant, and finding cures for deadly conditions even more ridiculous.
Wait. It gets worse.
If we are stupid enough to continue with private, for profit, health insurance for our conceivable future, we must ban any exclusions, rejections of coverage, and denial of claims based on a person’s genetic potential for illness. The idea that an insurer can demand a blood test, and 10 minutes later write a specific insurance policy that excludes every genetic malfunction that your body will eventually have is more than scary. It is ineffably stupid.
To date, after reviewing every page of legislation that I could find, not one pol has even raised a question about genetics, stem cells, or the related sciences, much less propose legislation that takes into account our most promising biological and medical science.
Are they that dumb? (sorry. bad question) Or has the insurance industry thrown up so much dust, that legislating our near future scientific findings is just too difficult for our mentally and ethically deficient senatwhores and congresscritters?
Frankly, if corporations and insurers effectively control our lives for the foreseeable future, it will lead to the death of our great American experiment.
Corporations and “for profit” insurers once served a good purpose. Today, their power and concentration of wealth is no longer an advantage, but a threat. Does anyone think that today’s health insurer will ignore genetics, and voluntarily refuse to exclude “pre-existing conditions” from your policy? When such an exclusion will guarantee an increase of their own profits?
Hell, every day we learn that C-sections, domestic violence, and other common situations are now being defined as “pre-existing,” and therefore not covered under health insurance policies. In view of today’s reality, Washington’s silence on genetics is deafening. And depressing.
Worst of all, few congresscritters have shown any interest in being educated. They are too busy getting all those K Street contributions.