deathwarrantaflciohealthcareThe healthcare debate has motivated more people to become involved in our political process than any similar issue in memory.  I often wonder why.

First, I wonder because it is not, by a country mile, our most pressing national issue.  It probably doesn’t even make the top five.  The fact is that everyone has access to healthcare services, even if it is costly, inefficient and provided by emergency rooms.  Healthcare reform is not an emergency issue that must be addressed today.  Yet, it has people of all stripes giving up time and treasure to make the point that they do or don’t want “xyz” as a feature of any healthcare reform.

Surely, the nation’s economy has to be a much more critical issue.  If it fails to regain its balance, where will the money come from to pay for any healthcare programs?

I would argue that National Security is a far more important issue.  If we are no longer free and secure, how do we control the ability to determine how we will, as a nation, handle the health of our people?  Should our Defense Budget be higher or lower?  Should we be involved in wars in the Middle East?  Should we have mandatory service in the military like many countries or continue to have an “all volunteer” force?  Most of these questions are both more pressing and more important than whether and how we tweak our medical care delivery in our country.

I am quite sure that Energy is more pressing.  Prices are rising.  Sources are not stable.  There is an energy component to almost every product and service that touches your life.

I personally think Education Reform is a more important issue.  A Democracy depends on an educated populous.  If we want to remain an democratic nation, we need to have a better educated populous than we have today.  If we want to compete in the world economy, we need a better educated populous than we have today.  If we want to continue to enjoy the freedoms and wealth we have today, we need a better educated populous than we have today.

The Environment, Immigration, Foreign Affairs, the War on Drugs, and the size and scope of government are all contenders for the fifth spot on this list in my opinion.  That doesn’t even touch things like Family Values, the coming retirement of the Baby Boomers and the pressures that will put on our economy and government.  Abortion, Big Business Ethics, Prison Reform, Unemployment, and Civil Rights are thought by many to be far more important than Healthcare reform.

My answer to the question, “Why Healthcare?” is that it is a first rate political tool. If you want power, what better issue to promote?  Everyone is concerned about their health.  The issue is unbelievably complex so that a majority of people want a simple explanation that they can understand.  That makes it ripe for highly distorted but easily understood, politically motivated, misinformation aimed at creating a political result.  Understanding how medicine will be rationed under a new, government controlled system is very difficult.  It is very easy to understand the image created by the words, “death panel.”  Understanding all the things that contribute to rising costs of healthcare is a monumental task.  It is pretty easy to understand the image of “fat cat insurance executives” and of seeing only those nasty “rich” people have to pay additional taxes to pay for “healthcare reform.”

As I said in my previous post, about half the politicians want more control over your life and they propose to have it by controlling your health care.  The other half want to see the first half fail in order to regain power they have lost.  I fear that those who want the political power (and seek it through the tool of healthcare reform) have already won half the battle.  They have the entire nation agreeing with the assumption that this is our most pressing national issue. It is not even close.

Maybe this issue is one of the top five if you believe that healthcare reform similar to the House Bill will take many of your freedoms.  Many of us think that our freedom of choice and our freedom of action (or inaction) will be greatly reduced by what we see in the Bill.  For that reason, the Politics of Healthcare Reform may be one of the most important issues of the day.  But, healthcare itself is not that important.