Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Senator Reid has proposed a new iteration of what is fast becoming an old and divisive issue. Like most divisive issues, the need for action is pressing, but concensus on the path forward is lost in the morass of conflicting interests and agendas. Healthcare Reform that effectively drives down the cost of health care is everybody's goal, but the major stumbling block on any agreement as to the path is, of course, the idea of the public option.

I think Republicans are right in saying that "public option" is in the final analysis a euphemism for government-run health insurance. The fact that a euphemism is felt necessary stems, of course, from the opportunity of Republicans, for whom a party platform board has always been "less government," the opportunity to accuse the other side of the aisle of increasing the size, and therefore, cost, of government. Democrats, on the other hand, are rightly questioning what other entity can adequately call the health insurance industry to accountability but the government, and that perhaps this is, indeed, the government's job.

I guess I'm a pessimist when it comes to this. I don't think the health insurance industry has the capacity to police itself any better than any other successful industry without some sort of external pressure, but neither do I think that the government has ever been very good at running anything. It's job is to make laws, enforce them and enact them, which lacks the intrinsic economic reasons to be efficient that the private sector has.

So what is the solution? I don't know, but it reminds me of a story I heard in a sermon today. A student asked a rabbi why the words of Torah are to be put on the heart rather than in the heart. The wise rabbi responded that we place the words of Torah on top of the heart so that when the heart breaks they fall in. Perhaps we will not find a solution until something breaks. Tragic, I know, and many of us (including me) believe the system is already broken, but apparently it has not yet broken badly enough. I would like to hope that our lawmakers could come up with a workable solution, but my wiser side thinks it will take pressure from some other source to balance out our health-care system. I hope I'm wrong....

The reason I think I'm not wrong is that none of us really "get" redemption until we are broken by forces undeniably bigger than ourselves. God's grace is made perfect in weakness. I still like Leonard Cohen's quatrain, "Ring the bells that still can ring, forget your perfect offering, there's a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in."

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