Sunday, August 16, 2009

Health Reform Needs Villains: Here Are Three

Egads, promoting health reform is really hard work, especially for a U.S. President. Not only do you have to become expert in health economics, contend with others’ imperfect decision-making and settle for less than what you'd prefer, your family vacations have to be cut short. Since letting others do the heavy lifting isn't working out so well, Mr. Obama has turned to old-fashioned political rhetoric and generalities to garner support. Unfortunately, even that tried and true method is wearing thin.

But there is another approach that oten works: pin the blame on a villain. Yet, unbelievably, Mr. Obama gave up using that approach when, reproached by an insurance broker at a Town Hall, he answered:

'First of all, you are absolutely right that the insurance companies, in some cases, have been constructive. So I'll give you a particular example. Aetna has been trying to work with us in dealing with some of this preexisting conditions stuff. And that's absolutely true. And there are other companies who have done the same. Now... in some cases what we've seen is also funding in opposition by some other insurance companies to any kind of reform proposals. So my intent is not to vilify insurance companies. If I was vilifying them, what we would be doing would be to say that private insurance has no place in the health care market, and some people believe that.' (bolding from the DMCB).

Talk about a political blunder. Thanks to a deal with big pharma, a separate deal with the hospitals and breaking bread with the AMA, the only villain left standing was the health insurance industry. Now that’s gone.

The Disease Management Care Blog understands that finding someone to blame is a long-standing tradition in today’s ends-justify-the-means politics of partisan elbow throwing. What's more, half of the August recess is gone and big-bang health reform is in trouble. Knowing that it’s do or die time for the Administration, the DMCB is pleased to come to its rescue with three ready-made villains that are available to kick-start the health reform debate on the President's terms:

Global Warming: Can anyone doubt that the simultaneous warming of the planet and skyrocketing health care costs are more than just a coincidence? Their co-occurrence is not only clear proof than one is causing the other but fixing one will fix the other. The DMCB is thinking both ways: not only will cooling the planet preserve precious farmland (nutritious veggies) and halt the spread of bugs (like malaria and spiders), but vice versa: controlling health care costs will reduce our carbon footprint. Think smaller hospitals using less power, less use of internal combustion engines to access physicians thanks to the greater use of blue pills in lieu of red pills, fewer pacemakers and better preservation of both legs so that folks can bicycle to the organic Farmers' Market and the next Town Hall.

The Taliban: These enigmatic bad boys are behind a host of things that are wrong with our world, so why not toss in health care. Sure, they’re half a world away and their threat to the homeland is questionable, but that hasn’t stopped a prior President from successfully rallying the country to defeat these evil-doers. Time to dust off this template and say it out loud: unless health care reform passes, the terrorists will win.

Aliens: Why not leverage our country’s fascination with nefarious space beings. Case in point? How about the eerie resemblance between the wacky Sarah Palin and the space beings of Area 51? Is her bouffant hiding an unacceptably large head cavity? Are her spectacles making her eye sockets appear smaller than they really are? Can her behavior only be explained by orders beamed by some orbiting craft? While the DMCB wonders about this, it also thinks that implying that only a not-of-this-world entity could equate death panels with advance directives will resonate with a huge swath of gullible Democrats and Republicans. This will rally naysayers faster than managed care CEOs to an insurance mandate.

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