Tuesday, February 6, 2007
Healthcare In Broad Strokes
John Edward's just announced a thumbnail sketch of his health coverage plan. In the coming days, the rest of the candidates will offer their own variations, and eventually a consensus will form about what's electable and what isn't. And if it sounds like I have a hard time getting excited about it all, it's because I do.
Both by temperament and deep-seated skepticism about government's ability to do anything more than establish broad national priorities, I tend to have little interest in policy in the narrow, wonk-ish sense of the term. Luckily, there are folks like Ezra Klein for informative discussions of the nuts and bolts of Edwards' plan.
My own thoughts tend to turn to the context that frames the debate but is rarely mentioned. How, for instance, as a society we've medicalized what are in reality the consequences of poverty, especially in the mental health field. How Western medicine is organized around a model of costly technological and/or pharmaceutical responses instead of less expensive and less invasive preventive measures.
How both of these trends reinforce a power dynamic that leaves ordinary people seeking healthcare increasingly at the mercy of either private insurers or the government's attempts to intercede on their behalf.
Hard to put into quantifiable numbers, I admit. But there are policy wonks for that part, right?
Update: Kevin Drum just posted a nice overview of the plan, including policy and political up- and downsides.