The Media and HealthCare

January 7th, 2011

Several articles stood out in recent weeks as typical of the manner in which public opinion can be swayed by a press corp which is overly impressed with the dramatic license taken by news figures. In an astonishing lack of respect for the intelligence of its audience, journalists today feel compelled to allow ‘news-worthy’ individuals to guild the lily and distract us from the full impact of the actions being taken. For instance, many congressional members have decided that Americans don’t deserve health care unless unnamed employers for the fortunate few who are endowed by generous employers with adequate coverage. This view of health care as something which must be earned despite the impossibility of the typical, middle class worker being able to afford comprehensive coverage for him/herself and children. The insistence that access to affordable care by the masses is disguised as precious ideology (capitalism versus socialism) and implies that only Republicans stand between the American people and a state in which we will all refer to one another as ‘comrade’.

My personal favorite is that ever-popular show of gladiatorial heroics in which grandstanding politicians state their intention of taking health care away from Obama!

Obama and his family have guaranteed health care coverage. I checked.

It isn’t really news reporting if it strictly adheres to the scripts of the actors and actresses over-playing their parts as elected or appointed government officials. If it were actual news, the effects of each statement and action would be described in real terms. Isn’t it already ‘sensational’ that we live in a country having huge numbers of uninsured and under-insured Americans suffer severe medical problems for lack of physician services?

What are the actual implications of the rash statements in our headlines today?

-Health care is a commodity to be bought and sold rather than a practice steeped in tradition. The obligation to heal the sick, as per the Hippocratic Oath, must be restricted to insured individuals, wealthy patients or recipients of charity in free clinics.

-Health care is a rationed service for employed Americans with employers willing to reduce their own profits by varying amounts to supply such insurance. In return for these health benefits, employees are basically tied to their jobs in a feudal manner because health care insurance isn’t particularly portable.

-In reserving health care to the tender mercies of the private sector, an unofficial governing body in the form of provider associations, determines what will be offered to consumers along varying tiers of coverage. The public has a choice of that privatized ‘government’ making such choices without their input or of our elected, public government making such choices with their input. There will always be a government of some type to ‘ration’ care based upon costs.

-In reporting claims of impassioned actors that over-usage of services is to blame for high health care cots, where are the statistics defining this position? Are healthy individuals making physician visits part of their recreational agenda? Monday – Grand Canyon. Thursday – Mayo Clinic. Why not report over-usage as a situation in which the actual number of services necessary for control of a particular conditions like diabetes or cancer are actually exceeded? Overuse is a term requiring a context.

Of course, that would require reporters to ask public figures to define terms like ‘socialism’ and ‘capitalism’. Our representatives in Congress would have to explain the meanings behind their simple slogans. It would also require journalists to comprehend the adequacy of the responses their questions received. Attendance in school is compulsory in America. Unfortunately, acquiring an education is another matter entirely.

The New York Times and the Associated Press (as published on NPR) both discussed the effort by the Republicans to repeal ‘Obamacare’ as part of their war on the President. Any and all legislation which might seem positive in the eyes of the voting public must be rendered as distasteful as possible prior to enacting it. Then repeal is indicated, lest his reign be favorably remembered some day whether or not this presidency is restricted to a single term.

In the real world, all actions lead to other actions or reactions. Journalists need to inquire into the intentions of ‘actors’ who compartmentalize positions with such broad strokes. If they feel health care is a form of socialism, they should be asked if dropping health care is a prelude to repealing social security in their vision for the country. The public needs to know the path their current legislators are mapping for them unless assured this is an issue independent of all others. Again, it requires some degree of preparation on the part of the interviewer. All insurance is a form of socialism.

Combined premiums cover some of the insured subscribers who suddenly need help (car repair from a fender bender; cost of having your gall bladder removed, fixing up the house after a broken water pipe floods the basement etc.). Who’s paying for it? All the subscribers who don’t need help. Insurers are gambling that fewer people will need help than not while unused funds become profits in a stunning screenplay we might title, “Karl Marx runs off to Las Vegas to Marry Dr. Welby.”

So, when you read the typical news stories covering these subjects, ask yourselves what the reporters are actually telling you. We are seeing stories being played out before our eyes but it isn’t news.

Commentary left on these news stories:

GOP Sending Obama A Message On Health Repeal
by The Associated Press

Barbara Rubin (agasaya) wrote:

You are doing the American public a great disservice by writing/publishing articles which makes vital legislation even more removed from the voters. By labeling it a battle between Obama and legislators, it makes it seem as if health care was passed without a mandate from the voting public which overwhelmingly sent the President and many legislators to Washington for the purpose of passing it.

Please tell the news accurately and state that the Republicans intend to take universal health care away from Americans. Make it personal and help keep citizens interacting with their government. How else will change occur unless the public demands legislators actually govern, rather than commit sedition by halting these processes and keeping the same questions in play year after year.

Barbara Rubin
Monday, January 03, 2011 6:43:18 PM
Recommend (22)
GOP Faces Uphill Climb To Undo Health Law
by Julie Rovner

Barbara Rubin (agasaya) wrote:

Health care isn’t socialism if one defines it as a right and not as a commodity. No society operates in any pure system of politics or economics. We aren’t a democracy but a constitutional republic – does that frighten anyone? We don’t practice capitalism because that is a ‘trickle-up’ form of economics, not our ‘trickle-down’ mode in which corporations determine what we buy and how much we pay for it. We aren’t allowed to know what is in our products either. Funny, but consumers in Europe are offered full labeling. The continent which offers free health care practices a more honest form of capitalism, without having children dying of brain infections because they can’t afford to get abscessed teeth extracted.

Don’t worry,there will always be a ‘tier’ for a premium level of health care with no waiting -just as there is today. But 43,000 people won’t die for lack of it in 2014 as they do presently. I refer you to the statistics of what this nation has to pay out in lost productivity and disability benefits for those who become too sick to work. Health care will pay for itself in such savings.

It isn’t Obama that congress is depriving of health care. It is US.

Barbara Rubin
Tuesday, January 04
Recommend (60)

Categories: Newspaper Commentary, NPR, Published

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