There appears to be a great deal of consternation these days over town hall meetings and the fervor of some people opposed to health care reform or what they perceive it to be. I have no idea how much if any of this was staged, but I am certain that much of what is being said on both sides is based on misinformation or simply ignorance. I was at a family gathering yesterday, there were about 40 people and believe it or not the subject of health care was on their minds. I did not stimulate the conversation or do more than listen ( a major accomplishment for me). It was quite amazing. The general feeling was opposition and misinformation was rampant, like they are taking away benefits from Medicare and some of the figures people thought they would have to pay were incredible. The point is that all this talk of changing the health care system and of public options makes people nervous and this country is not yet at the point where Americans accept a “trust us we know best” approach to governing (even though they voted for “change.”)
As anyone who has dealt with this topic knows, health care is different and anyone who forgets that is headed for trouble whether it be an employer or a government. People are irrational when it come to health care and their coverage. How else would you explain that an increase in car insurance deductible is perceived as saving money while an increase of the same amount in a health insurance deductible is perceived as a catastrophic event.
I suppose there is a lesson in all this, but I suspect politicians are too busy defending the party line to listen. The lesson should be go slow, fix the real fundamental problems in the delivery system and the financial structure that drive costs, educate people, fix things like malpractice and then start the expansion of coverage. But even after saying that, there is much that can be done immediately to expand coverage before any changes in the system because many of the people without coverage are eligible for some existing benefits and others simply choose not be insured.
I doubt that anyone wants a big win that gets it wrong.