That’s not a typo you read. I want to talk about the problem with how we talk about the problems with Obamacare. I know this is a topic not directly tied to diabetes, but health insurance, and our rather precarious health-care system, certainly has a LARGE impact on all of us living with this preexisting condition. And so the debate on Obamacare, or the Affordable Care Act as it’s actually called, is something I’ve tried my best to follow.
Here’s the issue: It seems like we are almost incapable of addressing the problems in any way that can lead to anything constructive. It seems to me that what we have is two bitterly entrenched “sides,” full of people who have minds ALREADY MADE UP long before encountering any of the facts. And so each side finds the facts, the statistics, the stories, that back up THEIR view of the situation, and they go to war against each other. And the biggest casualties of this war? US!
You see, when ideology trumps reason, trumps evidence, and prevents either side from taking an honest, unbiased look at the situation on the ground, there can be no real progress toward a solution. What we have is two sides more intent on WINNING AN ARGUMENT than on finding a reasonable solution to what nearly everyone agreed was a broken system. Remember the 2008 elections? There was broad consensus that our health-care system as it stood didn’t work for the people. We were tired of health insurance companies denying care to deathly ill patients. We were tired of people being turned away because they have preexisting conditions. We were tired of the whole mess.
And so we asked that our government DO SOMETHING about the problem. And it did. But not everyone agreed on how to do it. That’s to be expected. But instead of remaining rationale, calm, and objective, we ratcheted up the hysteria on both sides and went to war with each other. Hyperbole ensued — remember the roving “death panels” we heard so much about? Now, to be fair, I do have a dog in this fight, and I tend to lean towards the side of supporting the ACA, but I know it’s far from perfect. I think most of the politicians who support it know it’s not perfect. They know it has problems that need to be corrected. But those problems can’t be honestly addressed.
For those who support the law, problems have to be swept under the carpet, mitigated, and made to appear unimportant — because they know acknowledging ANY problem fuels the fires of the opposition intent on completely dismantling the ACA. For those who oppose the law, those problems have to be magnified, made catastrophic, and held up as evidence that the ENTIRE LAW has to be thrown away.
You know the old saying, “the first step is admitting there’s a problem”? Well, we’ve backed ourselves into a corner where we can’t admit to the problems! If the supporters admit the problems, the opponents will simply increase the intensity of their attack. And the detractors aren’t “admitting there’s a problem,” either. They’re so bent on winning that ANY issue is turned into a calamity — they bypass the real problem and dive into a world of fantasy. You can’t ADDRESS an issue unless you take an honest, unbiased look at it! That means we have to stop sweeping the problems under the carpet, AND we have to stop blowing them out of proportion and turning them into fuel for hysteria.
Like most issues in today’s political arena, emotional ideology seems to run the show. Ideology leads, and reason, fact, and objective analysis trail behind. It’s maddening to watch, particularly as someone who is so directly impacted by the outcome. If we could only drop the denial, hysteria, and vitriol and come together for a reasoned, focused, and outcome-oriented approach to health care, I KNOW we could solve our problems. We are more than capable of solving the problems that prompted the passage of the ACA in a manner that really works. But we’re too stubborn, too entrenched, and too angry to do it.
We don’t need to all agree on everything. We don’t need to all join one political party or another. We don’t need to sing “Kumbaya” around a giant campfire. We need to let clear, objective facts, data, and reason dictate our actions rather than dogged, unflinching ideology. The problems we face in the world today are complex, systemic problems that require a more evolved manner of thinking. I am reminded of Einstein’s brilliant quote: “We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if mankind is to survive.” Yes we shall, Albert, yes we shall.