Health Care Reform – Fervor of Federal Election – Great Disparity in Advertising Dollars

We sometimes hear rising clamor for election campaign reform. We hear “the only people who can really enter the competition are those with the most dollars.” (And we witness thoughtful, analytical, voices set aside so few hear – lack of funding, we explain.)

I suppose many of us silently agree. But we don’t leap up and add to any rising clamor. Eventually it subsides. Status quo resumes.

I’m involved in promoting Health Care Reform (see any of my posts with ‘Health Care’ in the title.)

I function at the level that works best for me: write letters to elected federal policy makers of my state and congressional district, bring up the topic in local conversation when I can possibly make it fit. And of course, I post here. My energy levels for doing this rise and fall. Overall – I keep it up.

I’ve read and heard we folk in favor of deep, significant, reform, make the mistake of trying to explain, in logical economic/compassionate argument, why reform is needed, why what is going on now is lousy economics for everyone but large corporate for-profit players (both Insurance and Pharma).

It’s said a mistake to appeal to “reason”, when the effective way to “win” is to play on fear. Economic arguments describing what can be accomplished for everyone, if we get Big Profit out of the way, might be said to include a ‘fear’ angle. Economic advantages to ordinary citizens, to whole country ‘bottom line’; potential to reduce ‘per capita’ cost by 50% and get everyone insured at the same time. These points ‘sort of’ touch on fear.  A“positive” statement against assumed “fear” of loss of insurance and/or rising per capita insurance costs.

If those in favor of deep, significant, reform are using ‘fear’ at all, it seems not as effective as Great Big Fear as used by those who want a “wimpy” outcome, or who hope the whole reform push will eventually “go away.”

Perhaps Significant Reformers need more visuals of damaged, and/or ill, and or dead bodies to accompany arguments in favor – graphic sharing of being without coverage, or underinsured, or bankrupt.

I have two problems with the Deep Reform group opting to pump “Fear” as a tactic:

First, advertising is extremely expensive!! We’re talking “citizen group pockets” vs Big HC Industry Pockets. We’re talking over $1,400,000 spent daily in Washington alone by HC Industry (at last report, and reported for many weeks)! Plus costly paid media advertising, banners, plus ‘free’ advertising against deep and significant HC reform as found in ultra-conservative talk media, … plus whatever I’ve not listed.) Lots and lots of dollars from very deep pockets.

Ultra-conservative, conservative, modest conservative, modest reform, reform, and Major reform can all use ‘free’ media opportunities. If numbers of listener/viewers soaking up any of these varies a lot, it’s probably not an ‘imbalance’ we Reformers can take on. Let that one go. Let go concern of imbalance in ‘free’ media contributions.

As to over $1,400,000.00 spent daily, for weeks on end, schmoozing Washington policy makers – it’s not that Reformers are letting that one go – it’s just that they have no where near matching resources. A lot of deep Reform work is being done by volunteers, unpaid, who do not especially want pay for time and talent they bring to the table – you could consider it citizen democratic action at work.

One ‘assumes’ an announcement of Washington lobby expenditures would raise citizen eyebrows. One assumes ordinary citizens presently paying for premiums, or aware employers are paying premiums, would ask: “Where does the HC Industry get the dollars to run their lobby effort?” One assumes this a reasonable question, based in sound economic thinking. (To be fair, some is being spent by ‘pro-reform’ groups, but some of these groups themselves have connections to HC Industry funds – AARP for instance).

It’s very odd – I don’t hear the question! Well – I have heard it from Libertarian points of view; which I do not assume are interested in universal HC coverage as an outcome. (Could be wrong on that – and am glad for their question raising.)

I support universal coverage. I presently support an American Public Plan as ‘concession’ to a society not ready to understand and support economic advantages of universal coverage.

I wish there were more presence of a compassionate ‘driver’ in the HC debate, but even that seems ‘not essential’ in Reform argument, (sad that it seems of so little relevance). It seems to me the entire argument in favor of universal coverage can be argued on purely economic grounds. Citizen health advantages in universal coverage feeds back into national health, therefore national productivity, and gets employers off the hook, increasing their global competitive position – pure economic argument. “Everybody wins!”

I even include living, breathing, HC Industry individuals in my ‘everybody wins with universal coverage’ point of view. (I do not include “sustained life” of Large Corporations at the level they presently enjoy – and you can bet, they do “enjoy” – look at all those smiling faces on their ‘buy from us and your health care is assured’ brochures!)

I come from family farm experience – child and adult. Always, dollar management is critical in such a “business” (quotes indicate tentative nature of ‘profit’ many years.) In resource management, including dollar management, I am pretty “conservative”.  None of this “modern conservative politics” clamor in favor of corporate high profit continuation quite makes sense to me. Seems fundamentally irrational.

In my title I equate the HC Reform Debate to a federal election. I say ‘fervor’. “Energy,” dumped into “persuasive advertising” seems similar.

It appears to me the existing HC Industry is pouring whatever it takes into persuasion, manipulation of fear, for the sake of coming out “on top” no matter what.  It appears they’ll happily accept no reform, or “wimpy” reform (possibly even increasing tax dollars shunted their way by government insistence that we all buy from the companies, rather than providing an American Public Plan.)

It somewhat appears a significant portion of the general citizenry perfers to carry on without participation – not interested by projections of what future HC will look like and cost if there is no reform, and not touched by a grossly inequitable “playing field” among those providing information. (I use the word “information” without conviction of truth in the case of HC Corporate players : ploy, manipulation, smoke screens and red herrings seem shamelessly tossed to the citizenry – wonder why they’re not offering dollar/cents pie charts of their corporate finances?)

And the citizenry’s response? As said above – minimal participation. Few hard questions generally, “polite discussion” on NPR – “impersonal, intellectual, professional curiosity”.  (Bless the hearts of those who make a point to ask hard questions – a few do.)

I am so sorry citizen un-involvement may be the case! It doesn’t have to be this way. We do not have to give over our voices to “those players” when, based on constitutional intentions of this country, we are the ‘players’ – supposed to be at any rate.

Following Columbia Journalism Review article by Trudy Lieberman reports an amazing lack of information at a Starbucks one research morning:

http://www.cjr.org/campaign_desk/cjrs_town_hall_meetings_part_i.php?page=all

On the one hand we have swirling and high energy involvement by some; and on the other ???

(Who, … are we? … ) (Paraphrase of a Thomas Merton poem line.)

Oh, yes, my second reason for not wanting to use Great Big Fear in favor of significant and deep HC reform: A major premise of our founding, we say we believe, is that citizens choose to be rational, comprehensive, thinkers when it comes to Big Decisions on Civil Affairs. It’s bad enough the HC Industry tosses this premise aside – goes for the ‘gut’, hopes ‘fear’ will drive the outcome. (HC Industry strategies predicted in detail by Wendell Potter, whistle-blower, long-time Cigna PR VP, see: http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/07102009/watch2.html )

Even if the whole country goes down the tube, following empires gone before, I can’t – in Principle – help hasten our demise by fostering lack of critical thought.

Great goal for the rest of the week: Ask a question about HC at least once a day in some ‘ordinary citizen’ environment. Ask anybody, ask any question – just ask a question!

My Very Best to All! -MaggieAnn

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About maggieannthoeni

A description once given of me was "rooted in the earth while roaming the stars" - and this has felt 'right'. I believe in something akin to this for each of us. I am a passionate supporter of discovering the autonomous self while serving the whole as primary intent. I believe in discovery of innate principles, clearing the overlay of socialization that obscures this from us. I believe it is our responsibility to leave no one behind - most particularly to respond to suffering as best we can whereever we find it, whenever we are made aware. I believe in this for the insect as well as the most magnificent form of humanity. I believe in brother/sisterhood without boundary. I believe in righteous indignation when it is appropriate, but do not believe in an enemy. I believe in consciousness, in intelligence, in logic, in rationality, in emotion, in transcendence - and am convinced until we generally practice explore and honor all this in ourselves, we remain profoundly immature. (I believe real maturity is known and practiced by many young children, and not enough adults!)
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