I picked up the New York Times this morning and saw the front page story entitled "Building Flawed American Dreams" and expected to find a story about American health care. Instead, I found it was really a front page story about Henry Cisneros and his involvement in the backroom-dealings of the housing industry - the subprime mortgage deals that led to our current economic crisis. The story chronicles the myriad of regulators, financial institutions, and cronyism that created this crisis, unfettered by transparency, free market competition or disinterested oversight. Somehow, I couldn't help but think that the story was about health care after all.
Because the parallels to our proposed health care system of the future are, I'm afraid to say, remarkably similar:
Homeownership has deep roots in the American soul. But until recently getting a mortgage was a challenge for low-income families.Homeownership's roots in our soul pales in comparison to our own health care needs. Additionally. many families can no longer afford health care, or even the insurance policies that are supposed to be our saviour. "What do you mean we can't have health care for all? Of course we must! It is our moral imperative!" This is emotional manipulation - appealing to our most primal fears -a roof over our heads is primal, mortality more so.
So we stand on this slippery slope.
Enter the money.
We've gotten to the point where even our own presidential candidates have espoused health care as a "right" for every American. As we consider this entitlement, we must now ask ourselves how, exactly, the government will implement this initiative to make healthcare a "right." Can the government really supply the facilities, the doctors, the finances to make this happen? Or will they, like the housing industry, turn to private corporations to lead the charge? Who will get the contracts? What special legislation will be enacted to make it happen? Importantly, what business deals will be struck? What back-room deals and shennanigans will be cooked to make this impossible-to-finance system continue? Or will the parallels be as Mr. Cisneros said:
"I'm not sure you can regulate when we're talking about an entire nation of 300 million people and this behavior becomes viral.""Health care for all" has already become "viral." The entitlement attitude for affordable health care has become the cornerstone of healthcare policy in America. So can we expect to regulate a bloated system of bureaucracy that, like the housing industry, has its own set of self-interested parties?
If the housing crisis is any indication, I doubt it. The HUD-insured subprime mortgage party lasted through both the Clinton and most of the Bush administration. The private and public organizations that fed at the government trough have taken their money elsewhere. Or perhaps they are waiting in the wings for nationalized health care - follow the money. When will we ever learn?
And when the propped up government funded health-care system fails, then what happens?