I know the title makes no sense, but I figured it might at least make the event seem more interesting than it actually was. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but certainly not what I received; the event was not open to the public, the crowd was completely subdued, and the floor was not open to questions. I'd complain, but they took pre-written questions before the event, and one of the organizers asked congressman Sarbanes the questions during a brief Q&A period. I'd speculate on the person asking only "friendly" questions, but mine was one chosen, so I can't imagine that to be the case.
The set-up for the event was such: John Sarbanes gave a 30 min. introductory talk, going over what they wanted to accomplish with health care reform, what they needed to do yet, and a bit of why it needed to be done. This was followed by representatives from each of the schools here (Pharmacy, Nursing, Law, Social Work, Dentistry, and Medicine) talking about what health care reform means to them, what challenges they see for their profession in the coming years, etc.
All in all, it was non-controversial. Sarbanes stuck to the party line talking points when discussing reform. I was hoping for something YouTube worthy. At least something like, "All those people who oppose this are morons!" Nothing. The only real moments of conflict were drawn from my question and inspired by the dean of the law school, of all people. I asked Sarbanes why litigation reform wasn't on the table (his answer being that studies show that it won't save any costs, though I'm not inclined to believe such and don't think that's sufficient anyhow). When the law school dean was up to speak, he mentioned it again in a, "Yeah, that's not gonna happen," kind of way. However, later when the med school representative spoke, he looked at the rest of the panel and countered with, "Nuts to you guys, we need tort reform." The law school guy spent the rest of the evening shooting daggers with his eyes at the med school speaker. Very exciting, yes?
A couple of things I do want to grab onto, though. First, Sarbanes spoke continually about moving to preventative care as a means of saving money. I have yet to see anybody show this to be the case. In fact, it's part of the "defensive medicine" that doctors complain about practicing now; running extraneous tests to catch something "just in case" is not a money saving procedure.
Second, Sarbanes got an answer about increasing access to health care for the millions of new people who will end up on the public dole because of this, and his answer was incredibly evasive. The fact of the matter is, if you suddenly have 50 million new people with insurance, they're going to start seeing doctors. That means we need a lot more health care workers at all levels, or we're going to have the same, awful staff shortages that Britain's NHS suffers. Exactly how does Congress propose to get these people without the quality of the care suffering?
Third, Sarbanes made a point of saying that the public plan will remain competitive with private insurance because it isn't for-profit, but that it must also stand on its own feet (by law). That is, it can't be taxpayer subsidized by pay for itself. He said with a smirk afterwards that those darn insurance companies are just gonna have to cut executive pay to stay competitive. I could dedicate an entire post to what was wrong with that sentiment, but suffice it to say that nobody in their right mind believes a politician when they say that a program will pay for itself. When has a government program like this ever been within budget? And why on Earth would a politician not opt to "temporarily" infuse tax dollars into the program to keep it afloat once it's running?
He also mentioned that the CBO estimated only 12 million people would be on the public plan after however many years, and I don't recall ever hearing that. You know, because the government has never underestimated the popularity of one of its programs.
Finally, just a bit of rhetoric. In talking about the emphasis in moving to preventative care, Sarbanes stated that it was society's duty to keep people healthy, not just treat them once they're sick. That, as Jonah Goldberg might say, is liberal fascism talking. It is a personal responsibility to take care of oneself. Society has no place there.
(And when Obama appeals to Christians that the Bible says that, "I am my brother's keeper," he's talking out the wrong end of his digestive tract. That never appears in the Bible.)
So, the event wasn't terribly exciting, but it did give me something to blog about. Finally.