Health care reform: Lift people to our ideals

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by Helen Schnoes | July 10, 2009 • Last night, I attended Kerri Miller’s forum on health care reform at the MPR studios. The focus of the event was to hear from the people who “deliver” health care – physicians, specialists, nurses, etc., as well as patients, while excluding the politicians to have a discussion about what health care reform means.

Hindsight is the official blog of Minnesota 2020. Hindsight gives the run down on the news that jumps out at us on the issues that matter. Often times these stories show us how much further we need to go to have the progressive policy realized in Minnesota.

Many of the ideas that circulated under Miller’s loose control as moderator mirrored ones I’d heard elsewhere. Listen to almost any debate on this major issue, and I’m sure you’ll have a sense of the dialogue.

Of course this is a monumental issue. Yet, it seems that every time a conversation starts it becomes bogged down in the mire of financial feasibility. Certainly the financing of a possible public health care plan is integral, but at which stage?

One specialist at the forum referred to family physicians as idealistic. Though the characterization is possibly apt, its underlying negativity and condescension struck me as unnecessary and even limiting.

Our nation’s potential for progress with health care reform is truly grand. Though compromise and economic impediments must be accounted for, can we not first have a national dialogue not about the cost of this or the over-use of that, but one in which we are guided by our potential, not our constraints? Let us question our very cultural norms.

Before Lincoln gave his House Divided speech denouncing the divisiveness of slavery, all but one of his closest aids pushed for him to temper his argument, claiming that what he called for was too advanced and radical for the times. Only his old law partner stood by his side, saying, “If it is in advance of the times, let us – you & I if no one Else – lift the people to the level of this Speech now & higher hereafter. The Speech is true – wise … and it will succeed…”

We should hope to hear a similar voice of idealistic resolve today.

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