I was wrong.
I think Senator Cruz is wrong.
I feel ashamed that it took me so long to figure it out. And I hope for all of our sakes, Cruz and co. figure it out before he embarrasses himself and his country any more. Reading green eggs and ham to no one over a microphone just shows me that he's so blind, that he'll never see the solution when it does present itself. He might as well have plugged his ears, covered his eyes and sung at the top of his lungs. I was ashamed of him.
I don't claim to have any real answers, but I used to. I used to look at universal healthcare as the ultimate terrible idea. In fact, mk and I raised voices over thai food about the subject. I was yelling about things like smokers elevating the cost of healthcare. I was yelling about obese people and dumb people and every other group I could think of to blame. I was yelling. I was frustrated.
And I was wrong.
That discussion happened about 4 years ago. A lot has changed for me. I now regularly deal with a lot of poor people. I watch them make tragically poor choices again and again that end up costing the taxpayers a lot of money. I watch food stamp abuse. I see housing subsidies abused. I see emergency room visits for addicts who need a fix of something to keep the withdrawals at bay.
Meanwhile, I work a 9-5 job and make a good living - not enough to have new cars and the latest iPad, but it's enough to live in relative safety and security. Knowing that I work so hard and pay for others' poor choices is a really hard pill to swallow. The old me used to think "I work hard and they don't, so I deserve something for all of my work". The new me realizes there's a lot more nuance to the story. There's a lot more to people's stories. There's a lot more room for compassion and understanding.
This morning on NPR I listened to sound bytes of Presidents Obama and Clinton discussing the healthcare exchanges and how little they will cost for many Americans. I heard things like "less than your cell phone bill" for a woman in her late 20's. I heard about families in Texas earning less than 50k would be eligible for decent coverage (silver level) for about $100.
I've thought of my conversation with mk a lot over the last several years and regretted it. I've known I was wrong at some level, but hearing the new this morning cemented in my mind that I was really, really, wrong.
Together, my employer and I pay $1478 per month for my healthcare coverage. Yah. That's group medical. That's $17,736 per year. And I still get to pay for copays and deductibles, etc. And here's the sad part: I have it good. So many people have no coverage or far worse coverage. Some of you reading this might want to punch me in the throat for complaining.
Our healthcare system is so far broken - who was I to claim this kind of universal healthcare wouldn't work? The time for using political tricks, time wasters, and cheap shots is over. The current system is so far past rescue - it's time for a fresh start. It's time to build a sensible system from the ground up. It's time for a reboot.
I don't understand all of the details of it, but let's give the Affordable Care Act a chance. I doubt anyone knows exactly how the law will play out, but at this point it's worth a shot. All of this partisan nonsense makes me wish the the law went further. It makes me wish we all had the same opportunity. Let's learn some lessons from some of our neighbors (Canada, UK, Norway, etc.) and make an even better system.
I was wrong. Let's start making it right.