Depending on who you speak to in the United States about the topic of healthcare, you’re either going to hear that it’s the government’s job, or that it’s not the government’s job, to provide health insurance for every citizen. As the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) nears its start date, we still know very little of what to expect, good or bad. Against this backdrop, the quotes from these Americans serve as a good cross-section of the varying views. With whom do you agree?
1. Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Agriculture
“If we can get people to focus on fruits and vegetables and more healthy foods, we’ll be better in terms of our healthcare situation.”
Politicians on both sides of the aisle have been preaching this for years. Michelle Obama (on the Democrat side) has done much to encourage fitness and fight obesity during her tenure as First Lady. For the Republicans, Mike Huckabee, a former governor of Arkansas who has battled with his own weight problems in the past, has used his influence to do the same. And Chris Christie of … oh, never mind. This quote from Vilsack sums it up. Want to keep your healthcare costs low? Eat right.
2. Camille Paglia, American teacher and social critic
“The airheads of Congress will keep their own plush healthcare plan — it’s the rest of us guinea pigs who will be thrown to the wolves.”
Paglia, who describes herself as a Clinton Democrat an a Libertarian, sums up what many of us are feeling. If the changes in healthcare are such a great thing, why aren’t the politicians, who passed it, the first to sign up and drop their existing plans?
3. Donald Berwick, former administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
“Any healthcare funding plan that is just, equitable, civilized, and humane must — must — redistribute wealth from the richer among us to the poorer and the less fortunate. Excellent healthcare is by definition re-distributional.”
Berwick has a point. How can you expect someone with health problems, who is making just $30,000 per year to afford the $2,000 per month premium that might come second nature to a multi-millionaire? You can’t. But even so, there’s this:
4. Adam Carolla, comedian, author, and Internet personality
“I don’t think healthcare’s a right. The only right you have is the ability to go out on an even playing field and work, and then purchase health insurance, or whatever it is.”
Funny-man Carolla came from abject poverty to become wealthy and famous. As such, it’s hard to preach the doctrine of “it’s not my fault” to this guy. And in a supposed “land of the free,” it’s difficult to tell an individual, who never had anything until he earned it, that he’s then got to pay for people, who may or may not be gaming the system … perhaps the biggest fear of a state-run healthcare system.
5. John Kerry, Secretary of State/former Democratic presidential candidate
“Great physicians and nurses, skilled, caring, and unparalleled in their training, intervened in my life and probably saved it. I was lucky but other Americans are not. It is time to speak again and stand again for the ideal that in the richest nation ever on this planet, it is wrong for 41 million Americans, most of them in working families, to worry at night and wake up in the morning without the basic protection of health insurance.”
Nice point, Mr. Kerry. Of course, questions remain: in a world where doctors and nurses are already in short supply, who’s going to take care of the extra 41 million? What will that do to the quality of healthcare?
Which side in the American healthcare debate do you take?