Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity

Time Heals All Wounds

A British reader writes in:

I am a UK citizen living in the UK and I guess my Conservative views would equate to that of a Republican. I am contacting you because I cannot sit by and watch some of your ill informed compatriots criticise the NHS in the way that they seem to be doing. Recently my Mother and Father in law had major strokes and died shortly afterwards. Neither could be described as affluent. The NHS took care of them, they did not have to worry about costs. Last summer I dislocated my shoulder and received NHS treatment. The treatment was superb.

I have never had to consider an employers health care plan, before considering a job or leaving one. I am a free agent. I have never worked for an employer that has had financial issues because of a health care plan. I have never worried or thought about healthcare costs.

For me the NHS is something that most British people love and cherish. We`re very fortunate.

The NHS isn't beloved in Britain because it's popular among liberals and Britain has a lot of liberals. It's beloved because it's popular with self-identified conservatives, too. Much as Medicare, and for that matter, Social Security, is in the United States. Medicare Part D is another example of an entitlement that wasn't popular with conservatives or liberals, but now has broad public support.

These programs are very partisan when they're introduced but end up with bipartisan appeal once they're in operation. Over in the LA Times today, Nancy Altman looks back at some of the rhetoric that greeted Social Security. "The lash of the dictator will be felt, and 25 million free American citizens will for the first time submit themselves to a fingerprint test," said one Republican congressman. The program would "end the progress of a great country and bring its people to the level of the average European," fulminated another.

Sound familiar?

By Ezra Klein  |  August 14, 2009; 1:09 PM ET
Categories:  Health Reform , Social Security  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: A More Painful, and a More Expensive, Death
Next: Lunch Break


This is a great point but you can take it step further. Right now, the people who are screaming the loudest are not upset about provisions in a bill Congress might pass; they are scarred that Congress will pass a bill with provisions Limbaugh, Palin and others falsely say are in the bill (what we might call the Bill of Lies). So long as the Dems don’t pass the Bill of Lies, the folks who have voted for Dems in the past but are scarred right now will, over the next year, realize that the new law is not the Bill of Lies. They will realize this because the media will do what it always does after the fact, it will get around to saying what was true and what was not. They will realize this because it is a lot harder for people to believe a lie about a law that it in place then it is to maintain a lie about a proposed law. Oh, and they will realize it because they will notice that nobody is rounding up grandparents to appear before death panels.

Posted by: mlvch | August 14, 2009 1:37 PM | Report abuse

David Cameron, the Tory leader who hopes to be PM soon, is tripping all over himself today to try to convince the public that the comments of the Conservative MEP who went on Fox to trash the NHS did not speak for the party.

He knows the biggest fear the public have about the Tories is the concern they may abandon NHS funding the way Thatcher did. (Labour has invested overseen an uptick in spending, and it shows in shorter waiting times.) He promises more spending for NHS and insists he stands four square behind the NHS, and even claimed the Conservatives were the "party of the NHS."

It's really mind boggling to me.

Posted by: KathyF | August 14, 2009 1:48 PM | Report abuse

"These programs are very partisan when they're introduced but end up with bipartisan appeal once they're in operation." And that's why the Republicans will do anything sort of using a nuclear weapon to kill health care. Wait till you hear about Obama's "forced genital mutilation" provisions in the next week or so from Palin and Grassley and Fox.

Posted by: glewiss | August 14, 2009 2:20 PM | Report abuse

And, of course, Ronald Reagan begging people to write their Congressmen to fight against the introduction of Medicare, saying that "if you don't do this and if I don't do it, one of these days you and I are going to spend our sunset years telling our children, and our children's children, what it once was like in America when men were free."

Same garbage. Same garbage haulers. All that's changed is the century.

Posted by: bcamarda2 | August 14, 2009 2:33 PM | Report abuse

This so-called journalist, Ezra Klein, misses the point.

A lot of Americans think the government spends beyond its means. The $70 trillion or so in unfunded obligations is evidence enough of the unsustainability of the country's welfare system.

Posted by: RandomWalk1 | August 14, 2009 3:30 PM | Report abuse

Not quite sure what the point of this post is other than as evidence that people, as a rule, prefer the status quo. But that's neither an argument for or against a given system. Ezra and other "reform" advocates certainly don't seem to think that the fact that 80% of the American public is happy with their health care a sufficient reason to abandon their advocacy for reforming the system. Why should opponents like myself, then, think it at all relevant that a majority might like, say, single-payer health coverage if it were ever implemented (though I doubt the numbers would ever reach the percentage that claims to be happy with their current coverage)? If anything, the suspicion that public popularity would make it impossible to roll back changes that I oppose on principle gives me even more reason to oppose something like the public option.

Posted by: richao | August 14, 2009 4:34 PM | Report abuse

The reality is that most people are healthy most of the time. If most of those people have health insurance and go in for a check-up once every year or two, or for x-rays, etc they may think they're insurance coverage is perfectly adequate. Until they get seriously sick. Or their mothers, fathers, wives, or children do. Then its non-stop back and forth calls with insurance companies. Is X covered? Is Y covered? How long can my father, who had a stroke a week ago stay in the hospital? How long can he stay in rehab facility. All of that is determined by insurance company bureaucrats. And it differs from case to case. In most cases, (as with my father's stroke) the hospital is aiming to hustle the patient out ASAP because the insurance companies do NOT want to pay for hospital care beyond 5-7 days, even if the person is still in serious condition. Off to the rehab hospital or nursing home for you. If you can find one. And its your responsibility to find one, check it out, see if they accept insurance, and so on. Its the same deal with Rehab hospitals. 7-10 days max stay for Blue Cross/Blue Shield patients, unless you run through hoops and beg for another week or two. Which probably won't be granted. Contrast this system with the British system which you cite here or the Canadian or French systems. No worries about cost or continuing care. There is a global budget which does have to be negotiated, every year, but individual patient care is left up to medical professionals.

Posted by: opal22 | August 14, 2009 5:29 PM | Report abuse

" If anything, the suspicion that public popularity would make it impossible to roll back changes that I oppose on principle gives me even more reason to oppose something like the public option."


That, in one sentence, summarizes the conservative argument against health care reform.

The principle is the key thing. The government must be made small enough to drown in a bathtub. Obama must be destroyed.

The facts that our health care is destroying our economy, that many people are now unable to get the health care they need, that in a decade or two MOST people will not get the health care they need all mean nothing. Trying to fix the system means nothing.

It is the principle that counts.

Posted by: PatS2 | August 14, 2009 5:51 PM | Report abuse

ah, thank you PatS2, a breath of clarity. The blurry logic of this opposition makes me lose sight of things that were once clear.

After the last administration ended I relaxed and lost sight of that stance of denying all evidence of the senses in favor of the pre-conceived doctrine.

Now the shape of all this "ruckus" comes back into focus for me.

Posted by: wapomadness | August 14, 2009 7:55 PM | Report abuse

You cite the statistic that 80% of Americans are satisfied with their health care and imply that proves that they oppose reform.
I'm well insured and my health care is satisfactory. I'm also aware that could change the minute that my husband were to lose his job. This is happening to 14,000 Americans a day. Cobra coverage is prohibitively expensive for the average middle class family which is being stretched to the maximum to afford the premiums for even standard group coverage.
Being satisfied with a status quo is very different from being opposed to improving the status of every American by reforming the whole of health insurance delivery.
make it universal
make it portable
subsidize basic care for the poor

Posted by: hashihana | August 15, 2009 2:50 PM | Report abuse

I scanned the article and couldn't find the word "liberty" anywhere.

Come to think of it, I have scanned Obama's speeches and can't find the word "liberty" in any of them either.

Let's all remember that Britian is a socialist country that doesn't honor liberty. You can't even have a handgun in your own home, even registered, for self defense. You don't have freedom of speech and can be jailed for "hate crimes" if you don't tow the government line.

Nice place to visit, but....

Posted by: WrongfulDeath | August 17, 2009 9:09 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company