The Spectacle Blog

Politicians and Bureaucrats Working Group, Pt. 2

By on 9.26.06 | 5:47PM

The Citizens' Health Care Working Group's report (PDF) is also plagued with a lot of nice-sounding fluff. For example, "Many Americans hold the view that public policy aimed at the growing crisis in health care cannot succeed unless all Americans are able to get the health care they need when they need it, and that all Americans pay their fair share."

What does that mean? How do you determine exactly when health care is needed, and how do you define "fair share"? Well, actually, I do know how that last one is defined: higher taxes.

The report also relies on some pretty meaningless poll results to support their first recommendation to "establish public policy that all Americans have affordable health care":

In the discussion of underlying values and perceptions that began each community meeting, 94 percent of all participants agreed with the statement, "It should be public policy [written in law] that all Americans have affordable health care." Additionally, most respondents to the Working Group's Internet poll strongly agreed (80 percent) or agreed (12 percent) with that statement. People at many of the community meetings expressed the desire for "cradle to grave" access to health care, guaranteed in law.
Gee, who isn't going to answer affirmatively that all Americans should have affordable health care? However, any public policy that aims toward that end inevitably involves trade-offs, which a feel-good poll question like that above does not capture. Start asking questions like "It should be public policy that all Americans have affordable health care, even if it means higher taxes," or "It should be public policy that all Americans have affordable health care even if it means government must ration health care," and you might not get quite the 90-plus percent affirmative response.

That is what renders so silly the opening paragraph in the Working Group's press release announcing the report:

The Citizens' Health Care Working Group (CHCWG) will issue a report demonstrating remarkable consensus among Americans for public policy that ensures all Americans, regardless of their financial resources or health status, have affordable health care coverage.

Given the fluffiness of the question it would be remarkable if the report didn't find consensus. Ask people if "all babies should eat?" and you likely get a near 100% positive response. The consensus will quickly fall apart, however, when it comes to the question of how we achieve that goal. Health care is no different.

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