Gary Oftedahl: Is it just me….
Is it just me? Or is the level of civility dropping at a rate faster than the pull of gravity? Is it just me—or has the rush to conclusions accelerated to a rate which appears incompatible with the capability of the human brain to make rational decisions? Is it just me—or has the level of partisanship and division amongst us reached a chasm which exceeds anything described in the Institute of Medicine report, Crossing the Quality Chasm?
Is it just me—or is the apparent distortion of information elevated to a level which makes trying to truly understand the impact of the recently passed reform bill nearly impossible? Is it just me—or are others concerned about how the citizens of our country seem to feel that elimination of pre-existing conditions coverage issues, financial support for those who can’t afford insurance, increased attention to prevention, increased interest in access, is the “end of democracy as we know it” and a government takeover of health care. I might be more understanding if even a whiff of a “public option” had survived to make the bill, but I find no evidence of that topic anywhere in the ponderous document.
I’m by nature an apolitical person. If asked to describe which way I lean, I might respond—“that depends”—and mean it. It is my nature to consider the topic, and then contemplate what position might best support moving that area of concern forward. This personal trait, perhaps indecisive to some, is what has often allowed me to succeed as a facilitator, a convener, and a catalyst. I rarely have the solution to any problem, at least those that are complex, and am suspicious of those who often pontificate and posture themselves as having the answer. We live in an uncertain, complex world, with many challenges, and are at a time like no other in needing to find common ground, a place to collaborate and work together in addressing the problems we confront.
It is worrisome to me, and more than a touch saddening, that in an area where we should all have a major concern—maintaining and supporting our health—we have moved to a point of partisanship and division which is reaching the level of threatened and real violence—unfortunately not only verbal and psychological, but at times physical. I don’t claim to understand the ramifications of the recently passed 2,305 page bill—I’m sure I’ll not even read it all. I’ve worked in health care for more than 35 years, and have for years had a sense that there was a need for a fundamental change, perhaps a social revolution, to drive the system to become efficient, effective, patient-centered, and affordable. That’s the naivete in me.
At this time, when asked about the health care reform bill, it appears it’s really not about care reform, but it begins to address the need for insurance reform. And even there it may not be challenging the status quo in a way which will be necessary to drive true change. But I may be wrong—there are both intended and unintended consequences for every innovation. But I fear we’ll have little chance to identify those.
The immediacy and vitriol of the response, the partisanship being exhibited by both sides, the posturing being demonstrated, and the inherent complexity and uncertainty of the bill are all part of the environment which causes me to have trouble contemplating the long-term effects of the passed bill.
I’ve read many other blogs addressing this issue, almost all more erudite and logical than mine. But this reflects the emotional and mental state in which I find myself. It would best be described as confused and concerned—and not just about the future of health care. When we see the often misplaced rage, the vulgar invective, the emotional and fearful responses now being expressed, it raises societal concerns in my mind. Where are we going, how can collaboration be more than a clever choice of terms, when we seem unwilling to compromise on our political beliefs and needs. Is it just me—or are others concerned? I’m still hopeful, but tempered by a harsh slap of reality. Is it just me…..