Reasonable health care debate? Thank the Child

Hands down the best thing I’ve encountered said, written, posted or screamed about health care in recent weeks is a letter to President Obama from 12-year old Californian Nick Armitage. (So, ok, his parents probably helped him write it or a teacher put him up to it, but who cares – this kid was able to frame the argument in its most simple form; and any person of conscience can’t argue against it.)

 “Health insurance is not a privilege but a necessity,” says Armitage’s letter, as seen here on the Huffington Post.

 Finding a reasonable way to ensure all Americans have some basic coverage for medical expenses is a laudable goal —  long, long, long overdue.  If we can all agree that Mr. Armitage’s sentiment is sound, then we should be able to find a reasonable solution.

 Millions of Americans are without any insurance at all, or required to pay exorbitant fees by private insurance companies if they have even the slightest health concerns – all of them praying, every, single day that they will not get sick. Those of us fortunate enough to have “good, employer-sponsored” insurance but unfortunate enough to have had to use it, know how bad the existing system can be. Can a more universal health care approach be any worse? With universal care at least everybody would be on a “level playing field. “

 I’ve refrained from commenting on the raucous health care debate up until now because, honestly, I’ve not read every last line of the proposed changes and have found myself confused (and angered) by the obvious distortions and blatant hostility that has engulfed the debate.

 Sure the idea of “death panels” would scare the socks out of anyones’ sneakers – but, really, does anyone with any common sense believe could actually happen the way rightwing commentators would like to frighten us into believing? And if those opposed to the Obama plan make the argument “keep your government hands of my Medicare!” (which, ummmmm, is actually a government program) than how can any debate be reasonable?

 Our current system, as the New York Times’ Paul Krugman recently pointed out, is already heavily reliant on the government despite what the anti-big-government-Obama-is-a-socialist crowd says. So why not use the already-existing government presence to our collective advantage? The government’s already got its’ hand in your Medicare – and the system sucks. So let’s work within the system to make it work better for us. That’s not socialism, that’s common sense.

 Young Mr. Armitage has got the true measure of this issue at its core. Who among us is going to sit by and watch a neighbor, a friend, a loved one suffer to protect a dysfunctional system? Instead let’s all try to inject some sanity into the debate and find solutions that will work.