Saturday, December 01, 2007

Health Care or Health Care Administration

The entire discussion going on right now: Hillary Care, Single Payer, SB 840, Schwarzenegger's plan vs. Nunez's plan, has nothing to do with Health Care pe se. It is all about the Administration of Health Care. It is an issue of Social Justice that focuses attention on the financial ramifications of our decisions. That, in itself, makes change to the current processes mandatory in a compassionate society. But it is limited. After all, when government compartmentalizes health care as an issue, all it can do is to open or close the purse strings. Maybe that is why Democrats and Republicans fight so much a do so little.

While working on a different topic this morning, I came across the following statement about the role of academia in "speaking truth to power."
I argue that retreat to the study to compose analyses that "speak truth to power" is quite ineffectual in a world in which forces we wish to denounce have themselves become skilled players of multiculturalist politics. For all its difficulties, more active engagement in the messy realities of concrete situations is the only way forward."
The idea that I wish to call attention to is that improving, making more equitable, the administration of health care does not, in itself, improve health care. I would also argue that there are actions government must take that will go a long way towards making fundamental improvements in the health of our communities and their residents. The list includes:
  • removing the very worst causes of air pollution, since that leads directly to $ billions of costs just in the San Joaquin Valley.
  • combating (with more than ad campaigns) the overall problems of an America where too many citizens lead a sedentary life and are obese with direct health care consequences.

These simple statements make it clear that only a holistic, ecological approach to health care will result in a substantially better quality of life. Air quality is not just an environmental issue: it is a health care issue, an educational issue (schools lose ADA based funding due to pollution caused respiratory disease), an economic issue (lost work days due to pollution cause respiratory disease and premature death.).

Earlier, I referred to the "health of our communities and their residents." That is the clue to where Greens need to base their activism. The Campaign Director for the environmental group Restore the Delta, Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, also started a Healthy Delta Communities project. Putting Green Party Locals in the center of similar efforts in every community would go a long, long way toward building up this party and, more importantly, finding the appropriate local solutions to those "messy realities of concrete situations".

It is truly the only way forward.

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