One Rule

We are beginning a new series outlining the big ideas that would serve as the foundation for Tim’s proposed healthcare reform plan.  Click here to the list of posts.

I may have shared this story before, but if so, it was long enough ago that not only did I forget, but most of you will have as well.  Getting to repeat yourself is one advantage of having ‘more traveled’ friends.

The first day of school always includes the teacher going over the rules for her or his classroom.  Most of those lists dealt with everything from chewing gum to late homework to talking in class.  All such lists were long and repressive, designed to interrupt our real objectives with this dang ‘learning’ thing.

Except for Mr. Sadler’s ninth grade algebra class.  When he got to this point in his introduction, he calmly noted that he had one and only one rule.  ‘Do right.’

That was it.  Just do right.

Then of course, he gave many, many examples of what constituted doing right and others of not doing right.  As the sole arbiter of which was what in his room, his ‘examples’ sure sounded like a lot of rules, but he gets credit for a creative approach in nudging teenagers toward personal accountability.

So, in his honor we start our thoughts about what we would do if somehow we were in charge of crafting the nation’s healthcare policy with a simple attempt to ‘do right.’

As we noted in our recent stroll through the concept of a single payer system, the primary argument of its proponents is that is a moral outrage for the most prosperous nation in the world to allow its vulnerable citizens to suffer the horrible consequences of not having the appropriate access to healthcare.

And I agree with that point, whole-heartedly and without reservation.

Three of my liberal friends just collapsed in disbelief that those words would come from an entrepreneur, a word that comes from a Latin root meaning ‘greedy, capitalistic pig.’  Many of my conservative friends are sending me some old Fox News DVDs to watch as a form of restorative therapy.

We have outlined here repeatedly that healthcare costs per person are not equally distributed and land with an impossibly crushing weight on the poor, elderly and really sick.  My faith and a general sense of human decency compel me, personally, to conclude this is a moral issue. I chose that word intentionally and believe the policy discussion must be rooted in that conviction.

Please print off the preceding paragraph and keep in handy when you think me heartless as this thing unfolds.  That was my FIRST point!!!

Unapologetically, I start with morality before economics. 

However, I believe it is just as immoral to saddle our future generations with an equally crushing burden of public debt.  Again, I chose the label carefully.

Our current broken system suffers from both immoralities, but I refuse to accept the idea that solving for the present one by making the future one even worse is a good idea.  And that, I firmly believe, is what a single payer system would do.

So, yes, Mr. President, solving healthcare is hard for many reasons, the chief being we have ourselves a moral dilemma.  But that is reality and we must deal with it head on.


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Tim Coan, ALN’s CEO, writes an insightful and witty blog three times a week about a variety of topics relevant to independent physician practices.

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