Health care fit for a dog
Radio talk show host (!?) Garrison Keillor, renowned for for his droll wit on A Prairie Home Companion, unwittingly made a good point about health care, in a column that appeared in today's News Leader. It's not on their Web site, but you can read it at chicagotribune.com. Keillor notes that Americans currently spend about $10 billion a year for health care for their pets, with the clear implication that that is just way too much, and then muses, "Perhaps there should be a public pet option." He meant that in a rhetorical sense, of course, but I think it may be worthwhile to consider a notion, absurd though it may be.
I bring this up in part for very personal reasons: a trip to a local animal clinic for emergency pet surgery this very weekend. We (that is, our canary Princess) received prompt, attentive care by a professional veterinarian, and were apprised of the full cost in a very direct, comprehensible way. Why? Mainly because there were no insurance forms or government regulations to interfere with the doctor-client (as opposed to doctor-patient) relationship. If we had health insurance for our pets, whether public or private, it would probably result in unnecessary tests, leading to higher costs, as well as withheld treatment.
In his column, Keillor goes on to mock conservatives' fear of socialism, and then proceeds to make arguments based on socialist premises, such as ascribing moral choice to collective entities -- the fatuous "we." He is just preaching to the liberal choir. Like Rush Limbaugh, he is a semi-serious satirist who makes serious points with humor, but it's often hard to separate the humor from the argument. His implied impatience with the pace of the debate (wanting to "be done with this and get ready for the World Series") is probably a sign that he doesn't really want a reasoned debate over the merits of the alternatives, but wants to push through universal health care as quickly as possible by appealing to sentiment and guilt.
In sum, health care services for humans would probably improve if the same practices followed in veterinarian clinics were adopted by hospitals and private practices. So, in that sense, Keillor is right on target when he takes note of the superior level of health care enjoyed by pet animals in America.
Goodlatte's public forum
At the insistence of local political leaders, Congressman Bob Goodlatte held a forum on the health care issue at Turner Ashby High School yesterday. (I was unable to attend because of an emergency trip to the veterinarian that I had to make, mentioned above.) Fortunately, the crowd of over 600 people was fairly calm, permitting a rational discussion of the complex underlying issues. Goodlatte stood firm on his opposition to Obamacare, but like other conservatives, he is still searching for an adequate alternative to full government control of health care. See the News Leader.