The more I've read about the healthcare debacle, and the more I've ruminated over the president's proposals to reform our healthcare system, the more I've been inclined to think about what we are really doing here that is scaring some Americans so badly.
We are standing at the beginning of what could be a seminal moment in American history, when our "all the profit you can generate" healthcare system is transmogrified into the "this is enough profit" healthcare system.
Because if President Obama truly intends to accomplish any of the major goals regarding healthcare reform that he has laid out for his administration, the reality is that we as a nation are going to have to make a fundamental shift in the kind of business philosophy we think is appropriate for our healthcare system.
In many ways, what Obama's plan demands is a new way of seeing the healthcare industry, moreso in the way that we have come to see our power companies, for instance - as an industry whose machinations are so necessary to modern human life that they are in effect the equivalent of public utilities.
Maybe it has been the constant repetition of the phrase "public option" the last few days, or maybe it was an article I read in the Weekly Standard, or maybe it was the way the proposed bill seeks to regulate so many aspects of the healthcare fee-for-service transaction - whatever it was, it got me to thinking about the power companies and how closely we have regulated them, and how we have pre-determined for years how much of a profit they could make.
Duke Power and Georgia Power have some of the happiest shareholders in the country, the public feels that it gets a quality product at a reasonable price, and everybody, even the unprofitable customers, have access to electricity as long as they can pay their bills.
The thing I am wondering is, if the president could put what he is trying to accomplish in these terms, would it remove some of the anxiety for those who fear the unknowns behind his reform efforts? For those who see the erosion of their capital as the only result of reform?
Right now, without being able to point to an example of what he is looking to get done down the road, the president is left with a lot of loose ends from his current proposal that are just dangling all over the place because they are not a part of a larger, coherent, easily digested narrative structure.
With 46% of healthcare expenditures already being paid by the government through its existing programs, and the onset of the baby boomer bulge that is due to start swelling the ranks of Medicare aand Medicaid, President Obama has no choice but to begin to act now if the government is to have a fighting chance.
The question is, how long will it take the rest of us to realize this?