Condition Critical

That was the name of a documentary I saw in 1992 on health care reform, Condition Critical: The American Health Care Forum, hosted by Phil Donohue. I remember it because I saw it quite a few times. Back then I was still in the one-year job, new city each year, phase of my career, and at one point had been called upon to teach ethics to nursing students. In the documentary Donohue interviewed spokespeople for four different proposed reforms, discussing the pros and cons of each one. Then in class I would discuss the reforms in terms of how they would be assessed by various ethical theories (Rawls, Nozick and Mill).

The first plan was an employer mandate introduced by some government guy in Hawaii. The second plan was single payer, introduced by some Canadian. The fourth plan involved suggesting that everyone in the country receive a set of employee health benefits identical to that received by federal employees, whether they work or not I suppose, funded I know not how. I think it was introduced by some member of Congress.

The third plan was an individual mandate, paid for by a tax break. It was introduced by a fellow of the Heritage Foundation as a so-called market based solution and, because it required people to assume responsibility for themselves and not be a burden on others, a conservative one. Since it has been awhile since I saw this, I did some research just now which confirms that indeed, “Every resident of the United States would have to, by law, be enrolled in a plan that was adequate to cover major health care costs.” (Michael D. Tanner, November 24, 1992; more here). I don’t recall the Heritage fellow’s name, but worries about constitutionality were conspicuous by their absence. Back then, they seem not to have occurred to anyone.

So if I’m following along correctly, the only part of Obama’s health care reform which is the object of conservative criticism now is the only element that it adapted from the Heritage Foundation’s 1992 plan?

If you go to the Heritage Foundation’s website you will find no evidence of any of this. Oceania is at war with Eastasia. Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia.


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