Aging Like Fine Wine

By on February 28, 2012


The Politics of American Health Care: What Is It Costing You?

The health care crisis is upon us. In response to soaring costs, a jumbled patchwork of insurance programs, and critical problems in delivering medical care, some kind of national health insurance has seemed in recent years to be an idea whose time has finally come in America. For those not protected by insurance–and often for those who are partially protected–illness means financial disaster. The quality of American medical care is at issue too. After twenty years of unprecedentedly high spending for research our public health standards have fallen far behind some countries with fewer resources. We rank seventeenth in infant mortality, according to a United Nations study; thirtieth in life expectancy for males, behind Spain, Greece, and five Communist nations in Eastern Europe. And yet, writes reporter Godfrey Hodgson, for all our troubles, an opportunity to reform American health care has slipped by. How could this be? And where do we go from here?

by Godfrey Hodgson


Certain things improve with age….fine wine, landscaping, great acting, my wife, and winning coaches for starters.

aging well

How about health policy issues? I was rummaging around The Net researching a piece and came across this article from the Atlantic Monthly in October 1973. I quote only the executive summary, but give a link to the full and lengthy article.

It is surprising how little this article has aged. The active figures he cites are long gone. And, yes, we have finally had an attempt at reform, but here is a reporter who went out in search for a story in the days when embattled President Richard Nixon was still hanging on to the White House. He found one, and it sounds a lot like what he would have found today. Hodgson termed the situation a crisis then. What would he say today?

embattled president

He recognized the need for reform then, foreseeing how this would impact the average American, if not addressed. What he did not foresee was that the country was about to take a sharp turn to the right and that forty years later we would have a major presidential candidate who would rail against higher education as elitism, congressmen who would publicly doubt evolution, politicians that would say the poor aren’t worth worrying about, and that the word progressive would become suspect. In the 1950’s, people talked about Progress compulsively. GE’s slogan was “Progress is our Middle Name.”

Caution was always a watchword of the day. The solutions we might have seen then are not the ones we would see today. But the ‘crisis’ issues have only grown more complex; the politics more prickly; the numbers with more zeros at the end.

Today a significant portion of the country prefers to look backwards, paralyzing forward-looking action, pining for a golden era that is never coming back, and wasn’t all that golden in the first place. Can we turn this around in the near future? The answer is in your hands.

Tom Godfrey





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