Can We Talk?

at 11:35 PM

I'm one of 1 million Californians who have had their health insurance cancelled in the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. While this is a financial problem and I'm without health insurance for the first time, the reaction I've experienced from the left and the right is just as troubling.

I'm a card-carrying liberal who gets emails daily from Moveon tellng me how awful the other side is for unfairly criticizing the Affordable Care Act. I recognize that those of a different political persuasion are getting at least as much of this sort of stuff from the right. Neither is a good thing for our country.

If I so much as mention my situation to liberal friends I get a bit of sympathy which quickly degenerates into a critique of Republicans. When I discuss this with conservative friends, I get that same bit of sympathy, which quickly degenerates into an indictment of liberal ideology. My sense is that the folks at Covered California, now the ONLY impediment to me keeping my policy, are in the first camp, managing a moral crusade rather than a public health initiative.

There's something terribly wrong here. Irrespective of who we voted for in the last election, we should be able to have an intelligent and respectful discussion about how to fix flaws in vital public policies like this. But we can't. Who is really served by those on either side who would try to sow the seeds of disharmony at every possible opportunity? Certainly not the average citizen.

I think it's time we recognize that this nonsense is harming all of us. While the Affordable Care Act is certainly solving some problems, it is also causing others. If the objective is to enlarge the pool of healthy citizens, why is Covered California insisting on policies that will cause many to leave this pool? As a Covered California agent told me the other day, leadership of the health exchange needs to place "pragmatism over ideology."

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For this to happen we need to get to a place where folks start thinking as individuals with a responsibility for one another rather than as members of opposing teams.

With a Perspective, this is Dan Grassetti.

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Dan Grassetti is a technology entrepreneur. He lives in Berkeley.

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