Monday, September 28, 2009

American Values and Healthcare Reform


Chris Fleming of Health Affairs recently posted and article about American values and health reform at this link. In it he writes:
During the current health reform debate, both Democrats and Republicans have often made their case in terms of values such as liberty, justice, and equality…philosopher Paul Menzel…argues that this apparent conflict between justice and liberty can be addressed by considering liberty "in its fullest context, bound up with responsibility – where both are connected to fairness and justice."…[And Thomas Murray, Hastings Center president] argues that"…simplistic understandings of values are deceptive and harmful to private insight and public discourse. Liberty, properly understood, is not the opposite of equality; justice, not the opposite of liberty; and responsibility, both personal and social, is crucial to the full realization of liberty and justice. Efficiency, an instrumental value rather than an end in itself, is intimately related to quality, solidarity, stewardship, and justice. Core American values, rather than existing in ineluctable tension with one another, form a sturdy, mutually reinforcing foundation for health reform."
I agree that personal and social responsibility, liberty and justice, efficiency and quality are (or at least should be) core American values that guide the healthcare reform debate. They fit in perfectly with the four criteria and eight objectives for judging how likely any government policy will create a sustainable healthcare system, which I wrote about last week at this link. And they are consistent with an article I posted last month at this link about a principled and pragmatic approach to healthcare reform that emphasized empathy and compassion.
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