Ask the White Guy: The Value of Healthcare Reform

Luke Visconti’s Ask the White Guy column is a top draw on DiversityInc.com. Visconti, the founder and CEO of DiversityInc, is a nationally recognized leader in diversity management. In his popular column, readers who ask Visconti tough questions about race/culture, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability and age can expect smart, direct and disarmingly frank answers.


Question:
The fundamental issues of cost [of healthcare] are not being addressed. The fact is that more care will result in more tests and more diagnosis. That will add cost. This was the same flawed assumption of the HMO system. Please look at the Cash for Clunkers Program if you need a recent reminder of government inefficiency. ONE-TRILLION-DOLLAR DEBT = the country is broke. This program will turn us into one of the so many insolvent countries of the world and make us irrelevant as a world power.

Answer:
This has nothing to do with cost—but it has everything to do with values. Over history, taking care of people properly has proven to be an excellent return on investment. There’s nothing in the Constitution about public schools, but I can’t imagine a better return on investment—except where they’re allowed to fail. There’s a pattern to that failure: I find it very telling that it suddenly becomes not OK to follow up eight years of record-breaking spending when the people who would benefit from resolving the healthcare crisis are disproportionately Black and Latino.

A close look at American history shows us that our greatest problems are linked to conflict with our true values; our founders struggled to integrate slavery into a Constitution that presented rights as unalienable and belonging to people, and that lack of resonance resulted in a civil war that killed more than 3 million Americans (proportionate to today’s population). The Great Depression was caused by the xenophobic Smoot-Hawley trade act—despite the fact that our Declaration of Independence and Constitution do not talk about rights belonging to those with certain documents or living in certain boundaries.

In my opinion, it is reprehensible and immoral to have healthcare and to turn around and protest other Americans’ ability to get healthcare for themselves and their families. Further, echoing the opinions of jingoistic, but non-veteran, child-men such as Limbaugh and Beck—people whose credentials and accomplishments (outside of rabble rousing) wouldn’t fill a thimble—is an abuse of our First Amendment. The First Amendment enables you to have meaningful intellectual discipline. Read up on the subject, think for yourself and present some well-thought-out solutions.

The failure of our current system of healthcare is accelerating: Year after year of double-digit premium growth has resulted in a precipitous decline of Americans being provided healthcare by their employer—which will soon be less than 50 percent. Further, a story not being told is about the millions of Americans whose work status has been degraded—full-time supermarket workers with healthcare benefits being turned into part-time workers with no benefits, for example.

That means that your little island of comfort—where YOU have healthcare but can put your foot on the head of anyone trying to get some for themselves and their family—is shrinking. You’re not safe by denying others healthcare, something I would describe as a right in the modern world. You endanger yourself and our nation.

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