Change is horrible

Ira Lacher warns it would be a mistake for the Democratic presidential nominee to promise to take away millions of Americans’ employer-provided health insurance. -promoted by Laura Belin

Looking back at the 2016 election, there were at least five types of Americans who voted for Donald Trump: nativists and xenophobes who consider America a white country; independents who absolutely detested Hillary Clinton; Obama voters fed up with the Democratic Party for apparently tossing them under the bus in favor of big corporations; dyed-in-the-wool Republicans who would have voted for Thanos, if he had run as a Republican; and all of the above: those who couldn’t cope with the accelerating change, already at warp speed, altering our culture, politics, economics, and the very framework of America.

In one analysis of the way people react to change, the first five reactions are all negative: denial, anger, confusion, depression and crisis. Psychologist James Prochaska postulated that there are various aspects of change, from preparation through action. As we go through each of these stages, he said, we can ready ourselves for the next, and put ourselves in the best position to cope with the alterations.

But society has been changing so dramatically, so fast, that there seems for many no time to enter the various stages and prepare. One day, we are gainfully at work, with a well-paying job that required nothing more than a high school education; the next, that job is gone, never to return, and with it our lifestyle.

Or, as author Rosabeth Moss Kanter wrote in the Harvard Business Review, change can affect us on a more personal level, resulting in a perceived lack of control, loss of face and feeling of competence (“If I had done my job better, I’d still have it”), along with a resurfacing of old resentments. No wonder Americans are quaking at the prospect of “socialists” hiding under our beds, although the Soviet Union and international communism have been dead since CDs ruled music stores.

So if we agree that for many of us, major change is bad, why, then are so many Democratic presidential candidates advocating for major change, especially in the way we get our health insurance?

Most Americans get their health coverage from their employers, and yes, it’s ever-more-expensive, frustrating and complex. But it’s the devil we know. (See Prochaska.) But there go Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders raising their hands (and Americans’ anxiety levels) saying yes, they would replace it with something else.

When Hillary Clinton trotted out her committee’s plan to overhaul health care in 1993, it directly resulted in the Republicans taking over Congress in the following midterm election. Nor did Barack Obama make friends when he foolishly and erroneously said about the proposed Affordable Care Act, “If you like your health plan, you can keep it.” It wasn’t only that tens of millions of Americans worried about losing their health care — they did. It was also that their predictable reaction to extreme change escalated to Defcon 1.

In his book Fear, journalist Bob Woodward writes that Steve Bannon convinced Donald Trump he would win if he told Americans that electing him would vanquish exactly what they feared most: a Hillary Clinton presidency that would escalate frightful change. The last thing we need to beat Trump in 2020 is to nominate a candidate who plays right into that scenario once again.

Top image: Photo by Javier Allegue Barros via Unsplash.

  • regarding health care reform

    I agree that a public option (Medicare buy-in) is an easier political case to make than Medicare for All with no private insurance, especially in suburban areas (which were mostly responsible for Democratic gains in 2018). But I disagree that Trump won in 2016 because people were afraid Hillary would bring too much change. 2016 was a change election. Hillary was seen as the continuity candidate, while Trump was seen as someone who would shake things up.

  • Something is missing in the Medicare for All conversation

    I find it amazing how the Medicare for all headlines are seen as a proxy for Single Payer. Yet I suspect that many don’t realize that Regular Medicare only covers 80% of Hospital and Doctor visits. It took GB2 to introduce Rx coverage in 2005. No discussion of the flavors of Medicare (Advantage vs Original) and how Medi-Gap picks up portions of the 20% not covered. Not to mention No Dental, Hearing nor Vision coverage under any circumstance. So much is missing in the discussion, and few politicians are able to articulate how change will be so much better for so many people (unless the health cartel intervenes). Kind of like the Death Panel argument against the ACA in 2010. Our sick care system is incredibly efficient in extracting wealth for a minority.

    People don’t understand that Private insurance is alive and well and will be even if everyone would be covered under M-4-All. Not to mention there is no discussion how Employers are shifting employees to crappier higher OOPE/deductible plans, or jettisoning the responsibility with the gig economy . No discussion how many hate their job but cannot afford to lose their insurance. Most only focus on the loss of the familiar and not understand the freedom of having health care as a basic right.

    I disagree with the author that Hillary’s health plan directly caused the 1994 Red Wave. Too simplistic of analysis. Mid Term swings are way too common. I do believe that some democrats have a chronic problem with hubris and overconfidence. Especially the middle-of-the-roaders currently running for the Dem Presidential nomination.

    Not changing may seem safe in the short run, but not a strategic move in this day and age.

  • The only thing we have to fear is fear itself

    If we wait for an adult to enter the room and just encourage everyone to calm down, and everything will go back to normal, it will be a long wait. Change has been happening, and will continue to happen, and most people sense that. Are they afraid? Yes! Offer them leadership – a way to deal with the new reality. Like Franklin Delano Roosevelt, we need someone to be honest with us and offer us a way forward. “I have a plan for that.” is more powerful than you think, and Elizabeth Warren is the most FDR-like candidate in the race.

    She is not the only candidate in the race who could provide vision. Let’s not pick at a specific policy and worry ourselves over it. What if going bold on health insurance allows people to keep their health care providers, and does a much better job of controlling costs? What if voters can see that big Pharma is eating everyone’s lunch, and that a single payer system is the best route to challenge the power of big Pharma (as an example)? I’ll take leadership over fear.

  • Laat one out of Des Moines turn out the lights.

    Guess what Iowa’s leading industry is? Agriculture?

    No. It’s Insurance & Finance.

    Wellmark, alone, employs over 1700 people directly, plus any number of independent agencies, contract employees, etc., in professional positions at decent wages, salaries and benefits.

    It is easy for candidates who have employed few, if any, people themselves, let alone even worked in the private sector, to talk about eliminating an entire industry.

    But consider the consequences.

    From Omaha, Nebraska to Columbus, Ohio runs a midwest insurance and finance corridor employing thousands of professionals, many young, and all of whom Iowa and other midwest states desperately need to retain. As soon as those idealistic kids figure out their beloved Bernie or loquacious Liz mean to eliminate – not some nameless, faceless corporate monstrocity – but their own livelihoods and one of the very few thriving 21st century industries in the area, they’ll balk.

    I am for a single payor system. More accurately, I believe medicine ought to be seen as a public utility. Nobody blinks an eye at municipal water, or highly regulated and centrally managed electrical generation and distribution. But somehow medicine has inappropriately fallen into profit-making hands.

    But to unravel that will take time, planning and political foresight so as not to completely decimate one of the chief economic underpinnings of the state of Iowa, our neighboring states and the country as a whole.

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