Tommy: Trading Health Care Plans

Tommy Tucker, WWL First News
March 23, 2017 - 12:24 pm
Way back in 2000, after we narrowly escaped the Y2K disaster (insert eye roll emoji here) a television show premiered on The Learning Channel called “Trading Spaces."  The premise was pretty simple. Two couples would “trade” their homes or apartments with each other for a complete makeover.  Neither knew what the other was doing or had planned, and it had to be done in only two days.  The show ran for over a decade, and it was one of those television programs that I loved to hate-watch.

That show has been on my mind lately, and I hadn't been able to figure out why.  Then it hit me.  A revival of “Trading Spaces” is back.  It’s called “Trading Health Care Plans,” and it’s playing to mixed reviews in the nation’s capital.  Before you presume I’ve been overcome by paint fumes, let me explain.  

On “Trading Spaces”, each couple crafted their makeover without consulting their friends as to what they wanted, liked or even needed in a living space. They were free to force their tastes on the other and hope that it suited them.  “Trading Health Care Plans” would appear to be following the same shooting schedule.  The Democrats had their turn to make over America’s health care system as they saw fit, with limited or no input from the GOP, and proceeded.  The resulting Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) turned out to be a dud when it was time for the big reveal and the other side saw what they had come up with.

Now it’s the Republican’s turn to makeover America’s health care system.  Once again, following the script, they’re proceeding with their vision sans input from the other side.  This time, though, it seems as if the couple themselves are fighting internally, unable to decide what’s good or bad, acceptable or unacceptable, tasteful or distasteful when it comes to the makeover.

Which brings me back to the show and what’s currently happening.  I said “Trading Spaces” was one of those shows I loved to hate-watch.  The premise bugged me to NO END because it made NO SENSE to have the people who actually had to live there have NO SAY in what the finished product would look like.  I often wondered if the camera crew had time to leave before the homeowners were changing their newly redone spaces to something they wanted to live with.

The other thing that drove me crazy was the artificially imposed deadline.  Having renovated my first home, performing most of the labor myself, I can ASSURE you that working as fast as you can while you’re exhausted is no way to measure, saw, paint or do just about anything else.  Mistakes are frequent, obvious problems are overlooked and the work is sloppy.  I always wished I could see the result of the overnight “Trading Spaces” labor-marathon in person instead of on TV. I would bet the paint looked like it had been applied with a mop and that the new couch was hiding wooden molding that was, after being cut three times, still too short.

Americans, both personally and through government, spend in the neighborhood of $3.2 trillion on healthcare per year. That’s a pretty ritzy neighborhood. So let’s not paint it with a mop. Let’s give both sides a voice to find out what they need and can live with.  Let’s tackle the problem pragmatically and not politically; and that means a bi-partisan approach, regardless of who has the majority. And finally, let’s remove the self-imposed artificial timeline. It’s more important that we get it right than that we get it done quickly.

James Freeman Clarke, an American theologian and author, once said “A politician thinks of the next election. A statesman, of the next generation”.  It’s time for statesmen and stateswomen to trade places with politicians and reveal themselves. It’s time to slow down and get it right.
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