Real Debate on Health Care is Lacking, Opines Prof. Kevin Howley

Real Debate on Health Care is Lacking, Opines Prof. Kevin Howley

June 15, 2009

Kevin Howley 2005.jpgJune 15, 2009, Greencastle, Ind. — "Despite all of the high-minded rhetoric and political posturing on either side of the aisle, the central question of whether we should treat health care as a marketable commodity or as a fundamental human right is the proverbial elephant in the room: Everyone knows it's there, but no one wants to talk about it." That's the view of Kevin Howley, associate professor of communication at DePauw University, who contributes an op-ed to this week's edition of Indiana's Bloomington Alternative.

Dr. Howley writes, "Instead, congressional Democrats and Republicans try to score political points with the electorate through incremental reforms, such as putting medical records online and other 'cost-cutting' measures, that leave the status quo unchanged. For its part, corporate media frame the health care debate in terms of winners and losers among the political class in Washington. This health.gif'insider baseball' style coverage makes for good copy, but it reduces substantive policy deliberations to a spectator sport. The result is a lopsided policy debate that fails to address the root causes of the health care crisis: a system predicated on profit making rather than cost-effective, high quality universal health care."

According to the professor, "a single-payer health care program -- one that would replace the for-profit system with a government program that guarantees health care to all Americans ... is considered a political nonstarter" and is an option which has been subjected to "political stonewalling" and neglected by the media. "Indeed, advocates of single-payer system had to apply enormous pressure on the White House to even get an invitation to Obama's health care summit a few months ago," Howley says.

howley community media.jpgThe column concludes, "In the coming weeks, President Obama will launch a major public relations effort to promote what can only be described as an incremental approach to the health care crisis. To borrow a phrase from Obama's stump speech, 'This is our time' to let the President, the Congress and the health care industries know that technical fixes and half-measures aren't the sort of change we had in mind last November."

Access the complete essay at College

Another recent op-ed by Professor Kevin Howley -- who authored the book Community Media: People, Places, and Communication Technologies -- is summarized in this recent story.