A Healthy Blog

Massachusetts health care — wonky, with a healthy dose of reality

Our Postmodern Health Reform Moment

Our Postmodern Health Reform Moment

April 12, 2006

Most of what's real or "true" right now regarding the new Massachusetts health reform law is only words on a page: the words of a statute signed into law today; the words of a veto message. The avalanche of commentary in the media, here, and everywhere is not truth -- it's the attempt to shape meaning so that this or that group's or individual's interpretation will become the accepted version of truth down the road. Truth vs. interpretation -- my advice: don't confuse the two. And an awful lot of interpretation runs around masquerading as truth.

Example: Today's New York Times has a discussion of the new law on its business page, click here. The money quote is at the end: "Mr. Romney and the legislature have given Massachusetts companies a way to drop coverage without appearing brutish. If they do so — if they really want to get out of the insurance business — the debate about health care will change very quickly." Gadzooks -- is this new law the nightmare of the left or its salvation?

Then there's the Wall Street Journal's editorial kicking lots of sand in Gov. Romney's face, aimed squarely at his self-serving op-ed in yesterday's edition. Click here -- but subscription required. Their money quote also comes at the end: "The real health insurance problem in America today isn't lack of coverage per se; it's the inability of insurers to offer affordable policies in many states. By making a fetish of "universal" coverage, Governor Romney has bought into a bidding war that Democrats and advocates of socialized medicine are bound to win in the end."

Who's right and who's wrong? Events, unforeseen developments, and emerging opinion shaped by alternative commentaries -- these will mold what becomes regarded as truth. Quite likely no one in the end will have gotten it just right.

Me? I'm rooting for the Wall Street Journal's version of what truth will become.