Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Fixing the Leak

Not long ago, I noticed water dripping into our home’s crawl space. After a costly visit from the plumber, I received our diagnosis – a faulty Jacuzzi bathtub. For months, water had been accumulating under the tub, resulting in a wet and moldy subfloor. At this point, I was faced with several options, none of them pleasant. I could; 1) remove the tub and subfloor and start over; 2) attempt to repair the tub with a tinkering approach and 3) do nothing and hope for the best. Option 1 would be costly and inconvenient – it would take the bathroom out of service for weeks. Option 2 was not guaranteed to work and, in my estimation, a temporary fix at best. Option 3 did not really seem like an option, because it would lead to more water, more mold and, eventually, certain disaster. And so, I bit down hard, charged a new bathtub, and scheduled demolition and re-installation.
At first, I was quite certain that I’d made the right decision. But then, I started to imagine what could go wrong. What if the contractor showed up smelling like rotten cabbage and tracking dirt throughout the house? What if my wife didn’t like the look of the new tub and demanded that we send it back? What if the plumber wore a shirt that screamed “ER Doctors Suck.” That would suck and I certainly would be tempted to call off the project. But, what would that get me? Nothing more than a wet and moldy mess.
I’ve been thinking about this dilemma in the context of tomorrow’s televised health care event. The debate over health reform has devolved from focusing on necessity to distraction, distortion and inflamed rhetoric. And, sadly, in the fray many have lost sight of what matters. Much like the leak in my bathroom, the problems with health care in this country – the inequities of care, the runaway costs and the perverse incentives – will not fix themselves. So, it is time to do the right thing, the ethical thing, and the smart thing, and move forward with changing how we view the business of health care. Tomorrow, our elected representatives should take heed of what a former senator once said about health care reform; “At stake are not just the details of policy, but fundamental principles of social justice.”