Don’t ever change?

We have nothing to fear from reform — except fear of change itself

This morning, I opened my email to find a news item that read “Polls show support slips for Obama’s health plan” – citing a New York Time/CBS News poll in which 69% of respondents said they “were concerned that the quality of their health care would decline if the government put universal health insurance in place.”

I wasn’t completely surprised because I’ve literally heard the tide of public concern growing. Over the weekend, we had a small party and it just so happened that (I swear – without my prompting) a handful or people started talking about the health reform proposals inching their way through Congress.

As I listened to a familiar stream of message points, I was impressed and heartened that my friends and family have obviously been paying attention to the debate. I was also really surprised at the passion of each side. There were red faces, loud voices, indignant glares. Some of them sounded like they’d been backed into a corner. They were, as the headline above said, “concerned.”

That’s understandable, because the potential for change in the health care system is HUGE. The changes needed really are drastic. The investment in those changes will also be HUGE, and that’s daunting in this economy. It’s not really a shock that people are concerned that things could get worse.

But here’s the other thing: our little party focus group participants ALL could agree that the health care system is ailing. They complained about denial of coverage and the greed of the insurance industry. And I’d suspect they could all agree that the system is ALREADY getting worse.

And that would jive with the feelings of the American public at large. While some polls have shown that Americans would be more comfortable with “the devil they know,” another recent poll shows that Americans know full well that the existing system truly is a devil – and they’re afraid they’ll get burned if and when they face a major health crisis that forces them to file a claim.

So is it OK that everyone wants to take a deep breath and tap the brakes (and that’s happening now)? Sure. But it’s also important right now to remind ourselves that Congress is taking drastic action because the nation is faced with a drastic situation.

We need to channel our concern into change by voicing our support for the provisions of the legislation that make sense to us. We can’t throw the baby out with the bath water.

We can not afford to be paralyzed by our fear.