(cross posted from tpm)
I second Graham.
ABC's new reality show, Miracle Workers is the wrong take on health care. The show, following in Extreme Home Makeover's footsteps, creates a construction that Bad Things happen to people, and a choice handful will be lucky enough to come under the lens of millions and deemed worthy of assistance. It's a revival of the notion of the deserving poor -- this family’s house is crumbling from foundation to roof, but because the mother also rescues turtles from the highway, they've done something to deserve help.
But the Miracle Worker conception of the deserving poor is much more insidious. As the show sets out to:
give ordinary people who do not have the network, access to the necessary medical community or in some cases the resources to these procedures. Their seemingly overwhelming medical problems will be taken in hand by a renowned team of medical specialists. The patients’ lives will be transformed before viewers’ eyes as the professionals employ cutting-edge medical technology to heal those who need it most.
It’s taking the uninsured and making them special cases to nurture and heal. It’s ignoring the fact that 46 million people are in the same place as the two patients featured every week on this show.
It would be prohibitively expensive to rebuild every crumbling home across the nation, but the added cost of covering the uninsured is quite small. There’s a variety of ways to go about it; some involving small changes, others monumental shifts. But this problem isn’t uncurable; it’s not a fact of life (or doesn’t have to be). It’s fixable. This show could really make leaps and bounds for health care if it discussed these cases in the context of what they are: the lucky few of an addressable problem. Every person in this nation deserves access to this kind of care, and there’s any number of ways we can go about ensuring that. We should take that joy and hope the sick enjoy when they get adequate care, and use that as reason to cover everyone.
Instead Americans will blissfully sit in front of their television, eyes a little wet as the “miracles” progress, little thought given to the rest of the uninsured and how they’ll never see doctors like this.