Healthcare is bound to be a big issue in the general election campaign but are the parties thinking ahead? asks Barend van Lieshout.
In the run-up to the elections the political parties are going to take in their positions. Healthcare is undoubtedly going to loom large in the party programmes. It would be a good thing if parties were to concern themselves with finding solutions for the deficit that is lying in wait. On the other hand, the temptation to ignore it will be hard to resist.
Politicians aren’t supermen and we shouldn’t expect them to perform miracles. With national and international healthcare sectors failing to come up with answers for the looming deficit we can hardly expect party manifesto writers to suddenly see the light as they wrestle with the next paragraph.
The role of politics in all this is vital nevertheless. Market parties are being faced with a long-term problem which they find difficult to oversee, a state of affairs the government is comfortable with.
At the same time, it would be a lot to ask political parties to tackle problems stretching over several decades. The healthcare deficit is much less noticeable than the stagnating housing market or the groaning pension funds. In an election battle in which every euro counts only the bravest of the brave will dare invest in an invisible problem.
It would be a much more attractive proposition to hone in on the distribution side of healthcare: who’s getting it and who’s going to pay for it? This will give parties an opportunity to act as defenders of large groups of voters, and come up with heart-wrenching examples of seriously ill and out-of-pocket fellow citizens. An ideal opportunity to touch voters’ hearts and wallets. But no matter how we distribute costs, the problem isn’t going to go away.
Ideologies don’t wash bottoms
Another tempting variant would be to use healthcare as a prop for ideological principles. Market forces, yes or no, for example. A socialist world view needs a socialist healthcare system, a liberal world view favours market forces.
That won’t work either. A politician who doesn’t know what care for the elderly is going to look like in twenty year’s time won’t know if his ideology is going to play any part in it. Ideologies in themselves don’t wash people’s bottoms.
And although it sounds nice, we are not going to be better off with the healthcare care bears who want to pour ever more money in the healthcare pit. ‘More staff on the work floor’, ‘investment in professionals’, it all sounds perfectly reasonable but without any long-term solutions any additional million will evaporate with a tiny hiss in the wake of the disappearing Agema-funds.
I have a proposition:: why not vote for the party that looks beyond the distribution proposals, avoids ideology-driven solutions and doesn’t spend in order to win votes. I can’t wait to see which parties can resist the temptation.
Barend van Lieshout is a care advisor at Rebel
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