The Alan Katz Health Care Reform Blog

Health Care Reform From One Person's Perspective

Civility Required Here

Posted by Alan on March 26, 2010

There are plenty of blogs out there where partisans can throw red meat (or blue meat, as the case may be) to their base; blogs where the more outrageous the statements the more praised the writer will be. This is not one of those blogs.

Health care reform generates a great deal of passion and heat. The issues are personal and critical, moral and political, economic and ideological all at once. People have strong feelings and beliefs about America’s health care system. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that – unless it slips into the kind of ugly behavior we’re seeing across the country where vandalism and name-calling seems to be becoming increasingly acceptable.

Because while there’s nothing wrong with being passionate about one’s beliefs, there is something wrong in viewing the other side as less than human, labeling them as socialists or whiners or idiots or what-have-you. Name calling and stereotyping do nothing to shed light on a complex topic. It may make the writer feel better, but it diminishes the debate and the value of this blog.

I’ve let the arguments and venting run for the past few few weeks. First, because I don’t monitor the comments as closely as perhaps I should. Second, because I felt it reflected the anger, jubilation and passion readers feel about what’s happening with health care reform. And third, because I don’t want to stifle open conversations.  I was willing to let some inappropriate comments remain on the site because I didn’t want to stifle the conversation. I did remove some especially offensive comments, but frankly I should have removed more. The tone of the debate on the site has too often slid into an abyss that is neither appropriate nor welcome.

So, as reluctant as I play the role of censor, I’m going to impose a tighter rein on the discussion. Hopefully I won’t swing too far the other way as I truly enjoy the give-and-take that takes place on this blog. The articulate expression of views and perspectives that most commentators provide this blog most of the time is part of its appeal, at least to me.

I very much appreciate that you all take the time to read my posts and share your comments with the small community we’ve created here around the health care reform issue. And I hope you’ll continue to join in the discussion.  When you just have to vent, there’s plenty of other sites available to you. Knock yourself out. But when you’re writing here, please keep it civil.


13 Responses to “Civility Required Here”

  1. Helen said

    Throughout the healthcare debate, you have been the voice of reason. I didn’t read any of the vitriolic, disrespectful messages posted here but I’ve seen enough on the news and read enough to know what is going on. So sorry your blog received those messages.

    I’m probably the only broker who supported reform. While I have concerns about the legislation and its ultimate impact on the heathcare system, I’m thrilled that this country now has a way to begin dealing with the healthcare crisis. I think of reform as a work in progress. We had to start somewhere and I, for one, am glad we’ve made a start.

    Many thanks for your thoughtful, rational discourse on this subject. I look forward to reading more of your comments as reform is implemented.

  2. Scott said

    Thank you Alan, I come to your blog not to hear if someones politics are right or wrong but, as an agent, how do I best deal with the realities of what is out there. I want to know how to play the hand my business has been dealt and how to play most effectivly, not if the dealer is fair or not. I like all the great advise you give on how my business is going to be affected. I also agree with you, Alan, if someone wants to discuss political parties, etc, there are other blogs for that.

    P.S. Thank you again for giving us hope and helping me see the ground hasn’t just opened up and swallowed me and my brokerage.

  3. Malcolm Cutler said


    I must have a built filter that allows me to fast forward through the rhetoric and vitriol.

    I think it has to do with my function, as an agent/broker looking for contructive solutions to the health care and health insurance issues, I don’t really have the time spend listening to or flinging the vitriol.

    I truly hope that the actual implementation takes on a little more bi-partisan flavor.

    As I indicated in my last comment, a read of your link to the AP discussion of rhetoric is really worth a read.

  4. Nosedoc said

    I believe your restraint to this point has been appropriate, but I also agree that this since blog is intended for intelligent discussion, it’s time to eliminate the venom.

    I also believe that even though the reform bill and its mop-up legislation have been passed, health care reform is ANYTHING BUT FINISHED. We will be seeing the consequences of the new laws in the very near future, so the U.S. is going to experience some very dramatic growing pains in the health insurance and health care delivery over the next decade or so. There is still going to be a lot to discuss, as the business models in both health insurance and health care delivery are going to change dramatically over this time, necessitating adaptations by the state and federal governments. Here is an example, from today’s NY Times:

    And this is from yesterday’s Times (I couldn’t resist posting this):

    I look forward to remaining a regular reader and discussion participant of this blog. Thank you, Alan, for being such a capable and even-handed leader.

  5. Mark said

    Alan thanks for stepping in and bringing civility back to the discussion. If only you could do the same for our “friends” in Washington.

  6. JimK said


    Since the heathcare reform bill is now the law of the land this will probably be my final comment. I am saying this because I believe since Healthcare Reform has been passed your primary focus will now be more industry specific.
    Your site was a tremendous source of information and I learned a lot here. So much so, that Spence thought I was in the industry.
    Again, thanks for your hard work and I hope you believe I brought some civil discourse to this forum.

    Jim Kirk

    • Ron Masters said

      Interesting thought about Spence thinking you werre in the industry.

      While much that was said of the insurance industry tending to be fodder for opposing sides, the remarks to have one redeeming point. That beings, Americans started paying attention to the health insurance industry issues.

      Maybe, just maybe, Americans will start paying attention to what they receive from their health insurer and what is on medical bills received and the cost of their care.

      Of course Americans need to understand the difference between health care and health insurance. Not an easy task when lines are blurred by politicians.

      Have a great weekend.


    • Alan said

      Jim: You’ll be missed. Your comments were always articulate and illuminating. Thanks for being a part of the community and I hope you’ll visit now and then. As for the future focus of the blog — your guess is as good as mine. It will, no doubt, focus more on the nitty gritty details of implementation. But the reality is I never expected the blog to become what it has. These things tend to take on a life of their own, in large part because folks like you have such a positive impact.

      Best of luck and, again, thanks.

    • Alison said

      Jim – I too hope you will keep coming.

      • JimK said

        Alan and Alison, I just want to thank you for the kind words and support.


        While I agree with Nosedoc above that the healthcare issue is far from settled and there will be some legislative changes prior to implementation, the majority of the battle will shift towards the regulatory framework. I don’t know how many of Alan’s readers pay attention to the Federal Register or the Code of Federal Regulations but this is an area largely outside the public interest and is a principal target of lobbyists.
        Although I am not an attorney, I am somewhat of a legal junkie, therefore if Alan writes an article based on legal challenges to the law or regulations I will gladly participate. That being said I will not respond to anyone who quotes a Supreme Court decision out of context to justify a purely idealogical point if view. The last good online legal debate I was involved with was Wyeth v Levine.

        Thanks again

        Jim Kirk

  7. Alan,

    I concur with Ron, 100% (I’d say 150% but how does one do that?).

    Perhaps a good way to phrase it would be “Civil discourse with respect for others perspectives”, required here. Certainly that doesn’t mean that we need to agree with others perspectives, but we should recognize that in America we all have the right to our opinions, and that should be respected.

    I, also, want to thank you for providing us with this site. It takes courage, patience, and true heart to run a site such as this, and not go running down the hall, screaming (you don’t, do you? 🙂 ).

    Thank you, Alan. In our tribe, as you know, the highest honor a man can be paid is to be called a “Mensch”. Alan, you are a Mensch!


  8. Ron Masters said


    Yes, civility should be the password for your blog.

    While you and I can disagree passionately, it is my hope that I have been at the very least respectful.

    That said, you do not deserve what some have hurled your way, regardless of opposing viewpoints.

    So, I join with you in debating without anger and agreeing with zest with that is the case.

    From this point forward, I would recommend further discussions as to reasonable implementation and any pitfalls we see and workarounds we could bring forth. We have a great brain trust here,,,why not use it?

    Kudos for a good place to voice opposing views.

    All the best,


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