Talking Sophisticated

August 9, 2009
Posted by Jay Livingston
It's very important that -- that there be a robust waste, fraud and abuse oversight of health care, not only in the government programs of Medicare and Medicaid, but clearly the duplicity that we find in our health care system. (Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI) at a Congressional hearing, June 17, 2009).
A sensible health reform plan that coordinates and simplifies all government health programs like Medicare, Medicaid and the proposed public option with one easy-to-understand set of rules would reduce confusion and duplicity, and save money.
Thomas M. Cassidy Setauket, N.Y., Aug. 3, 2009 (NYT, Aug. 3, 2009) The writer, an economist, is a clinical associate professor in the School of Social Welfare at Stony Brook University and a former senior investigator with the New York State attorney general's Medicaid Fraud Control Unit.
I’ve made my peace with solecisms. I don’t even use the word solecism any more. The linguists have converted me. What I used to call “mistakes” I have learned to think of as “interesting.” These interesting word choices call not for correction but for explanation and even appreciation.

If people talking about a lucky break say “fortuitous” instead of the pedestrian “fortunate,” that’s fine with me. If they think characterizing a relationship as “ideal” doesn’t sound sophisticated enough and instead call it “idyllic,” even though the couple live in midtown Manhattan, hey, I can get behind that too. I know what they mean. At dinner I myself no longer use salad “dressing”; chez moi, we pass the dressage.

But sometimes the “interesting” word choice can be confusing. Like duplicity. Rep. Camp seems to be a conservative, linguistically I mean. He even uses the subjunctive. Correctly. And Prof. Cassidy is an educated man, an educator. But by duplicity, does he mean deception or does he mean duplication? No doubt, both are unwanted aspects of Medicare and Medicaid. I just wish I knew which one to be concerned about.

I guess what a good health care system needs is less duplicity and more singularity.

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