Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Healthcare Can't Wait

Tonight President Obama will remind us all that the nation is in a state of crisis. He’ll probably do it in an eloquent, reassuring, hope-inspiring way (at least, I hope), but that’s the general message. The Union isn’t so much united as floundering in a sea of crisis that erupted on Wall Street and usurped Main Street. The conservatives say that Obama’s agenda is too broad. That he overcommitted and overpromised and we should all feel let down or lied to. They want him to back off on healthcare and focus on the economy and how to create new jobs in America. Well, for a president in a time of multiple crises, he’s going to have to have multiple foci. And I’m glad that he has maintained that healthcare is and must be a priority.

I am well aware that people need jobs. I don’t mean that to sound flippant at all. Some of my very talented and smart friends and family have lost their jobs in this downturn. But as a chronically ill young adult, I know how fragile personal health is. I know that if you are not healthy, work is difficult to accomplish. Being a productive contributor to society and taking care of your family is always a challenge. But try and do it when you’re ill and uninsured. We have a sense of pride in our country’s healthcare efforts around the globe. Can’t we take the same pride in helping each other? There’s a moral imperative to do something here—to give people options and help them help themselves. President Obama knows this. Speaker Pelosi, Senator Reid, and the Democrats’ dearly departed supermajority know it too. I even believe deep down the Republicans know it. After all, if Massachusetts is a red state now, then their healthcare system makes them look at least a slight purple hue.

It makes me sad and upset to think that the US might actually lose another opportunity do something to start to rein in healthcare costs and extend insurance benefits in a fiscally responsible way to people who really need it the most. And it makes it worse to think it’s because the GOP was better at the game of politics than the Democrats. For example, how the heck could Sarah Palin so effectively spread falsehoods about “death panels” and her flock could think that maybe this time this lady who has been so wrong and so uninformed finally got one right? And how could a staffer from Senator Warner’s (D-VA) office dismiss my plea for my senator, who I gave my sacred vote to, to step up on healthcare reform, by suggesting that his rank (freshman) doesn’t give him the clout to do the right thing? Ugh, Capitol Hill is corrupt, but I digress.

Everyone has their own point of view and priorities on healthcare issues from abortion to reimbursement. Healthcare can be a very personal issue. You may have a parent, grandparent, or friend with cancer who can’t work and is headed towards medical bankruptcy. You may have heard some nightmare insurance stories of denial based on a pre-existing condition, or rescission because an insurer decided to stop paying claims. If not, ask me. I would be happy to tell you just how evil Aetna, BCBS, and United can be. You may have read about medically unnecessary spending on expensive imaging tests. Or heard folks call for tort reform so physicians don’t feel forced to order such tests or procedures to avoid a lawsuit. And while they sort of lost me at “Stupak”, there are policies in these bills that can actually do something to help control costs in the long run and ensure that you aren’t bullied by profit driven corporations just because you’re sick.

And one last thing. Young adult America has been called out by Washington. Senator Baucus thought he was doing us a favor by including a provision for catastrophic coverage in his bill, he called us “young invincibles” and the media agreed that our generation was unconcerned with healthcare and insurance issues because we had the attitude that we were going to live forever. I am offended by these insinuations. But, the thing is healthcare costs are not very transparent. So, I wonder if that’s why our Gen Y has not been as vocal in this debate. Do you know what your doctor’s rates are for a 15-minute office visit? What that flu vaccine costs? How about that resetting and casting of a broken bone? Most people do not, but instead of degrading our generation, how about you offer those of us who work part-time or have other jobs without real comprehensive coverage options? I could be wrong though, is that the general attitude among my healthy peers? Are we really so short-sighted?

This is just yet another opinion amongst many out there. Hopefully, the Democrats will get healthcare done and soon I can join the hallelujah chorus too.

Related links
Interesting discussion on healthcare costs:
Why Does Health Care Cost So Much?
Sen. Baucus’ POV

For the wonks at heart:
NYT healthcare policy, analysis, and history
Washington Post healthcare debate tracking

1 comment:

  1. To me, the biggest barrier to passing the healthcare legislation has been that Obama hasn't clearly articulated what it DOES for everyday people. I hope that it can cut costs, extend care, and improve quality, but no one's been on my TV saying that! Instead, we've been hearing about what it DOESN'T do (no more public option?) and what it THREATENS to do (death panels and Stupak). Obama let this become about the legislative process, which no one wants to hear about as much as we have, instead of about the things he ran on: hope for something better.
    Frank Rich has a good piece on Obama's failure to communicate:


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