Forget partisan politics - get the job done
Let’s get beyond the fact that I am fortunate to even have health insurance. I know that first hand several times over.
That our insurance provider thinks it can decide what medication is best for me, as opposed to our family doctor, is outrageous, but miniscule. It’s not even on the radar of those who suffer serious illnesses and are pushed out of the health care system for various reasons, none related to their medical needs. But it pushed me over the edge.
It’s not simply health care that needs to be reformed. What begs reform is the insurance industry, the pharmaceutical industry (as in the companies that make and market prescription drugs) and the medical profession.
This is a complicated subject, and as much as I have read about it, I don’t even pretend to understand it.
However, what I do understand is that the people we’ve elected to represent us have failed us all miserably. They have made health care reform an “Us versus Them” free-for-all, rather than a rational discussion about finding the method and means to provide affordable health care for all Americans. I’ve had a bellyful.
Our insurance agent of the better part of 20 years is of the opinion that we need a complete audit of how we’re providing health care. Every entity involved in the process, he said, should be examined. Bright lights should shine in every corner, he said, on hospitals, doctors, insurance companies, lawyers, pharmaceutical companies and – surprise -- patients.
Our agent – his name is Rick Ott – said, “We must find answers to why insurance rates have tripled in the past 10 years, why medical costs have quadrupled in that same time period, why drugs are rapidly becoming unaffordable, and why doctors perform so many tests that appear medically unnecessary. We need to ask more questions, and realize the answers may take longer than a 10-second sound-byte, or three-minute infomercial. We need to ask how the reform will impact the ballooning deficit. Will reform increase taxes? Will it make our health care better, or make quality care more accessible? How will health care reform affect our economy?
“If you have to go into a hospital, do you want the best physician available, or whoever is ‘next up’ in the physician bullpen? Do you want your doctor to have access to the latest, up-to-date equipment, or is 20th Century technology acceptable to you? Will you be satisfied with yesterday’s drugs and medicines, already made obsolete by today’s pharmacological discoveries?”
On a recent trip we encountered two Canadian couples, and we asked them about their health care system. Keep in mind that both conversations were brief, but the bottom line for both couples is that they are happy with the national health care system in Canada, and neither have experienced any other form of health care.
They explained that non-emergency procedures usually involve a long waiting period, and procedures, such as removal of a wart – considered cosmetic -- might not be paid for under the system. Long waits for tests using more sophisticated equipment, such as an MRI machine, are the norm.
They do have their choice of physicians and hospitals, and employers may choose what plan to offer their employees.
What that told me is that the Canadian system is not perfect. Obviously, neither is the system in the U.S.
A combination of the two may result in the best of both worlds.
Rather than be in a rush to reform the system and credit Us or Them, shouldn’t the priority be to do the research necessary and engage in dialogue that will result in development of the best system? Certainly reasonable time limits should be set so the job gets done.
A cornerstone of Barack Obama’s campaign for President of the United States was the promise of health care reform. Hold that thought -- but I’m not inclined to rush into reform for the sake of fulfilling a campaign promise within less than a year of the man’s election.
What should happen, and what won’t happen, is that pride, self-interests and party politics should be set aside to get the right thing done.
I’m fearful of what may come out of health care reform. We want to continue to be able to provide health care for our employees. We want to continue to choose an insurance plan that suits our needs. We want to continue to choose what doctors and hospitals we use. As it is, we have those choices, and we pay for them – dearly.
Every American should have access to quality health care.
That is not a partisan issue. It is an issue of right and wrong.
In a country of extreme wealth, this need should be met.
“Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” That is the United States of America. It is not Republican. It is not Democratic. It’s the right thing, and we need to live up it.