12 August 2009

Health Care - My Two Cents

There is a lot of noise going around right now about Health Care. Town Hall meetings across the country resemble mosh pits more than anything else. Friends on Facebook are arguing on each other's walls. Twitter is a buzz with people voicing opinions and tweeting URLs to back up their points. Late night comedians are having a field day with the whole thing.

I decided that I would state where I stand on this whole debate unequivocally here. On my blog. Where I have some control over the amount of space I devote to this topic.

I support Single Payer Health Care. I have been a supporter for some time now. I have three close friends whose health care stories have influenced my decision, but along the way, I have met many others. I would not deny care to any of the folks that I have met, but private insurers would and have.

Let's start at the beginning (a very good place to start):

My friend was rushed to the hospital with kidney failure. A diabetic since childhood (Type 1), her kidneys had finally given up. Her insurance company will only pay for her to have one new kidney. Her transplant team insists on a new pancreas as well since that will help ensure that the kidney lasts. She has been on dialysis three times a week for the past five years! She can't afford to pay for the pancreas. The only way she could afford to have the transplant her team wants is to become destitute and go on Medicaid.

Another friend was shopping at Home Depot with her husband when a pallet full of pavers toppled over on her crushing her leg. My friend was rushed to the nearest ER where she sat waiting for many hours. The ER was not particularly busy, but that hospital didn't want to treat her because, as a schoolteacher, her insurance wasn't good enough. Her husband began calling other hospitals til he found one that would treat her. 30 hours later, she was finally treated.

Lastly, my cousin was nearly killed (technically she was dead) when she was hit by a drunk driver and crushed in her car. Her medical bills were enormous and the driver was under insured. She lives in a state where attorneys are entitled to one-third of the settlement regardless of what the insurance had paid for without suing so even if she sued successfully for full payment of her medical bills, she would still be short the money to pay them. She ended up having to sell her house to pay her bills. She was left with life-long pain management and other now pre-existing conditions that make her uninsurable.

For myself, I have worked a corporate job for most of my life and I have always had insurance through my employer. But after losing my job, I was not able to make the COBRA payments. If not for the Obama administration's current subsidy of COBRA, I would not have health insurance right now.

Single Payer Health Care provides health care to all citizens regardless of employment, pre-existing conditions, or ability to pay. Patients have free choice of doctors and hospitals. Care is co-ordinated through a Primary Care Physician. Co-pays and premiums are established based on ability to pay. Any care that is not medically necessary according to the Primary Care Physician can be obtained by waiting a prescribed amount of time &/or paying an extra fee. Prevention & Wellness are stressed as these are real money saving ways to provide health care. Chiropractic, Acupuncture, and other alternative treatments are also covered.

I have supported the Single Payer movement here in CA, both with my time and my wallet. I supported it when I was fully insured by my employer and when I was uninsured because I couldn't afford insurance. I am happy to say that Senator Mark Leno has taken up the reins and authored SB 810. I encourage everyone to read it:

CA SB 810

There are two current bills in the US Congress. One is HR 3200. Dennis Kucinich has written an amendment which would allow states to keep or enact a Single Payer option. The other is HR 676 which is the National Health Care or Medicare for All bill. You can read that bill here:

HR 676

The important thing in the current Health Care debate is to not be swayed by the media coverage of riotous town hall meetings. The important thing is to keep your eyes on the target: Health Care Reform. I encourage everyone, including our President, to take the time to read the various bills pending before Congress and to write to your representatives to let them know how you want them to vote.

You can find your representatives here:

US Senate

US House of Representatives

Remember, your elected Representatives work for you. So be a good supervisor and tell them what you want them to do for you!

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