Thursday, August 20, 2009

Take Two Aspirins

One of my cousins was totally out of her mind about the prospect of health care reform. She is a smart and well informed person so I was interested in her take on the battle. "I take nine pills a day and if there is health care reform, they won’t pay for my medication.” I asked her how she knew that. She read it somewhere. “Do you know where?" I said. She didn’t remember.

This morning I heard that since AARP has endorsed reform, they have lost a substantial number of members. I guess the Republican scare tactics and demonstrations are working because I, also a pretty well informed person, do not know enough about any of the plans to decide if they are good or bad. You just don’t know who to believe about what. The President promises that reform will not hurt anyone – except, I guess, the very wealthy who will incur the additional costs. The opposition says that the government is not capable of managing a successful health care system. The people in the crowds who are protesting are yelling that we can’t let the government get involved in Medicare—these people are clearly not well informed since Medicare IS the government. Then there are the people who say that the elderly will suffer the most, and they will die. These people are not necessarily the same people who think the President will operate death panels, or maybe they are.

The White House is on the defense. Philip Elliott, of The Associated Press says, "Bowing to Republican pressure, President Barack Obama's administration signaled on Sunday it is ready to abandon the idea of giving Americans the option of government-run insurance as part of a new U.S. health care system.” I thought, from everything I have read, that this option was the meat of the program. The White House being ‘on the run’ was rhetorically predictable. As soon as the President started to talk about what health care reform was NOT, rather than what health insurance reform WAS, you knew they were in trouble. While exactly what was going to happen with the reform, was never very clear, so many of us had hopes that whatever they came up with, would be better than we have now. For me, and I assume millions of dissatisfied people, among the health care outrages are things like prescriptions no one can afford, complicated insurance company rules in order to even get to see a doctor, the costs at hospitals, especially in the case of serious illness, and my own personal favorite, the amount of paper work both doctors and patients have to fill out in order to meet insurance requirements.

It’s not hard to figure out who’s behind the attacks, and some would say, the scare tactics. Margaret Talev from the McClatchy papers says "Much of the money and strategy behind the so-called grassroots groups organizing opposition to the Democrats' health care plans comes from conservative political consultants, professional organizers and millionaires, some of whom hold financial stakes in the outcome.” Those troublemakers!

Maybe I just read what I wanted to read, and my mind works in a whole different way (some would say that I’m out of this world), but health care insurance reform made good sense. There are so many people (legal and illegal) without health care, that eventually we wind up paying for their care because they wind up at emergency rooms – and as I said, hospital costs are off the chart. Oh, woe is us.

What’s the answer, if there is one. If you look at health care programs around the world, it is pretty much agreed (by people in the industry) that the French system works fairly well. It is true that 60% of the bill is paid by the government but it is also true that people can have their own doctors and most importantly, no one goes without needed medical attention. In the U.S. Veteran’s care and Medicare seem to work fairly well and they are government programs. The idea that you can choose public or private care makes sense. The idea that the government (state or federal) will negotiate with the pharmaceutical companies for the best prices seems right and my cousin won't have to worry. What seems wrong is that it takes 1000 pages to explain anything to the public. I am told that even if I were a genius I wouldn’t be able to figure it out.

Again I ask, what’s the answer? I guess the only answer is to take two aspirins and call me in the morning – because you probably won’t be able to afford or find a doctor. We’re just sayin’…. Iris

1 comment:

Jay Mather said...

eloquent, beautifully written.