I hate to go political here because I can be a bit um, argumentative, in real life when it comes to political issues. I tend to be very liberal in my views and yet I come from a family of staunch conservatives, so conversations can get a bit heated. I try to get my news and information from varied sources. I might hear of an issue on Huffington Post but I do my own research (including what Fox News has to say on the subject, yes really) before coming to my own conclusion. I listen religiously to NPR, I refer to Fact Check and PolitiFact and read C-Span. In other words, even though I tend to be liberal I try not to get my news from mouthpieces and more often then not I side with the Centrists.
So when Pauline published this post over at Classy Chaos (I blog I adore), I got a bit worked up. Then I calmed down and visited my usually sources for clear, factual information on the subject matter and then I got worked up again. Because this post, along with the original one she linked to are what I see as skewed interpretations of the proposed bill. And I will take a moment to stop here and remind everyone that this is only a bill (“sittin’ here on Capitol Hill…”) and the House Version at that. The Senate will have their own version and then the two will be intertwined into a final bill that will go to vote. And President Obama did not write this bill – as Charles Grassley (R, Iowa) is so fond of announcing in every interview he gets.
What struck me about Pauline’s story is that she seemed to be advocating exactly what she said was so wrong with her own healthcare growing up – paying cash for better, faster service. Psst – I’ll let you in on a secret: almost every hospital, except county hospitals, has a VIP wing and services and you have to have $$$ to access them. So under the current system, if you’ve got the cash you’ve got the care. And she paints her 4-hour wait in Paris to see an ER doctor as proof that their system is broken. I’m guessing that she has never visited one of the local ERs. Last year when I had my gallbladder attacks I waited over 6 hours in the middle of the night at a suburban, affluent, top tier hospital to be seen. I wasn’t waiting because of traumas, either; it was because so many people use the ER as their primary care because they can’t afford to see a doctor until they are in unbearable pain. I wonder what her visit to the Parisian ER cost her because without insurance mine would have cost $7,241. My subsequent hospital stay and surgery (for which I had to wait 3 months to get on the surgeon’s schedule) would have cost over $50,000. I’m not sure about her, but I don’t have that kind of money lying around. All told I paid $50 out of pocket for everything – because I am one of the very lucky ones with rock-start insurance. In my former job I didn’t have this kind of coverage nor could I afford the premiums on a single-income.
I wonder if people would feel differently if they were one of the thousands of a full-time, minimum-wage worker making $10,712 a year? Better yet, if they were one of the hundreds of thousands of middle-class poor who can’t afford the more then $1000/month out-of-pocket cost which is the average annual premium for employer-based healthcare and who don’t qualify for gov’t assistance. (That $1000/month doesn’t include co-pays which can be as much as 30% – I couldn’t have afforded $15k for my illness, could you?)
A few things that were singled out in both posts caught my eye:
Pg 42 – The “Health Choices Commissioner” will choose your HC Benefits for you.
Guess what? If you have insurance, someone is already making theses choices for you! I don’t care if it’s employer-based, self-insured or Medicare someone is already telling you what they will and won’t cover and what benifts you get.
Pg 59 lines 21-24- Govt will have direct access to your bank accounts for electronic funds transfer
Pg 195 -Officers & employees of HC Admin (GOVT) will have access to ALL Americans financial/personal records.
Have you ever gotten your tax refund as direct deposit? If so you’ve already handed over your information willingly. And the gov’t already has access to your financial records – it’s called Form 1040 and you are required by law to file it every year. And it includes information such as your investments, childcare costs, medical expenses and housing costs in addition to the basics such as salary, child support and other income.
Pg 241 Line 6-8- Doctors, doesn’t matter what specialty you have, you’ll all be paid the same.
If you became a doctor for the money I don’t want to be seen by you. Let’s hope our doctors became doctors so they could help save lives and they love what they do, not for the paycheck.
Pg 430 Lines 11-15- The Govt will decide what level of treatment you will have at end of life.
Actually, the govt just mandates that you have a living will and be provided with counseling to compose said will. These specific lines refer to the individual’s living will and outline the range of care that can be requested in the will. Considering how quickly the previous administration wanted to get involved in deciding the level of treatment Terry Schiavo received I think a mandated living will could solve a lot of problems.
Those are just a few points that I have reviewed. No, I have not read the full 1000+ page document, but I have read the lines in question and think that Jill and Pauline have a skewed interpretation of the bill. Take a few moments and review them yourself and see what you think. And maybe do a bit of research, too.
I don’t think this bill is the best solution, but I think it’s a good start. Because to me, America should not be a country where 62% of bankruptcies are caused by medical expenses and 78% of those HAD HEALTH INSURANCE (source: American Journal of Medicine, August 2009.) It shouldn’t be a country where people hold fundraising nights, spaghetti dinners, car washes and sales to pay for medical care. It shouldn’t be a place where people have to choose between living in pain and getting care. It should be a place where your basic needs, including healthcare, have a safety net.