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Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Doctor Is In

Now, y’all know that I’m an ardent supporter of President Obama. One of the reasons why I joined his camp long before he was elected was because of his platform. In particular, his belief that healthcare in the United States desperately needed reform. True to his word, the healthcare wheels are a-movin’ in Washington and it’s causing a stir. A BIG stir.

I am thankful that Americans are thinking about their healthcare system. So many of my dear friends have taken medical treatment for granted, and this new dialogue is making a lot of them think about the importance of health care. Before 2005, I didn’t give health care much thought either. But then everything changed.

You know the story. You know how much money we dished out during Ellie’s first year of life. You know that one of the major considerations regarding our move up to Canada was access to universal healthcare.

Now, though, it seems like almost every American is considering their health care and what it means to them. That’s good.

What’s not good, however, is some of the comments I’ve had to filter, as more of my American friends and acquaintances are examining their healthcare options.

I have no problem with people who disagree with Obama’s healthcare reform plan….as long as they agree that SOME CHANGE is needed, and the discord is based on FACT, not heresy or rumors. You’re nervous about “big government”? Fine. You’re concerned about the federal budget? Understandable.

BUT, during the last few months, as healthcare reform discourse has heated up, I have heard many statements that, in my opinion, are NOT acceptable:

It’s not like people without insurance can’t receive care in the United States. If you go to an ER, the staff is obligated to treat you.

It’s true that every person seeking care in a US hospital Emergency Room is required treatment. If you’re unable to pay for this care, you may go bankrupt, but you won’t be made to bleed to death on the ER floor. I get that.

What really irritates me about this comment, however, is how it’s assumed that “emergent” care is the only kind that matters. What happens if you’re diagnosed with cancer? What will they do for you in the ER? The Emergency Room physician will not administer chemotherapy.

Or, what happens if your daughter has cerebral palsy and the only chance she has at walking, even with a walker, is through intensive physical therapy? There are no Emergency Room Physical Therapists. This comment infuriates me because it completely disregards the Ellie’s out there. The Ellie’s whose parents may not be able to afford (good) insurance. EVERY child deserves the chance at walking (physical therapy) or talking (speech therapy) or using utensils while eating (occupational therapy).

People should be encouraged to WORK for their insurance coverage. I’m sick of covering the butts of lazy people!

Oh my word. For true? The first time I heard someone express this so-called “logic”, I almost puked in my mouth.

I have always thought it a ludicrous practice to tie health insurance to employment. Something as important as healthcare should not be affected by your employment status. I know many hard-working people who have, at some point in their working lives, been laid off from a job. Bum luck. The last thing these job-seekers need to be worrying about is their ability to receive medical treatment. I also know many incredibly hard-working people whose employers don’t offer benefits. The car-repair shop owner, who’s constantly putting in 14-hour days, works MUCH harder than I do. Yet, because he’s a small business owner, making $27,000 a year, he can’t afford insurance. I’m sure the people who are “sick of covering his lazy butt” also want their car fixed at the cheapest possible price.

It’s a ridiculous and SELFISH notion.

MY premiums better not go up because I have to pay for other (read: lazy) people’s insurance.

See previous paragraphs.

I think what saddens me the most about both of these statements is the selfishness behind them. I truly feel it’s our responsibility to take care of our own. And by “own”, I mean fellow human beings. The un or under-insured are just as fearfully and wonderfully made as I am. They are just as deserving of healthcare. They are equally entitled to restful nights, free from the worry of how they’re going to pay for their daughter’s spine surgery. As much as I’d like to keep every cent of my paycheck, I am happy to put some of it back into the healthcare pot. To me, it’s just the right thing to do.

Taking care of the sick is the responsibility of the Church, not the government.

Agreed! In a perfect world, we would all be sacrificing our time, talents and money to ensure that every American was as healthy as possible. The Church would provide physical therapy and chemo to those in need. For free.

But we don’t live in a perfect world. And there are people in need of medical treatment RIGHT NOW. Medical treatment that the Church is not providing. Insurance premiums that the Church is not paying. Hospitals that the Church is not running. Although I try not mix politics and religion, when it comes to healthcare, it’s almost impossible not to. I believe in a God who created every person in His image. As such, I believe those people should be given the best chance at life. Right now, the Church is not providing that. If the government can, at the very least, forge a pathway to these provisions, then I am all for it.

If you really believe that health care is the Church’s responsibility, then your church should be paying a lot of insurance premiums. I suspect its membership should be exploding then too!

If I have private insurance, I better be able to skip to the front of the line and receive treatment before those with government-insurance.

No joke, my ears have honestly heard these words muttered. Blogger needs a rolling-eyes emoticon. (Insert here.)

I am not supporting a bill that endorses abortion and euthanasia.

The Obama-backed healthcare bill DOES NOT support or encourage euthanasia.

“In truth, that section of the bill would require Medicare to pay for voluntary counseling sessions helping seniors to plan for end-of-life medical care, including designating a health care proxy, choosing a hospice and making decisions about life-sustaining treatment. It would not require doctors to counsel that their patients refuse medical intervention.”

(Read the entire article here: or )

The public-option insurance, as proposed in the Obama-backed healthcare bill, DOES NOT cover abortions.

“In fact, none of the health care overhaul measures that have made it through the committee level in Congress say that abortion will be covered, and one of them explicitly says that no public funds will be used to finance the procedure. Furthermore, none of the bills call explicitly for cuts in Medicare coverage, much less rationing, under a public plan.”

(Read the entire article here: or )

Again, I’m not advocating “acceptance at any cost” of the proposed healthcare reform plan. HOWEVER, I am promoting the conversation be based on FACT. These claims are false and it rips my gord to think that people believe these scare tactics.

I don’t want a Canadian-style healthcare system!

Or, sometimes people get really bold and actually use the “s” word: SOCIALIZED MEDICINE! Ack!

I’m not going to debate the merits (or DEmerits) of the Canadian system because it’s a moot point. No one is proposing a like system. Canadians utilize a one-payer system. Every Canadian has the same health insurance: “the government plan”. Every taxpayer contributes into it. Everyone receives the same benefits (though healthcare in Canada is under provincial legislation, so each province’s plan is unique). There is no private insurance option (for major medical). THIS IS NOT THE SYSTEM PROPOSED BY THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION!

The healthcare reform advocated by this administration is universal in that everyone will have access to insurance coverage. Not the SAME coverage. Not the SAME premium. Not even the same benefits.

I don’t want the government making healthcare decisions for me!

I don’t get this one. And I’ve heard it a few times.

Even in a one-payer system like in Canada, I don’t feel that the government makes my healthcare decisions. Richard and I choose our doctors and we most certainly choose Ellie’s doctors. If there’s a lack of choice, it’s primarily because of population sparsity (ie: we live in the sticks).

Even those Americans who are currently insured through Medicare or Medicaid get to choose their doctors.

The one legitimate argument I’ve heard, closely along these lines, is the fear that employers will no longer fit the bill for private insurance and eventually everyone will either pay exorbitant premiums for private insurance or be forced to sign up for the “public option”. I personally doubt this will happen, but I understand the argument. That’s still a far cry from the government making actual medical treatment decisions for you or yours.

After all is said and done and every point is argued, for me, it still comes down to one word: PEOPLE. The value of every human life. The responsibility we have to take care of each other. The belief that every person should have the opportunity to live or walk or see or speak or…. The current US healthcare system is broken and selective. The value of life and independence should not be linked to a bank account or employment status. EVERY person deserves health insurance because they are a human being. Period. Not because you’re very poor. Not because your employer provides a plan. Not because you’re very rich. Not because you’re a public servant. Simply because you’re a human being.


Keely Miller said...

Amen Sister,I couldn't have said it any better. It's like you read my mind. I am praying for th day when healthcare is universal. I wish some people would stop sticking there heads in the sand and think of the greater cause. Thanks for your well spoken opinion. I couldn't agree more.
Big Hugs!!!!

Anonymous said...

I'm not touching this topic with a ten-foot pole. :) Just wanted to say that I saw the new vid of Ellie shopping in the grocery store--precious!!!

KPKoze said...

Maybe we don't 110% agree, but sister, we're like 99.9%. The US needs a change. A BIG one. Here's another one for you: "I don't want to have to wait 6 weeks to see a doctor if I'm sick." I hate to break it to you people, (a) the Canadian's DON'T wait to see a doctor if they're sick and (b) have you ever tried to make an appointment with your specialist??? HELLOOOOOO... 6-8-or MORE weeks out!! Hunter's physiatrist is 8 weeks out easily. My doc for routine things like Paps? 4-6 weeks. Hunter's botox/phenol? Yep, just had one and the next one is already scheduled. It's just the way it is and it won't change if we insure more people and give them adequate access to health care. Plan ahead, it's what we already have to do!! And it's a small price to pay to know everyone who needs to see that type of doctor can. I love how you've laid it out and I couldn't agree more about the NEED for change!! Sing it Sister!!