Health-care reform: Window of opportunity is closing fast

October 7, 2009

 

altOK. I’ll admit it. I’m one of those Americans extremely dissatisfied with my health care coverage.

Not that I’m a natural rabble-rouser or anything like that.

I’m just fed up with, in no particular order: Congress, mouthy political pundits, pharmaceutical companies, well-meaning but largely ineffective governors, medical groups, sanctimonious senators (aka windbags), emergency rooms, the same-old partisan politics and health insurance companies – especially health insurance companies.

From where I sit, the health-care looks like a dysfunctional mess. Reform is long overdue. But without effective leadership, from the White House on down, that “window of opportunity” everybody’s been talking about will be slammed shut without so much as a whiff of a change to the system.

And lots of Americans, if the latest poll numbers are correct, apparently believe that’s a good thing.

A recent Rasmussen Reports survey, according to examiner.com, found that health-care reform – as envisioned by President Obama and the Democrats – is opposed by 56 percent of Americans. And senior citizens are leading the charge against the Democrats’ plan. Just 16 percent of those 65 and older “strongly” favor it while 46 percent “strongly” oppose it.

What’s even worse, as far as this independent is concerned, is that the divide, which seems to have crystallized in July, according to Rasmussen, breaks down along party lines with 75 percent of Democrats support the plan, 79 percent of Republicans oppose it.

At last report, independents – as many of 72 percent of them – were siding with the GOP.

But here is the real Rasmussen eye-opener: 68 percent of Americans rate their health care coverage as “good” or “excellent.” Predictably, most of those people fear health care reform either will degrade their coverage or cause them to lose it altogether.

So, how did I miss out?

I mean, is it good or excellent care when your insurance company tries to replace your diabetes medicine with an alternative drug that previously caused you to experience an allergic reaction?

Is it good or excellent care to sit in a hospital emergency room for three hours, surrounded by coughing and sneezing people, while you watch blood slowly seep from a gash on your wife’s head?

Is it good or excellent care for a hospital emergency to bill your wife $43 and change after she left without receiving so much as a paper towel to dab away the blood on her head or being seen by a doctor?

What about the cost of health-care coverage?

Large monthly premiums, deductibles and co-payments; it all adds up. My monthly health-care costs are starting to resemble a luxury car or mortgage payment.

Sorry folks. I’m glad 68 percent of you believe you receive top-of-the-line health care. I’m really happy for you. But that doesn’t mean that the system isn’t broken. How is it that as an industrialized nation we are ranked first in health care costs and last in quality of health care coverage?  For my money, it needs to be rebuilt from the ground up – with an eye toward stemming escalating costs and improving the quality of care for everybody.

Sky-rocketing costs are plaguing business owners, especially small business owners, as well as their employees.  So, what do we do about it?

First, let’s call a moratorium on political posturing.

Second, let’s listen to each other rather than trying to verbally bludgeon your opponent without allowing him or her to respond. Shouting down your opponent may be fun, but it won’t produce a solution.

We need a solution. Health care costs are crippling the economy. What I’d like to see is a plan that’s heavily front-loaded in favor of preventative measures – rewarding healthy lifestyles and behavior – yet still able to provide meaningful assistance, if and when catastrophic illness does strike.

Something also needs to be done about the estimated 40 million people without any health care coverage. When these people become ill, they often seek treatment in hospital emergency rooms. We already pick up the tab for those who don’t have the money to pay for their treatment in the form of higher insurance costs, among other things. Yes, we all will continue to pick up the tab for them under the reform legislation now being considered in Congress.

But what’s the alternative?

Can we really afford to allow 40 million people wander around, carrying any number of communicable diseases, without treatment of any kind?

Hello.

Anybody out there worried about the spread of the H1N1 flu virus this fall?

What do you think it would be like without any kind of treatment and-or vaccination plan for indigents? Talk about national security risks!

Maybe we should place health care under the control of the Department of Defense because unchecked diseases such as the flu can be every bit as devastating to a nation’s people and economy as missiles and bombs.

The point is: we need to pull together, work together, to find a solution that will achieve the greatest good for the greatest number of people.

C’mon, people. Let’s stop pointing fingers and get something done. We can do this.

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