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A Personal Perspective on Health Care

10 days ago, my mother fell while visiting her primary care physician. He had to put three stitches in the back of her head. Last Monday, she fell in the porch outside her house, and it was necessary for her to have surgery on her arm, which was broken in two places and the elbow was dislocated. The hospital did the surgery Wednesday and kept her overnight for observation. She was released Thanksgiving morning and my brother and I drove her home. I went to my home where my wife was preparing Thanksgiving dinner, and received a call from my brother around 345 PM; Mom had fallen yet again and hit her head.

Mom spent the rest of Thursday in the Emergency Room at Memorial Hermann Hospital, and she was admitted into the NTICU around 1 AM Friday morning. Her vital signs were unstable and the tests showed a possible aneurism. Fortunately, her condition improved over the next couple days and today Mom is being transferred to a different ICU. She has insurance through Medicare and a supplemental provider. The costs of the multiple stays will be expensive, but for the most part Mom's costs will be controlled. On the one hand, my Mom paid for many years on insurance she never had to use, but now it is an invaluable resource. Overall, in my Mom's case the system seems to work the way it is meant to do.

Health Care needs reform; there is no serious argument on that point. The rules can be burdensome, the costs rise more quickly than anyone can really afford, and there is real concern that a large segment of the population is underserved. The solution, however, cannot be found through simple application of a mathematical formula, or any political theory. Medicine, first and foremost, is about people. The patients and their families, the doctors, nurses and other providers, and the general public all have authentic interests in health care and how it is provided.

There are economic and political reasons why I do not like the reform plan proposed by the Obama Administration and the Democrats in Congress. But the main reason is far more personal - the Democrats make a lot of promises, in general and lacking substance, about access and choice, but they refuse to have a serious debate about the cost, effects, and conditions of their proposed changes. I need to know what the changes will mean to a 76-year-old woman who needs multiple trips to ICU. I need to know what the changes will do to my continuing treatment for cancer, a type which at this time has no known cure. I need to know what the changes will do for my other relatives, including my wife and daughter. The proposed plans seem focused only on cost reductions, with no protections for significant demographics, like seniors, people with chronic and incurable conditions, or people who are healthy now but face a history of serious problems. The problem is not that these questions have not been answered yet, it's that the Democrats refuse to even admit those problems exist, that they have to address them in public discussions. Debate and disagreement have been suppressed and punished, with constituents locked out of allegedly public meetings, with alternative proposals by Republicans denied consideration and debate. The only plan offered to the public is the Democrats' plan, with no serious attention given to flaws.

Until the Congress listens to the people who are affected by this plan, and serious effort is made to improve the plan to create an effective, functional plan, I cannot support it on any rational basis. Nor do I think that anyone who lives in the real world will find the proposed plan acceptable when they understand how it works, or more to the point, will not work.


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Comments (17)

When those in government wh... (Below threshold)

When those in government who want this bill passed will drop whatever they currently have and get whatever this bill provides, than I will accept what this bill provides because the people in Congress and the POTUS may be liars and cheats, but they aren't stupid.

"...a 76-year-old woman who... (Below threshold)
John S:

"...a 76-year-old woman who needs multiple trips to ICU.."

Easy, look to the U.K. First trip is free. Second trip, 3 month wait. Third trip, end of life counseling.

The problem with the Democrat's various plans is that the real cost will add another $1 trillion plus a year to the budget deficit. The government will default on those entitlements before the program even begins. Only the extremely wealthy will still have access to (private) doctors. I see a new use for cruise ships: large private hospitals floating just outside of U.S. territorial limits.

packer- even that's not goo... (Below threshold)

packer- even that's not good enough for me. DJ writes 2 significant words in in his 2nd paragraph - "supplemental provider". Anyone who has had to transition from a top-notch private plan to medicare knows that the shortfall in coverage can be made up with supplemental insurance, if they can afford it. So if our government weenies were to accept a public plan for themselves, it would merely be a no-lose gesture as they would simply make up the difference with additional insurance.

My prayers are with you and... (Below threshold)

My prayers are with you and your family in your time of need.

What health care reform nee... (Below threshold)

What health care reform needs is an administration that is more interested in solving the problem, rather than taking advantage of the problem.

"...they refuse to have a s... (Below threshold)

"...they refuse to have a serious debate about the cost, effects, and conditions of their proposed changes."

They refuse because the creation of over 100 commissions and advisory groups to administer this abortion will greatly INCREASE the cost of health care.

This Congress isn't about "cost reduction", it's all about GOVERNMENT CONTROL.

Ref #5. Why wasn't the refo... (Below threshold)
JC Hammer:

Ref #5. Why wasn't the reform done then during the years 2001 to 2006? And no, it will not add 1 trillion to the budget. Get your facts correct, please.

I'm unclear on why "Health ... (Below threshold)

I'm unclear on why "Health Care needs reform". We have the best healthcare in the world. What about it needs reformed?

Is the concern that there are people in the country who are uninsured? If the goal is to get them insured, then insure them. But don't go screwing around with the best healthcare that there is.

Unless, of course, you are talking about tort reform--massive changes are needed there.

"And no, it will not add 1 ... (Below threshold)

"And no, it will not add 1 trillion to the budget."

Because JC believes everything Pelosi and Reid tell him. Hey JC, how's that "stimulus" working out? Especially all those jobs 'saved and created'.

"Ref #5. Why wasn't the ref... (Below threshold)

"Ref #5. Why wasn't the reform done then during the years 2001 to 2006? And no, it will not add 1 trillion to the budget. Get your facts correct, please"

No, it will add 1 trillion to the deficit. Only 1 12th the trillions Obama has blown so far but still a trillions a trillion.

Sorry about your mom, DJ.</... (Below threshold)

Sorry about your mom, DJ.

But look at all the money government healthcare will save us: They'll save billions on the H1N1 vaccine they won't give to seniors over 65. They'll save billions more on mammograms and PAP smears. It's just a matter of time before prostate cancer treatment will be refused for seniors (they're going to die within 5 years anyway). And all that money we wasted on artificial joints and wheelchairs for old people. And there's no point wasting money on ridiculously expensive, frivolous chemo drugs for seniors, when simple hospice care and "end of life counseling" can save billions more.

Gotta save the real money for young, taxpaying, productive members of the Great New Society. Like 20 million illegal aliens, abortion patients, sex change patients trapped in their own bodies and plastic surgery patients. The ones who really need our help.

All of these are government initiatives. If you don't think that government healthcare will lead inescapably to rationing, you're either an idiot or you aren't paying attention.

Gotta rush that healthcare legislation right through by the end of the year. Not a moment to waste, you know. There's an election to win in 2010.

they (dems) refuse to h... (Below threshold)
Tina S:

they (dems) refuse to have a serious debate about the cost, effects, and conditions of their proposed changes.

We could have a serious debate if republicans stop with the death panel nonsense and stop equating liberalism with communism.

I'm unclear on why "Heal... (Below threshold)
Tina S:

I'm unclear on why "Health Care needs reform". We have the best healthcare in the world. What about it needs reformed?

Keep drinking the cool-aid.

Tina S. - Look, he... (Below threshold)

Tina S. -

Look, here's the problem the way I see it.

We've got a system that WORKS. It may not be optimal, it may not cover everyone to the same level. It's expensive - but we've got insurance to cover, and those who aren't covered by insurance don't pay for emergency room care.

We pay for insurance now - and I'll grant you that it isn't cheap. Employers pay for a lot of it, so our costs aren't exorbitant. If you're NOT covered, we frequently get faxblasts offering comprehensive coverage for roughly $200 a month for singles, $300 a month for families. That requires a level of personal responsibility and initiative, however, and might require some decisionmaking on the part of the person needing the insurance.

You seem to want take a system that more or less works - that can be easily modified with minor legislation to cover those who currently aren't - and scrap it for some nebulous system that'll cover everyone, for an unspecified cost (but is widly considered to be at LEAST $1 trillion over ten years, with only 5 years of that actually paying out benefits) administered through a massive governmental bureaucracy.

This will be paid for... how? By increasing taxes. Increasing them on businesses - which will then pass the costs onto customers. There is no way it could EVER be revenue-positive - or even neutral.

You seem to think that there's no downside to changing the entire foundation of medical care, ignoring the massive failings of other socialized systems like the UK. (There's even proposals for privatizing their hospitals, because the problems of places like Basildon.)

And you're not even really willing to admit that there ARE possible problems that need to be addressed, or there's some potential remedies other than a massive governmental grab of 1/6th of the economy.

So as far as I'm concerned, your concept of 'serious debate' seems to consist of "It doesn't matter what you think, we're going to do it anyway." No matter the cost, no matter the objections, no matter the problems - you want it done. WHY you won't address the problems is your own look-out - but they're not going to disappear just because you don't want to see acknowledge them.

You want a debate? Don't frame this as a 'crisis'. Don't frame the solution as all upside with no downside. Don't push the idea it'll be 'free' - there's NEVER anything free about an increase in government spending. Specify where the money will REALLY be coming from, not handwave the problem away with talk of controlling fraud in Medicare and the like.

Don't push bills through that are massive piles of glued-together, amended crap, that nobody in the House or Senate are given a chance to read, much less we vast unwashed rabble that this will actually be affecting.

Don't visibly bribe Senators and Representatives to vite for this stuff. The $300 million to Sen. Landrieu was a big damn slap in the face to anyone who's thinking our Senators and Reps are actually listening to the people - and it's going to be remembered.

Above all else - try acting like YOU are going to be paying a part of the cost of what you want - because you're going to be doing so one way or the other.

vite=vote.Sigh.</p... (Below threshold)



Serously, Tina S, try thinking beyond the sound bites. Actually analyze what's being proposed, and never forget the law of unintended consequences. Ask yourself - "How could this piece of legislation that I'd dearly love to see enacted turn around and bite me in the ass?"

Be imaginative, and consider what it would take to avoid your worst-case scenarios - and ask yourself if the legislators who are voting for this would ask themselves the same question.

Senate Majority Leader Harr... (Below threshold)

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) released a merged version of the Senate comprehensive reform on 11/19/09,
which Mike Oliphant, whom manages www.benefitsmanager.net for Utah based health insurance plans for employers could get
behind and support some of it (Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or H.R. 3590).
This should encourage the private sector health insurance carriers to form INSURANCE EXCHANGES which is what we have
done here in Utah. They carry the risk and burden, not the tax payer. See more about this at www.utahhealthplans.info
You would be surprised about the willingness of carriers to co-share risk amongst their immediate competitors. They simply
focus on profit from the 4 to 5 percent administration fees. A government run public option could not achieve this.

Some reform is needed (like... (Below threshold)

Some reform is needed (like tort reform) however, if had a choice of staying the way we are or having congress "fixed" things...I vote to stay as we are....because that is how little confidence I have in congress doing anything good for the taypayers. It can only be worst for us...






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