Friday, August 7, 2009

Health Care and an Unresponsive Representative

This post comes from a long-time reader, and former central Ohio newspaperman, Old Time Journalist. Thanks for contributing such a great piece.

If you're someone in the legislative district of a Democrat that appears hell bent on health care reform in the Obama mold (one that presumably includes some type of public option), don't expect any specific responses to your concerns that such a system might irreparably damage the choice and quality we now have available.

Last month, I sent an urgent note to 15th District Congresswoman Mary Jo Kilroy expressing just such concerns, imploring her to say "no" to any version that includes a public option that would compete with private plans now available. I was nice but blunt, and very specific in my concerns that any public option would destroy all the advantages our system now offers. I also made it clear I did not oppose efforts to "reform" the system.

Her response?

A mostly mundane and canned reply that ignored my concerns, presumably because they don't mesh with her own (and Obama's) agenda:
"The cost of health care is one of the most pressing issues in our country and that is why it is at the top of my agenda for this year. Health care needs a uniquely American solution to the challenges of cost, quality and accessibility. Reform must include the choice and freedom that Americans with health care have come to expect. (ed note: I did find this one sentence VERY alarming, because it would seem she is willing to sacrifice quality to save money) The most important change I hope most Americans will see is the cost of health care expenses going down.

"Americans need quality health care that is affordable and accessible and also guaranteed. Health care is vital to our economic recovery and reducing our long term spending. Businesses are paying too much for health care and all of us pay the "hidden tax" of the uninsured. Moving our country forward will depend upon reducing the cost and increasing the choices in health care. I hope to work with my colleagues, both Democrats and Republicans, to craft this reform."
This exchange followed an earlier contact I had made with her office regarding the upcoming vote on Cap & Trade, in which I again implored her not to vote for the bill. I was quite explicit in my concerns that it would do nothing to stop global warming and only add hundreds, if not thousands, to the energy bills of people who could least afford such increases.

Her response?

I didn't get one.

Well, I am nothing if not persistent, so I am trying again. In response to her request from constituents for their health care stories, I sent her the following...
I am a lung cancer survivor; one of the rare 17 percent (nationally) who actually lives beyond 5 years after being diagnosed.

Why was my cancer found so quickly and treated within two weeks (surgery)?

Because the system wasn't bogged down by Washington bureaucrats who would have gotten in-between my need for immediate MRIs (two of them), several other tests, and the surgery that saved my life.

There is absolutely no question in my mind that if the US had a public option health care provider when I was beginning my odyssey, I would not be here.

The stories from places like Canada and the UK about people routinely waiting six months for a simple MRI would have absolutely been the difference between life and death for me.

The tumor I had, had not quite gotten into my lymphatic system, but waiting even the average amount of time necessary in those countries would have meant almost a certain death sentence for me.

If there is a public option in any way, shape or form that "competes" with private payers, our health care system is headed for rationing care at the expense of people's lives.

I have no doubt about that.

Reform is fine, so long as it does not destroy the basic structure of our system, which is private in nature and competitive in scope.

Please vote NO on any plan that includes such a public option -- because it might be you or someone you love who is in my position some day.

Old Time Journalist
Will the third time be the charm for me, and will I actually get a specific response to my very real concerns about what Democrats seem intent to do as their version of health care reform?

I have my doubts, but stay tuned...

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