This is a rather long opinion piece but an important one, as the health care debate goes on and on and entrenced positions seem more deeply entrenched. It is an issue that promises to probably divide an plant some serious seeds of unhappiness if we don't corect one major flaw in all of this discussion. The question is not whether the current systems works but lies in the samantics of the debate. Are we debating "health care"? Or are we debating an industry that seems to maximise profit based on an individual's wellness.
"Health care" cannot be so named if we are to continue to support it as an industry where everyone has there hand out when a person is at their lowest saying, "gimme mine". Follow this reasoning after the fold:
Cross posted from idealthoughts
With all the ups and downs, changes in laws, an Administration prior to this Administration that considered the opinion of the voters and their concerns with the thoughtful commentary and consideration of, "so", all of a sudden we find ourselves wrestling with issues of immediate concern that some suggest again may change the very fabric of this nation. I am not talking about the suspension of Habeas Corpus, nor even the illegal rewriting of the Constitution. I am talking about something that has a great deal to do with how we view ourselves, and how we view others.
The issue is not new and has been on the minds of the public for a long time now, health care. President Obama has made this issue the forefront of his Administration's focus this year and recently health care seems to be the lead off of every evening news story, and of course political discussion/debate. It sometimes seems unclear just how we as a nation view the care of the sick and elderly, and even the youngest of our population when it comes to health care. It is obvious, though clearly not openly acknowledged that health care is an industry that this nation relies on in part for it's Gross Domestic Product (GDP). How do I reach that conclusion? Look at the Senate Committee that is deciding on the future fate of how this country deals with health care. It is not being considered by the Senate committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions,no the fate of health care is being handled by the Senate Committee on Finance. Just as every piece of legislation concerning health care has been managed. This includes those bills on SCHIP, prescription drug care for medicare, and attempts at reforming social security. The Senate Finance Committee decides the fate of health care for the nation. Does anyone besides myself question the why or wisdom of this?
The Washington Post today has an interesting article on Senator Max Baucus (D-Mont),the Chairman of the Finance Committee which should be a must read for anyone concerned with health care's future. Not that this article is in anyway probing or even that in depth. After reading it I was greatly disappointed in the lack of depth contained within the article. Yes, it did in many ways try to give a profile of Senator Baucus, but it seemed as if the writers Shailagh Murray and Ceci Connelly were trying to present this Senator as a popular "maverick" almost folk hero who had had this great mantle of responsibility thrust upon his shoulders with no concern as to whether he wished to bear this burden or not. There was one line though that gave the whole story, and in some ways the hypocrisy of the story away.
The Senate Finance Committee under Max Baucus has never gotten out of the
gate faster and more aggressively on health reform. That's about leadership."
Last May, around the time Kennedy received a diagnosis of terminal brain
cancer, Baucus began studying health care in private tutoring sessions and
through a series of public
I will give him credit for taking the effort to understand health care but why the sudden rush when Kennedy fell ill to assume the lead? The answer is his committee, Finance. After holding a series of Committee hearings over the past few weeks Senator Baucus heard from all the "experts" on health care reform, except one. That "one" is the eight hundred pound gorilla the good Senator and other members of the Committee want tranquilized and hauled away, possibly through "extraodinary rendition", single payer or universal health care. Senator Baucus' comment on the issue....;
Believe me, we hear you. I will meet with anyone who wants to meet. We’ve
got to work with what we’ve got. We cannot go to a single payer system, but
that’s not going to work in this country.
I have one question for the good Senator, "why not"? What is so funny about all of this is despite the wide press coverage of this remark, I have yet to hear one journalist ask him to explain that remark though there was one good letter submittedwith many such questions of Senator's Baucus' close connections with the insurance industry by a consumer watch dog group. Many single payer proponents point to Sen. Baucus' close ties to the medical "for profit" industry as the reason the Senator says the single payer system will not work in this country. It obviously won't work if health care professionals who overwhelmingly support such a system are not given an opportunity to present the merits of the idea. However, then this country might see real "change".
Health care reform will not work if left in the hands of those who seek to profit from the illness and misfortunes of others. No matter how good the intentions of those who seek profit from illness, there will always be a "compelling" reason to deny a test, procedure or medicine for the sake of a few pennies more. Many news articles point to the Obama Administration's desire for "bipartisan support" for this issue. Well I have a good way to get a few Republican and even conservative Democrats on board. Tort reform. Yes, this golden nugget that many conservatives cherish as a way to put a limit on the outrageous legal expenses siphoned off by trial lawyers might pursued a few hold outs over to our side. I had a conversation with several physician colleagues of mine last week and they all noted how they had many friends who left medicine that were "very good doctors" because of the high price of malpractice liability insurance. As one physician noted to me:
It's a system now that forces good competent physicians out of the field
while sustaining incompetent or uncaring physicians"
Opponents of single payer health care like to use those ugly terms like "English/Canadian medicine" or "socialized medicine", yet they over look that the fact that the way medicine is run in this country today it should easily be called "vulture's medicine" or "bend over medicine". If you have employer covered health care and one day need it, many do not realize how adept hospitals and the health care industry has become at collecting premiums yet when you need it pays little in return. Many businesses can not afford "employer based health insurance", so the plan that Senator Baucus favors involves trusting the health industry to keep it's promise to lower costs by two trillion dollars in the next ten years, while squeezing those who rely on Medicare and Medicaid, and for the first time taxing health insurance! Apparently Senator Baucus forgets that was a key provision in the McCain/Palin health care reform platform and it was soundly rejected by the voters last November.
So what is a nation to do with regards to health care? It is a complex question with a complex answer that I admit the complete lack of knowledge, and defiantly one that requires a more complete answer than can be provided here. There is however one major answer I can give. Health care must be thought of in terms of the last word used to describe the process, "care". If you are one who thinks by giving needed care to someone who needs it we are practicing "communism" or "socialism" ask yourself this question. What if it was my child, spouse or another special loved one who needed this procedure to get better? What price would I pay for them to live a quality life free of a disability, handicap, pain, or continued illness that separated that person from the rest of society? How much is their life worth should it be that catastrophic of an emergency? Then ask yourself, do I want some MBA or even some medical professional who has never seen, met or looked at that loved one except through the notes of some hurried nurse or physician, knowing their decision will be based not on the merits of your loved one's life or physical well being, but on the merits of their commission, bonus and how happy some share holders are? Think that way for a moment then come back and tell me single payer universal health care is "socialized medicine" and not compassionate medicine.
There comes a time in our lives when we will need someone, it happens to everyone. Senator Baucus needs to hear and realize he is making a very serious decision for the nation and not an industry and he has neither the right nor the moral authority to "decide" which issues regarding health care should be considered, especially in the manner he is doing now where by all appearances he is putting the almighty dollar as a priority consideration over the needs of the public. If he is to do his job appropriately, he cannot just represent a conservative minority of the population that elected him, especially when he is making an important decision involving all of us. It is interesting to note that in the many articles I read researching this piece, it was consistently noted the "business" side of the health industry felt that "only with Senator Baucus would they get any support or voice. The House of Representatives is also considering this issue and their the insurance industry lobbyist admitted they had little voice". To me it sounds as if a nation has spoken and not a check book.
Update: This diary was written on behalf of a nurse who does love his profession on behalf of all those other medical professionals who struggle daily to bring comfort, care and wellness to their patients and families.
Richard R. Mayfield, RN,C, MS