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Are You For or Against Health Care Reform and Why?

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I am wondering how many parents are like me in their inability to keep up to date on political issues. It is frustrating to say the least, to not have the time to listen to the news or to read the newspapers and whenever I do get the chance to get better informed I usually wind up either in tears and angry from reality or completely confused.

Listening to educated people is my alternative and I try to listen to all sides so that I can make my own opinions. One of the most important topics right now is Obama’s Healthcare Reform Plan and I could not hold an intelligent conversation about it to save my life so I went to a meeting on Organizing for Health Care to get better informed.

The meeting was held in a remarkably beautiful Aspen home with a view of Aspen Highlands looming outside the kitchen window. I felt like a fish out of water and proceeded to gobble down some fellow shrimp that were served on a platter and decided to listen only and keep my mouth shut for once.

The keynote speaker was Dr. Pramenko, a family physician from Grand Junction, Colorado. Grand Junction has one of the lowest-cost, highest-quality heath care systems in the country comparable to The Mayo Clinic and Kaiser Permanente. It has an accountable-care organization where the leading doctors and the hospital system adopted measures to blunt harmful financial incentives and took collective responsibility for improving the sum total of patient care.

This approach has been adopted in other places and all have produced enviably higher quality and lower costs than the average American town enjoys.

The first question that Dr. Pramenko asked was why anybody would want this relentless momentum of no change. It is true that Health Care does not work so why would people prefer to keep this system and allow our nation’s balance sheet to continue to skyrocket the cost of health care?

Dr. Pramenko, cited in The New Yorker in a June 1st article, said that there are three tenants to the plan that make it worth fighting for:

1. Universal Access
2. Choice
3. Cost Control

The second speaker was Sheri Cogley, a regional Field Director for Organizing for America, and she made the point that President Obama is staking his entire Presidency on Health Care Reform. Why would he risk serving only one term unless he believed that America needed a change?

The fact is that we are the only country that does not provide health insurance to its people and consequently there are more than 46 million Americans who are without health insurance.

My questions are:

Why wouldn’t we want to drive quality and control costs with a more efficient plan?

Why would we want to stand the risk of getting dropped by our insurance company when we are sick and need it the most?

Why wouldn’t we want to get rid of pre-existing conditions?

What convinces me the most that we need a change is that 70 percent of the people that support the bill today are doctors, nurses and hospitals. Clearly, they are the ones who have the knowledge of how badly the system needs to change. It seems to me that we should pay attention to the experts.

On my way back to the car I decided that I can no longer be an innocent bystander. If this plan does not get passed than I will be guilty of letting my ignorance preclude me from helping to make our country a better place to live in.

I am very interested to hear your thoughts about Health Care Reform. Please weigh-in, whether you are for or against the plan.

Guest blogger Jillian Livingston is a mother who never leaves home without her tool belt loaded with a Flip camera, a first aid kit, a digital recorder, a stills camera, a little pink “I Have Issues” notebook with ten pens attached and of course, an iPhone. She has a Blog titled, Is Dis Normal or Dysfunctional, that documents the spirituality and humor behind a mother raising three boys with her mountain man of a husband outside Aspen, Colorado.

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  • comment avatar Mama Bird September 24, 2009

    First I want to say thank you to Jillian and MHM for addressing this issue. But, I think the question: “ARE YOU FOR OR AGAINST” health care reform is unfortunately phrased. I don’t know ANYONE who is against health care reform. Who doesn’t want better, more affordable care made available to all?

    The idea that anyone who is against the President’s plan for reform is therefore against reform altogether and would rather keep the status quo, see people go without care or go broke from medical bills is offensive. Jillian did not specifically say this, but that is often what is implied in this argument elsewhere.

    I could equally ask why is the President opposing health care reform? The Republicans have proposed over 30 health care reform bills that he has refused to hear: Why is the President against ideas such as removing state borders to make insurance companies compete nation-wide? And against capping medical malpractice damages (Tort reform)? Other provisions included in one or more of the bills are: investing in preventive medicine, an overhaul of Medicaid, reduction of abuse and fraud in the Medicare program, supplemental health insurance for low-income families, tax credits for health insurance, and a ban on federal funds being used for abortions.

    The conservative approach to health care reform is a systematic one. Let’s fix the things we know are broken, not throw the baby out with the bathwater and start over with an unknown quantity that is untested, unfunded and unproven anywhere to be better than the system we have.

    I’m not comfortable with being asked to cross my fingers and wish on a star that the government that gave us No Child Left Behind, USPS, the DMV and has bankrupted Social Security is somehow going do this right. Seriously? Do we not have enough history to show us what happens when we allow government to “solve our problems”? Please think hard on this before permitting bureaucrats who aren’t in the medical field to have one hand in your pocket and the other on the plug.

  • comment avatar Amber Johnson September 24, 2009

    Well put! I think there are so many variables that will go into overhauling the current system.

    I’m from Canada and grew up with socialized medicine. There were both advantages and disadvantages to it but overall, the good outweighed the bad. We were never denied care. We never worried about financial ruin when my mom was diagnosed with a long-term disease (she’s had it for over 20 years).

    Since moving to the U.S., I’ve always had great insurance through employers. But my husband and I realized just how screwed up the system is when he lost his job and then started his own business. He has had a number of health problems over the years and we could not get anyone to insure us. We finally got on an extended COBRA program but that is almost equal to our mortgage. Ridiculous.

    Reform is needed. The road to “how” is a complicated one.

  • comment avatar JoAnn September 24, 2009

    I think reform is definitely needed. I think the President’s Plan sounds like a great place to start.

    I thought the information at this link was helpful in understanding what exactly is in the plan (it’s straight from The White House):

    The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. It’s time for different results, so it’s time to do something different.

    I’m not afraid of change when it comes to this. The system is broken. We all suffer when any of us suffer.

    What’s the best way? I am not a doctor, and I’m not a lawmaker. I would hope the “experts” on both sides can find a compromise that works for all of us.

  • comment avatar Randy L. September 24, 2009

    I have nothing against changing healthcare.
    I do have a problem with footing the bill, or helping to foot the bill, of people who smoke, drink, do drugs, don’t exercise or live other unhealthy lifestyles.
    I, also, have a problem with footing the bill, or helping to foot the bill, of people who live beyond their means. Living in a house with high mortage payments when a smaller house would do, owning a new car when a used one will do, cell plans, internet plans, cable TV and on and on. There must be some restraint on people who claim they can’t afford insurance, yet, blow wads of money on luxery items.
    What’s wrong with opening the states to ALL nsurance companies, limiting the price a company can charge for medical equipment, opening up drug patents sooner, raising taxes on cigarettes and alchohol, making illegal aliens go home and quit eating up our hospital funding and on and on.
    The idea of the government in my healthcare is scary. Remember the governments experiments on people’s health throughout the past century??? You really think you can trust these people??

  • comment avatar baluns September 24, 2009

    It’s not healthcare reform it is health insurance payment reform, and it has been underway for some time, a couple of minutes with Google will show you that:
    – government regulation lead to health insurance being linked to employment which was supposed to make it better
    – government regulation created the HMO which was supposed to make it better
    – government regulation created the PPO which was supposed to make it better

    I notice it is still not better, why should be believe them that giving them total and complete and utter control over yours and my health expenses going to make it better.

    They’ve been trying to reform healthcare for 70 years, it might be time to try something different rather then more of the same old, same old.

  • comment avatar Gioia Cardelli September 24, 2009

    I agree that we need health care reform. That we are the only developed nation in the world whose citizens routinely declare bankruptcy because they are under insured or uninsured is shameful.

    I keep hearing people say we have the best healthcare in the world. Where they get this idea is beyond me. We are 37th in the world infant mortality, our life expectancy is below most of the developed nations and we spend nearly double per capita on health care. What’s so all-fired terrific about that?

  • comment avatar Jenna Hallock September 25, 2009

    Great topic for discussion. I will admit my own ignorance as well. I wish this were as simple as “let’s get affordable health care for all,” but I know there is so much more to it.

    There were some great points made in the responses above – there are many facets to creating a new plan. A new plan is absolutely necessary, but how do we go about it? That’s a question I wish I knew the answer to.