So I Was Talking With The White House…

The White House came to BlogHer. They are not fooling around about wanting to hear from the people on health care.

vj

I know you are probably already shaking your head at me.

They aren’t really going to care what I have to say.

They don’t really take our ideas and do anything with them...

The best example of just how serious this administration is about hearing from you that I can give- When Loralee from Loralee’s Loony Tunes told her health care nightmare of a story to Senior White House advisor Valerie Jarrett (and we all sobbed) she also explained that her husband is a conservative and afraid of “socialism.”

Loralee continued to share and continued to tell Ms. Jarrett that her family, her own husband, isn’t buying the White House rhetoric.

Valerie Jarrett and Loralee’s uber conservative husband have a call scheduled for Monday.

Yes, the President’s senior advisor wants to talk to him. Personally. She wants to talk to EVERYONE who thinks like him, to SET THE RECORD STRAIGHT.

Which brings me to YOU. The White House isn’t kidding. They aren’t paying lip service. TELL THEM WHAT YOU THINK about their health care reform plan and if you DO NOT LIKE IT give them your ideas.

I’m sending your feedback directly to White House staff. Leave me a comment. Email me (erin.kotecki.vest@blogher.com) and make sure your story and your voice and your ideas are heard.

*photo curtosey of Rick at Tiny Prints

Comments

  1. ANYTHING is better than what we have now. Our family has no insurance – has had none for years. We continually get turned down because of pre-existing conditions, even if we agree to pay an exorbitant amount each month.

    I’d like the health plan to accept anyone, regardless of pre-existing conditions. In the New Yorker a month or so ago, there was an article about the extreme high costs of health care in one city in Texas. It turned out that there was a vicious cycle of doctors ordering expensive tests, and patients not doing basic preventive care. If we could move away from expensive tests when they are not necessary, and also focus on preventive care, I think it would save a great deal of money.

    Thanks for listening!

  2. we can save costs with a public option by fully adopting tele-health and tele-medicine. i’ve been researching it for 2 years, and its a no-brainer. soc. media types can lead with this push b/c we share so much of our lives online. there are too many paper-pushers and professional negotiators involved in health care. more nurses and primary care physicians are the key, and solving liability costs would help. i don’t know how else we cut costs but by using Internet technology. first order of business: restore trust in govt so that we will manage our health online.

  3. I want to be able to choose my own physicians. Our insurance recently switched and all my normal doctors are no longer preferred providers. They know my history, my personality, what I’ve been through etc. I don’t like going to someone who doesn’t care about me – I want to be able to choose! Every patient should have the right to choose their own doctor and not have to pay extra for it. Good healthcare starts with trust between patient and doctor. But we shouldn’t be penalized for going where we want.

  4. We are a fairly typical middle class family, whatever that means. We have health insuranee, thank god, but we have it by a thread. I have coverage through a grant funded job and every year we sweat the grant not being funded – which almost happened this year because of the dire situation with the NJ state budget. And every year they try to take my benefits away because I am a regular part-time employee as opposed to a full time employee. I know, I’m lucky to have coverage at all, but if they took it away they’d effectively halve my compensation which is just wrong. I would quit. Every year my union fights it and wins.

    We can’t afford to live as we are now because my husband is unemployed. If I lost my job and we lost our coverage, we would have to go without any coverage except for our two babies, which we could get covered under NJCARES because our income is so low now. COBRA would cost us $1200 a month. $1200 a month! That’s almost my mortgage payment.

    The thing that gets me about our situation is not that it is acute, dire, or drastic. It’s that it’s TYPICAL in this country. How many of us hold our breaths, praying we don’t lose our job, our benefits, or get sick for fear of the financial ruin that would ensue.

    In America? Are you serious?

  5. I pretty much agree with what everyone ahs said here already. the first commenter and I are in the same boat. i can agree to pay ridiculous amounts each month and I am still turned down, because I have had migraines. FREAKIN MIGRAINES. duh, doesn’t everyone get those?

    It is scary. and I truly think this is the only step to making sure every human, whether man, woman or child is covered in this country.

  6. I kept thinking of Loralee as I have recovered from my own birth…with NO bills to follow me and my new baby home.
    The joys of Canada.
    I have no expenses and have seen specialists, had a midwife, delivered by c-section at one of the best hospitals in Canada, had a private room, meds, home visits……all covered by my national health contributions.

    I don’t expect the US to be able to copy places like Canada..what would all the big ins co’s do?

    But anything would be better than the way it is right?

  7. Health care has already changed dramatically from the “good old days” when your family doctor actually knew your name. We are not going back so just get over it. Our plan is an HMO & I chose my provider online based on her photo & bio. She’s fine. Then I realized that she is ALWAYS in the office. That means she doesn’t make hospital rounds – that’s not the way it’s done any more. So just when you are the sickest you will be treated by a doctor who you have never met before. My point is, clinging to the notion that you “choose” your doctor is just an excuse not to move forward and get with some kind of program that is realistic and universal. And I don’t care if it is “socialized medicine”. We have to do something and if that’s what it takes, let’s do it.
    There are some services that are too important not to be regulated. This is most definitely one of them. See Bill Maher’s article “Not Everything Has to Make a Profit” on HuffPo.

  8. I hope to see some real changes with this administration. I find it so sad that someone works so hard during their lifetime to acquire some financial stability for themselves and for their children when they leave this world, to have it all taken away when they are elderly. My g-aunt, age 94, worked hard all her life, saved her money so that she may be enjoy herself later in life and to be able to leave some money to her family so they will be financially better off than what she was in her younger years, to watch it all go away because in order to get some, not all, services provided through Medicaid (she only brings in an income of 900 a month) her total savings must be down to near zero. So all the money she has put aside for her family members will disappear and what she has worked so hard for in life will go back to the government as Medicaid wants the money and her condo. For me it is so sad to watch her everyday dealing with this dilemma because she so wants to give to family members but it is getting to the point where she will not have that choice and she is so broken-hearted over it.
    What is it that she needs, something very minor – it is called respite care through Medicaid, where someone will come in 5 days a week for 3 hours a day to help her care for her personal needs – shower/bath. Something that minor requires her to get rid of all assets to she can qualify for that small service.

  9. I’m extremely impressed by this administration’s clear intelligence and evident sincerity.

  10. Here are my main concerns with government run health care:
    1. We may have to wait forever for procedures to be done – like in Canada and other places. I have a friend who lives in Canada and when his back went out he was told to wait for 6 weeks – while he was in pain and unable to move – to have the operation he needed! We don’t need that here in the US.
    2. Physicians work for YEARS to get their degree. This also puts most of them into six figure debt. If the pay for physicians doesn’t stay at the level its at it could cause some issues. Why would anyone want to go through 4 years of college, 4 years of medical school, residency and fellowship in order to make the same that they could have made with a single 4 year degree and less debt? We might have a shortage of physicians which would be a problem for everyone. Solutions here might be less training for physicians – is anyone comfortable with that? Or somehow medical school would have to cost less and physicians should get paid more in residency and fellowship. But is that realistic? Where would the extra money come from? Higher taxes?
    3. If the govenment health insurance costs companies less than private health insurance then eventually all companies will go to it and we will end up with socialized medicine. What will happen to everyone who works for the huge insurance companies? We will lose a good majority of those jobs – further putting the economy down.
    4. Forcing small businesses to get their employees health insurance may drive many of them out of business. What does that accomplish? Now instead of having a job but no health insurance, they now don’t have a job or health insurance. Sounds worse to me.
    The government needs to review these concerns and figure out how to avoid these issues before they launch a new system. I am not saying that the current system is perfect but care needs to be taken before changes are implemented hastily.

  11. I voted for President Obama. I am hopeful that he WILL provide those of us with “pre-existing conditions” an affordable way to obtain health coverage. Yes he will. His mother was discriminated against due to her own medical conditions – he would be one to understand even if no one else does.

    I am a cancer survivor. I am currently living in a health care nightmare and have been for almost 2 years. I have no health coverage. I am a married 32 years old small business owner with 2 children under 6 years old living in the midwest.

    I had cancer 9 years ago. I was a freshly graduated and a newlywed 24 years old at the time of diagnose. There are no family cancer histories in my family, but what I had was “the best kind of cancer to have” if there ever was such a thing – Hodgkin’s disease – right up there at the top with testicular cancer. I was working for a company with group plans and thank goodness insurance paid for all treatment-related costs. We had 2 healthy kids a few years after that. I was laid off when I was pregnant with our youngest (I didn’t bother looking for a job, I presumed no one would hire a visibly pregnant woman. I stayed home a couple of years). Fortunately my husband was in a group plan with the employer he worked for at the time, so medical care was not a huge issue.

    Fast forward to December 2007 when husband got laid off. We were all out of health care. We all got on COBRA and paid all 18-months of it (because we decided to be self-employed), exhausting it and a lot of our savings as well. After our family COBRA plan exhausted, my husband and kids private health insurance – they are all healthy and low risk so no problems – any insurance companies gladly took them. We pay for it ourselves, it’s pretty reasonable monthly premiums with not so reasonable 80/20 and $2500 deductible.

    The kids and husband have medical coverage. I, on the other hand, have been denied insurance at every company except HIP. “Fortunately” the state that we are living in has HIP. And as you may know, HIP is for those of us un-insurable anywhere else. We’re blacklisted as “high risk” and “high liability” and untouachables.

    Never mind the fact that the cancer I had is coined the “best cancer to have” medically, never mind that I have been in remission for almost 8 years, never mind that I have been healthy all these 7+ years, and never mind that I incurred less than $1000 of medical costs while I was on COBRA for the entire 18 months duration.

    These are things all the insurance companies tells me: NO CAN DO. You had cancer? You mentioned “cancer?” Tough luck. No insurance for you. Take a walk, have a nice day.

    HIP wants $700/month with $2500 deductible and 80/20. Just for MYSELF.

    I can’t breath.

    I can’t afford that. I don’t have HIP. I don’t have health coverage.

    After my chemotherapy and radiation therapy ended 8 years ago, all of my oncologists advised that I start having mammograms after I turn 30, because the bulk of radiation was delivered to my chest and neck area. I will be turning 33 very soon and I have not had a mammogram. I do feel fine though. However, I was also “fine” for my whole life except the 5 months leading up to my cancer diagnose.

    I am willing to pay for the mammogram out of pocket – what I AM afraid of and the very reason why I’m not getting the mammogram yet is, what if the results show something bad? How will I pay for the treatments? For I am without health insurance, and if it does come back with bad results, I would have yet one MORE “pre-existing condition”…

    Even if I start paying for HIP now, which I can’t afford, I will not be covered for anything significant for at least a year.

    So, no mammograms for me.

    It’s infuriating knowing that the US, one of the wealthiest in the world, is the only developed, civilized country where affordable health care is not easily accessible. Even friends in Thailand have that luxury.

    A lot of people in the US depend on their jobs to have health coverage, a lot of people are without health coverage because they have lost that job, and a lot of people who do still have jobs are afraid to start businesses not because they don’t have great ideas or grand dreams but because they will be without healthcare.

    It was very discouraging when my husband was laid off 2 weeks prior to Christmas, and it propelled us to start our own business sooner than planned. We are not rich by any means – we’re 2nd generation immigrants with not much of anything materially – the money that we are using for our business is from selling our house and moving to a lower cost city. What we do have are big dreams, the entrepreneurship spirit, a lot of commitment and hardwork. It’s not uncommon for us to work 7 days a week and 15 hour days.

    As a result of my cancer history, the current health care system (or lack thereof!) is not making entrepreneurship and owning a small business easy at all. And it makes me feel guilty and selfish for giving a portion of our sales to children charities but not able to / wanting to afford $700/month for peace of mind for my husband and our own 2 small children.

  12. jacksmith says:

    LEAD, FOLLOW, OR GET OUT OF THE WAY. (Thomas Paine)

    We have the 37th worst quality of healthcare in the developed world. Conservative estimates are that over 120,000 of you dies each year in America from treatable illness that people in other developed countries don’t die from. Rich, middle class, and poor a like. Insured and uninsured. Men, women, children, and babies. This is what being 37th in quality of healthcare means.

    I know that many of you are angry and frustrated that REPUBLICANS! In congress are dragging their feet and trying to block TRUE healthcare reform. What republicans want is just a taxpayer bailout of the DISGRACEFUL GREED DRIVEN PRIVATE FOR PROFIT health insurance industry, and the DISGRACEFUL GREED DRIVEN PRIVATE FOR PROFIT healthcare industry. An insurance bailout is all you really get without a robust government-run public option available on day one.

    These industries have been slaughtering you and your loved ones like cattle for decades for profit. Including members of congress and their families. These REPUBLICANS are FOOLS!

    Republicans and their traitorous allies have been trying to make it look like it’s President Obama’s fault for the delays, and foot dragging. But I think you all know better than that. President Obama inherited one of the worst government catastrophes in American history from these REPUBLICANS! And President Obama has done a brilliant job of turning things around, and working his heart out for all of us.

    But Republicans think you are just a bunch of stupid, idiot, cash cows with short memories. Just like they did under the Bush administration when they helped Bush and Cheney rape America and the rest of the World.

    But you don’t have to put up with that. And this is what you can do. The Republicans below will be up for reelection on November 2, 2010. Just a little over 13 months from now. And many of you will be able to vote early. So pick some names and tell their voters that their representatives (by name) are obstructing TRUE healthcare reform. And are sellouts to the insurance and medical lobbyist.

    Ask them to contact their representatives and tell them that they are going to work to throw them out of office on November 2, 2010, if not before by impeachment, or recall elections. Doing this will give you something more to do to make things better in America. And it will help you feel better too.

    There are many resources on the internet that can help you find people to call and contact. For example, many social networking sites can be searched by state, city, or University. Be inventive and creative. I can think of many ways to do this. But be nice. These are your neighbors. And most will want to help.

    I know there are a few democrats that have been trying to obstruct TRUE healthcare reform too. But the main problem is the Bush Republicans. Removing them is the best thing tactically to do. On the other hand. If you can easily replace a democrat obstructionist with a supportive democrat, DO IT!

    You have been AMAZING!!! my people. Don’t loose heart. You knew it wasn’t going to be easy saving the World. :-)

    God Bless You

    jacksmith — Working Class

    Republican Senators up for re-election in 2010.

    * Richard Shelby of Alabama
    * Lisa Murkowski of Alaska
    * John McCain of Arizona
    * Mel Martinez of Florida
    * Johnny Isakson of Georgia
    * Mike Crapo of Idaho
    * Chuck Grassley of Iowa
    * Sam Brownback of Kansas
    * Jim Bunning of Kentucky
    * David Vitter of Louisiana
    * Kit Bond of Missouri
    * Judd Gregg of New Hampshire
    * Richard Burr of North Carolina
    * George Voinovich of Ohio
    * Tom Coburn of Oklahoma
    * Jim DeMint of South Carolina
    * John Thune of South Dakota
    * Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas
    * Bob Bennett of Utah

  13. I am SO SO SOOOO happy to hear that Loralee’s voice was heard. She and I were pregnant at the same time and I just about cried my face off when I heard about her situation. Thank God she was able to share her story with someone who might be able to help.

    I’m ecstatic that the Valerie and others from the White House are out collecting this info – but what I’m really curious about is what changes are being made and when we can see some differences and the effects.

  14. Anna..waits in Canada tend to be based on where you live and how crucial by hosp definitions the surgery is. Knees and hips and backs do tend to have longer waits…but I know of nobody – myself included – who have ever had to wait for crucial tests, surgeries etc.

    We are not Cuba or Russia. Our healthcare is not perfect and has issues, but the standard of care probably surpasses US care especially for those with subpar insurance..we all get good treatment if it available.

  15. I have questions. Many, many questions. Questions about who is paying for this health care bill, the middle class? About this rumor I’m hearing that health care benefits will need to be claimed as benefits on our taxes, raising our income and the amount of tax we pay. I’d like to know about this sugar tax my father believes is going to be enforced (he is an old school conservative Republican, one who does not trust the Obama Administration one single bit).

    What I wouldn’t give to speak to Ms. Jarrett myself. Jealous of Loralee’s husband right now.

  16. Simply Does It says:

    I too have questions, but any attempt to make the current system better is an improvement compared to now, especially for the millions and millions of UNINSURED Americans who are DYING because they can’t afford any health coverage, or because they are denied due to pre-existing condition(s).

    They are dying. They would gladly wait for non-critical medical issues. At least they will have a turn.

    Firemen, policemen, librarians etc are publicly funded jobs. Why can’t doctors – who are also in the business of keeping our physical and mental well beings in check – also be funded publicly? Did you know, most doctors have to follow the rules of the insurance companies? They are told to (or not to) prescribe certain medications depending on the type of insurance one has?! Insurance companies are ultimately in charge of your health – not doctors. That, is a very scary thought.

    Ah, there is the core of the problem. Insurance companies are in the business of making a PROFIT. I don’t know about you, but I do not wish to have ANYONE profiting from the health / lack of health of my countrymen, women and children.

    Dana, it’s funny that your father “does not trust the Obama Admin one single bit.” Did he trust Bush Admin to the dot and back? Does he still believe that they did good things? I think it is important to dig deep and see WHY he does not trust the Obama Admin. Is it because he’s black? Is it because his middle name is Hussein? I truly hope that is not the case. Don’t get all upset, as I am sincerely and genuinely asking these questions.

  17. Jonathan (Mr. Looney Tunes) says:

    I am Loralee’s husband who was apparently a large topic of conversation during the luncheon you attended with Ms. Jarrett. I appreciate the opportunity that you have given both my wife and myself to voice our opinions (as different as they may be) on the topic of health care reform.

    I have much more to say about the subject than is appropriate for a comment on a blog post, so Loralee has invited me to write a guest post on her blog about my point of view and my discussion with Ms. Jarrett. And since I am a greedy capitalist I want her to make the money from the hits :)

    Although I am not totally thrilled that she keeps describing me as being 2 steps from moving to Idaho and forming my own militia, thank you again for thinking of us and letting my wife express her views

    -Jonathan AKA Mr. Lonney Tunes

  18. You are welcome Jonathan. And I truly hope Monday’s discussion helps each side find some common ground.

  19. I also have a very conservative husband who fears socialism, yet he has been opening to listening. I lean conservative. I just think the government is too big to govern in this way well. I have complete empathy for those who do not have quality health care, mostly because I do have good health care. It is expensive. We are able to afford it. I don’t like feeling I have to apologize for the hard work my husband and I have done to get to this place. Both of us came from middle or lower/middle class backgrounds, and we HAVE WORKED HARD. I am more of a middle roader politically speaking, but it does seem that the larger government becomes, the more corrupt it becomes, and the less ability we have as individuals to control our own lives. I fear that the quality of health care will decline. I fear that should not just my family, but any family, face a serious illness, they will be told they have to wait for months to receive treatment. What about all the people who come to our country from Canada because they were told they had to wait for treatment, etc? I am open. I just want to know.

  20. Thanks, Erin, for putting this together.

    Here’s what I don’t like about national health care:

    – I don’t like how I’ll be forced to have coverage. As an American, it’s my right to not have coverage if I so choose just as much as it’s my right to GET coverage regardless of pre-existing conditions.

    – I don’t like how we expect the rich to bail us out and cover all the poor people. The rich shouldn’t be punished all the time for being rich, just like the poor shouldn’t be punished for being poor.

    – I don’t like how the poor are painted as a group of people who are physically incapable of providing for themselves when many times it just comes down to priorities. People would rather have cable, extensive cell phone plans, cigarettes, liquor, big screen TVs, cars they can’t afford and other amenities than cough up the money to pay for health care. I would know . . . I was one of them. When I was a waitress, I refused an outside coverage plan simply because I wanted to go out to eat more. Buy more clothes. Consequently, I went without coverage for a year and a half. There were many others who worked where I did, doing the same thing.

    – I don’t like this “we’re behind the times” message when other countries are reverting to a model more like our current one.

    – I don’t like government handouts.

    – I don’t like it when the government meddles and tells me what to do and who I can and can’t see for medical help. Heck, I don’t even like it when my provider does that!

    – I don’t like any other government institution (DMVs, Social Security offices, etc) because they’re run poorly, the service is pitiful and waiting times are excruciating. Why and how would national health care be any better?

    When I thought I had breast cancer and didn’t have a personal physician, I was able to find one within two days, schedule an appointment for a couple days later, and have an ultrasound the following week. I paid for this basically out of pocket. I fear that with nationalized heatlh care, I would have had to wait months to see a doctor and get my testing done.

    Thank you,
    Amanda Luedeke

  21. The whole debate makes me scared. I worry that I will not get any occupational therapy for my son and his Sensory Processing Disorder, which I get now, with a $40 co pay per session. I worry that I will have to change all my doctors and I have worked hard to build good teams for me and my children after fights, being called Muchausens for asking questions, being ignored by medical professionals. I worry the government will determine what drugs I need, not my docs, not based off the fact I have severe GERD and not much works to control the acid well. I worry that we will lose choice in care and the quality will go down.
    Our system is broken, but either extreme (all government or all private) is NOT the best solution.

  22. Hey, Erin. I passed on the link to this post in the comments at http://www.mama-is.com/the-public-option-in-health-care/ in hopes that perhaps more will see it and send you some feedback.

    I always feel like I don’t do enough in these situations… I’d write my reps, senators, etc but I never know what to say. Hopefully at least spreading the word will do. :) Thanks so much for being an advocate for people like me, who never know just what to say.

  23. Preventative care needs to be stressed and PROVIDED FOR. Alternative treatments need to be covered, especially when proven effective. (Homebirth is one example) These CHEAPER health-care options will help everyone in the long run, preventing unnecessary treatments and ER visits.

    Every American needs to be able to afford healthcare – with a sliding scale Medicaid option available to EVERYONE. But don’t nationalize everything – we don’t want lines for doctors like in England.

  24. Lines? what lines? I have uk family and while the nhs isn’t what it used to be and I think the care in Canada is actually better than the UK these days..again..we (national health countries) aren’t communist Russia…..the myths and fear mongering has to end for you guys.

    I also cannot see how it would ever happen. Would not perhaps all your big Ins co’s run the show…they are there anyway….or instead run extended health like we do.

    We can opt in to ‘extras’..that cost more…and pick and choose….could not there be a standard coverage for all….like we pay for through taxes and a min monthly fee and then the ins co’s do the extra stuff..would that not keep everyone happy?

  25. Erin,

    Despite the fact that I keep coming to read what other people have to say here and squeeing loudly when first reading this, I realized that I did not actually leave a comment here!

    I cannot tell you how much this encounter has changed things for me.
    I cannot thank you enough for giving me (us) the opportunity.

    I also wanted to add that I relate SO MUCH to your post above about family being “hard”. The subject of health care is just one example. We argued from the time I got off the plane until the phone call with Ms. Jarret was completed.

    I’m sure when our posts are being written we’ll keep going!

    Anyway, I will let you know when they are up. I absolutely loved meeting you and your husband.

  26. I keep sticking my nose in..but I am fascinated about How the US will tackle the healthcare issues…

    this is a great overview of the Cdn system..

    http://www.strocel.com/canadian-health-care/comment-page-1/#comment-41137

  27. Erin,
    Can you please forward? *This* is what I’d like to say to Valerie Jarrett:

    How can people be so afraid of a far-off abstraction (the “single payer” or the “socialism” bogeyman) when their own experience with health insurance companies–and lack of coverage–is so much more immediate, negative, and concrete? (This was Loralee’s deeply felt situation, it seems.)

    Insurance companies are asking you to take them on faith. To stop listening to your own experiences with them. And to *back them* in this fight, instead of standing up for your own interests.

    Maybe we need to hear stories of real people telling how insurance companies stood between them and the health care they needed.

    Maybe we need to hear from seniors who rely on Medicare.

    And maybe we need to see and hear how a public option affects insurance companies versus how it affects the patient’s experience.

    Because if you or someone you care for is sick, the last thing you want to worry about is battling a well-funded, impassive, profit-seeking, faceless company while trying to get healthier.

    Get people to listen to their own experiences and to trust it. Too bad there’s no WPA all around the country to document this. A multitude of moving, well-shot 2 minute vids up on Youtube could do wonders.

    –>How about going to some of those health fairs held around the nation for the uninsured and start filming? Talk to people who don’t have insurance and maybe never had it. And have President Obama go too. The otherwise lazy news cameras and correspondingly-out-of- touch journalists will HAVE to follow him.

    The health fairs are happening all around the country. Here’s news about a recent one for starters: http://www.azstarnet.com/sn/related/286458

    Seeing a video of a health fair for the uninsured changed insurance industry executive Wendell Potter’s mind about his industry trying to block a public option: http://bit.ly/22ocxo

    Maybe it could change voters’ minds too.

  28. Sue Himel says:

    Hi Erin, I’m lawyermama’s mama. She told me about your website and suggested I check it out. I have some questions which legislators and the president have only been able to answer in the most vague generalities. I could not support reform without knowing how it will affect our lives and need specific answers. I think more people will support reform if they know how it will affect their situation specifically.

    With baby boomers retiring in large numbers over the next decade, how can cuts be made to the medicare program? We are told that is one of the ways the new plan will be funded. I’ve heard they’ll be more efficient. That is not enough of an explanation for me.

    We’ve been told that no one will be forced into a public option plan. But, when small businesses, which employ nearly half the people in this country, decide that the public option is more affordable than their private plans and decide to let their employees fend for themselves and pay the penalty, what will those workers do? Private insurance outside of a group plan is prohibitively expensive. Those employees will have no choice but the public option. So, I am not buying the statement we hear in sound bites on TV commercials or from talking heads on news shows. Can the administration explain how no one will be forced into a public option with a few more details?

    If a public plan, subsidized by our tax dollars, is in place how is a private insurance company supposed to compete with that plan? Insurance companies are not nonprofits. They have stockholders and they need to make a profit. A public plan not only doesn’t have to make a profit, it will be subsidized. If the insurance companies fold, we’ll have no choice but to have the federal government insure everyone. Yet, the politicians say that a public plan will force competition and lower insurance costs in the private sector. I’m afraid that doesn’t add up for me. I want to know why the administration thinks that a subsidized plan won’t put private insurance companies out of business. And, of course, I want a lot of details.

    There are barely enough medical personnel now to take care of those that are insured. How will the system absorb 47 million more patients without creating long waiting lists to see a doctor? It takes 10-15 years to educate a doctor, 4 years for a nurse. But health care benefits would be available long before there is any possibility of convincing enough additional people to train for the medical professions.

    The cost of this ambitious legislation has been calculated at somewhere between .6T and 1.6T over the next decade. Calculations of the costs of medicare, medicaid and prescription drug coverage have all been grossly underestimated in the past by the same people doing the cost projections for a new health care plan. Why should we believe that the price tag for health care reform will be anywhere near the projections?

    Seems all the Dems in Congress want an expensive program but, so far, the methods that have been suggested to pay for it are grossly inadequate. How will they pay for it?

    I’d really appreciate these questions being passed along. Until someone in the White House tells me some specifics I can’t support any bill. And that’s another thing…what will this bill look like when it is ready for a vote? I certainly can’t support a bill without knowing what is in it even though our legislators seem to be able to do so.

    Thanks.

  29. Let’s stop with half measures and cobbled-together solutions. The smartest way to go is single-payer – there are proven track records that show it works.

    I say this as a municipal employee with fine health insurance, but it’s obvious to me that there are others who have it much worse off than I do.

    The whole idea that health insurance should be linked to your job is ridiculous. The ability to receive health care and medical treatment should be a right available to all citizens equally – single payer is the way to go.

    Sure, we’re going to have a bill that’s a compromise, but for pity’s sake, puhlease keep the Public Option in it.

  30. Will members of Congress and the Executive Branch also be under the rules of this healthcare? I’ve heard that it’s written in the bill that they will be exempt from it.

  31. Hey Erin,

    Though Im so skeptical that anyone is actually listening out there (though I am very hopeful about the Obama administration, because I believe his heart is in the right place), I’d like ot pass this article on to you, to pass on to “them”. This is the issue that means most to me, and from the statistics in the article, could really matter in terms of the fiscal solvency of the whole deal.

    http://rhrealitycheck.org/blog/2009/07/29/wheres-the-birth-plan

    In the end, it really is all about choice.

    Cheers!

  32. This happens to be a topic of conversation between me and my brother, a NYC public school teacher (with excellent health care insurance). He is also a strong conservative. I thought I’d just print my latest response to his fears about health care reform, which I think mirror the fears of a lot of people:

    I think we have an incredible opportunity to reshape health care in this country. The time is ripe.

    What I’m afraid may happen is that all the usual suspects will waylay us. There’s ample misrepresentation of health care on both sides. The lobbyists with a vested interest in preventing changes that will affect their business models are out in full force.

    Our Congress, which is woefully susceptible to campaign contributions – the largest of which come from said lobbying powerhouses – can’t be relied upon to make decisions that are in the best interest of US citizens.

    Here are a few things for you to listen to and ponder while you have some time on your hands this summer:

    * This interview on NPR last Monday – What’s Canadian Health Care Really Like? (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=111084018) It’s an honest look at both what works well and what could be improved. Comments from listeners are also interesting.

    * If you don’t want to take the time to listen to 30 minutes of NPR, at least read Mythbusting Canadian Health Care (Part 1 and Part 2). [http://www.ourfuture.org/node/21313 and http://www.ourfuture.org/blog-entry/mythbusting-canadian-healthcare-part-ii-debunking-free-marketeers Her biases get a bit prominent towards the end of Part 2, but there’s a lot of good information in there, in any case. Since dumping on the Canadian system – or extolling its virtues without acknowledging its shortcomings – is a time-honored tradition in this country, it helps to put it into perspective, and consider some of the things about our own system that we often choose not to see.

    * Don’t take at face value any partisan resource on the health care debate.Politifact.com is a non-partisan website that fact-checks public statements (and they are an equal opportunity fact-checker). Of particular interest is the article analyzing an email making the rounds purporting to be an analysis of the health bill. That article also includes a side-by-side analysis of current health care plan proposals (http://www.kff.org/healthreform/sidebyside.cfm) by the Kaiser Family Foundation – a non-partisan group that studies health care reform.

    I am actually not strongly ideological when it comes to this topic. I’m for a plan that works well enough – going for the 80/20. I recognize that even though single payer systems work well for other countries, like Canada, the chance of enacting that system here is slim because of strong opposition.

    So what’s a compromise that will work, understanding that it won’t completely satisfy either those most opposed to single payer or those opposed to anything but? How can we make sure whatever this system is, it’s one that serves the people – and not Big Pharma, private insurance companies and bloated medical bureaucracies? How can we ensure there’s a strong financial incentive to not only cut costs but cut runaway cost growth? Can we eliminate the “fee for service” system that medical professionals agree is responsible for much of the costs and inefficiencies?

    Back to me: my biggest concern for you to relay to the White House, Erin, is the special interests circling the House and Senate who don’t necessarily have the interests of US citizens at the top of their agenda. I’m not even saying that everything they advocate for is wrong or evil — I just think that there needs to be an easier way for everyday citizens to voice their concerns in a way that will get equal attention. I don’t trust our elected representatives to do that for us.

  33. Health care reform is a huge issue in our house.

    My oldest son has a genetic cancer syndrome. He’s had two brain surgeries already to remove tumors, and he is approaching the need for another. As it stands, he has eight more tumors that will, possibly, need to be removed in the future. He is beginning to show growths on his kidneys also. The tumors will also require surgical removal at some point, as there is no cure and no medication to help this disease.

    My oldest son is also 20, soon to start his junior year in college. In two years (or so) he will not be eligible for our family health plan.

    My son has lost so many things to this disease. He lost his childhood innocence. He lost the gift of growing old. He lost the freedom from fear. He has lost so much that we can never fix.

    He shouldn’t have to lose health care. We can fix that!

  34. Not to bug you…but I forgot to add that we’ve tried to buy the private plans that are offered for college students, as a safe-guard for Steven in these tough economic times.

    If you have a diagnosis such as Steven’s, it is impossible to buy health insurance. Impossible. We were, obviously turned down for the student plan that was being sold to all students, but we also asked for quotes for Steven, given his situation. Turned down flat.

    I’m not worried about the government telling him when or where he can see a doctor. I’m not concerned that his rights as an individual will be stepped on. I’m not concerned that he will have a co-payment or not. I’m not worried that the government could “spy” on his private papers. I’m not worried that he’ll have to give up a choice of a private plan, once he’s employed, for a less sparkly government-run health plan.

    I’m concerned that my son will be without insurance, and that will lead to missed scans, inability to secure a surgery, and metastacized cancer.

    If I could ask the government to fix one thing about our healthcare, I would ask that all people with truly devastating, life-threatening illnesses who cannot procure a health-plan on their own should be covered under a universal plan.

    Please!

  35. I would like for everyone that wants the government to run MORE healthcare programs to talk to someone who has to use VA healthcare, or the Native American healthcare or even Medicare/Medicaid. After that, I want you to tell me that our government is capable of running something so important.

  36. I’d love to have more information…correct information…could you send me some? On what’s being proposed…on what it is and what it’s not? Or, rather, could you fwd this on and have them talk to me or send me information? I have so many questions…on this issue and others too!

  37. Cara,

    I absolutely understand the resistance of those who are oppose to having “the government” ‘s hand dip into health care.

    However, for people like myself, or Beverly’s son (the commenter immediately above your comment), and millions upon millions of others, THERE ARE NO HEALTH CARE OPTIONS FOR US, not even medicaid or medicare.

    Why? Because we (1) have pre-existing condition(s), (2) apparently make too much money to qualify or own too much money to qualify (mind you, to quality for medicaid in my state, one’s total networth cannot be more than $2000…… I’m not kidding you) (3) HIP is too costly (4) many MANY states don’t even offer the HIP. In case you aren’t familiar, HIP is the high risk pool for those “uninsurables.”

    First of all, we are saying NO before the administration is given a chance at all. We don’t know.

    Secondly, frankly, even IF it’s not a good program, for the millions of people, it is still better than nothing at all.

  38. Thank you! I don’t think most people who are complaining about a government run healthcare understand what it means to live with a truly life-threatening/mind-boggling/insurance denying illness.

    My husband and I realize that a government run healthcare will not be as nice as the healthcare that we’ve had for the past 20 years. We realize that we might not be able to get an appointment as quickly as we do now. We realize that we might not be able to have tests or procedures as easily as we do now. We realize all of this and more, yet we support a government run healthcare because the system in our country now is such that the person who needs this the most is considered too much of a liability and it denied insurance and thus care.

    Can you imagine if the schools were run by for-profit organizations and children who had the hardest time learning, required the most trained and expensive teachers, needed to be in school the longest, were denied an education because they were considered a liability to the school system?

    That would be unacceptable, and the system for health insurance/health care is alos unacceptable.

  39. Sue Himel says:

    Hi

    After reading this blog I do believe there is a way to develop a health plan that handles most needs. The current “pass it now” philosophy is wrong. It’s a Democratic plan that fulfills an Obama campaign promise.

    STOP and go back to the drawing board.

    1) Develop some “assigned risk” program like we assign risky drivers to car insurance companies in the states….maybe with some subsidy from the feds.

    2) Make junk lawsuits nonprofitable….it can be done.

    3) With health insurance tied to jobs…mandate transfer ability.

    4) Dare I say it? Abortion rights, paid for with our taxes, is a hot issue. I am a firm pro choicer….but sometimes you have to concede an issue to get something done.

    5) Give up covering illegals…there is a big loophole in the House Bill that allows illegals to have government subsidized insurance.

    6) Send this bill back to the Congress. Let the Republicans have input and give the US citizens a real reform of Health Care.

    We can do it…it is hard, but don’t let it be what Congress has as a bill written by lobbyists.

    Sue Himel

  40. All legislation is compromise, but what bothers me about this is WHY is congress being allowed to not participate?

  41. sandra blatt says:

    I empathize with so many of the previous commentors…and agree that in certain situations as explained above additional help is needed. I do believe that government should lend a helping hand to those in need and am more than happy to have our tax dollars support it. I don’t see, however, a massive major overhaul to the healthcare systemWhy would we allow for a worsening of what, for many, already works? Medicare is already on shaky grounds and can’t afford more government intervention or less funding. Social security benefits have already been delayed, even in cases where they are truly needed. Trillions have been spent like pennies dizzyingly fast…why are we rushing to “play now, pay later?” We’re creating horrible chaos for future generations and only then will someone be able to say “Oh, President X is only correcting the mess President Obama left.” Apparently, as per prior comment, it’s unAmerican to disagree with the current administration; scary thought that I might not like his policies even though he is “black”? And, yes, illegal immigrants get “free” healthcare (especially in hospitals) but that would infuriate a large constituency so let’s not address it….Hmm, what happened to the country we love and where are our true ideals???

  42. Heather Kass says:

    nakedJen sent me :) My tales of being underinsured and my life being in a choke hold because of it are legendary. I talk, I yell, I write, I protest…and never has a word been heard.

    Are you still looking for stories?

    I have recently been diagnosed with MS. That, in and of itself, is a long road and the endpoint is sort of like throwing darts. But there it is. I am married, I have 3 boys. My oldest has a brain injury and has been living in a specialized residential school and treatment center for almost a year which is, thankfully, funded by the local public school system who failed him so miserably.

    I live in Massachusetts. The Powers That Be insist I have healthcare coverage, BY LAW. I tried to outright cancel my BCBS membership and was told it is illegal until I prove I am covered elsewhere. NO ONE ELSE will take me. All my applications have been denied based on pre-existing condition. So, Im literally forced, against my will, to keep BCBS. If I choose not to admit I have BCBS when I seek care, I am reported and fined heftily.

    BCBS, in turn, has upped my deductible, stopped paying for hundreds of most prescribed drugs, lowered my fucking cap (yes, really!!), and now lowered their allowable amount for billing.

    Doctors, in turn, have raised their fees across the board.

    So, I am receiving bills for hundreds (and now thousands), on a DAILY BASIS. I am not exaggerating and I swear on my childrens’ lives this is true. I am in debt to my eyeballs and now everything is in collection.

    *My son’s school requires mandatory bloodwork due to the medication he takes. BCBS pays for 80% of the medication but the lab who does the bloodwork charges us $369.70 every 3 months. This is AFTER they have been paid by BCBS. This includes a $50 “travel allowance”.

    Their office is a mile away.

    *My EEG is costing us $577 and change. That’s the test itself. We are also being billed $80-something for it being read, and another $30-something for the report to be transcribed!!

    *Brain MRI? Double the above AND some random neurologist is charging us almost $100 for “interpreting the test”. Really? AFTER we were billed by a radiologist for the VERY SAME SERVICE???

    *BCBS sent a packet on Saturday that neither of us had the energy/heart/courage to open. So I did it this morning. It is a letter explaining their new pharmacy benefits for our plan:

    *4 pages of medications (in 8pt font) that they will not cover, period. It includes ALL acute anxiety drugs that I know of (ativan, xanax, klonopin, etc). It also includes all the seizure drugs I personally know (which Im sure is not a comprehensive list) and at least 2 of which I am supposed to be taking.

    *2 pages of medications they will cover only once proof and documentation has been “reviewed and approved” that other drugs in it’s class were tried and failed. This process will take “15-30 days”.

    *Another list of medications Prior Authorizations are required for, in addition to the ones they already make you jump through rings of fire for.

    *They flat out are not covering any “new medications” until reviewed by the Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee, which “provides expertise and advise to help…..give members drug options that meet their medical needs and achieve desired treatment goals”.

    BCBS has finally announced that it’s committees and CEOs know what we need more than our doctors and will decide what it medically appropriate for us to have in terms of medications. Having never met us. Or seen our file. Or spoken to us.

    I can go on and on. Call ( and if you are lucky enough to actually speak to a human being,) and question them on this (which I do, often) and I am told “that’s our policy”. End of story.

    Id like to know how many suicides occur because people cannot afford to stay alive anymore. Truth is, I cant afford to have MS. I cant afford to go to this neurology appointment in Boston and NO WAY can I afford the spinal tap! I CAN afford to be dead because I have life insurance. Pitiful, yes, but it’s something.

    Im not going to be able to keep my house and feed my kids if I pay these bills. If I DON’T pay them, the doctors, hospitals and labs are entitled, by law, to stop treating us.

    I’m out of ideas. I’ve written to Congress, Senators, Obama, etc. It’s a joke. No one reads the emails because they get hundreds of them everyday. They are not concerned about the state of things because they are not paying medical bills. I once got a standardized letter from Sen. Kennedy, thanking me for my input.

    I woke up this morning so stiff and in so much pain I cried. It took me about 4 minutes to walk down the stairs. My legs are charlie horses…all the way down. My left shoulder will not lower away from my face. My left elbow wont unbend. My face is tingling and numb on the lower left side. My tongue is partially numb. My left eye has not regained it’s vision.

    Ive cried 3 times this morning not in woe but in frustration and pain.

    And there is absolutely nothing I can do about it. I can’t afford to go see anyone, they wont give me anything to help until my spinal tap anyway, and I dont even know when that IS because I have to jump through BCBS Rings Of Fire to get there.

    Im writing because Im angry. Im furious. Im livid. And Im totally at a loss. I understand why people get to the desperate, outrageous places they emotionally get to. I dont always agree with their methods, obviously, but I can absolutely see what drives a person to that point. NO ONE IS LISTENING. You are suffering, the people who are supposed to represent your interests hold ALL the power and they ARE NOT LISTENING. It’s an isolating, desperate feeling.

    I feel like I could go on endlessly, quite frankly. This is only the most recent grievances I have with BCBS and our congress’ total lack of concern about the current situation.

    My life is ruled by my health insurance. And it’s not a pleasant life.

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