Monday, October 19, 2009

Don't Rely on What You Hear/Read

We sent out an email blast today encouraging people to call their members of Congress tomorrow, the national call-in day for health care reform. I got the following response:

I am both suprised [sic] and shocked that someone with such a serious illness and a person running a non for profit would use public funding to promote your own political agenda. I am really dissapointed [sic] and wonder if those who give you funding would approve of what you are doing....personally if I was forced into what you are promoting, my son who has crohns disease may not be alive today as no hospitals "on my plan" in this area would give him the treatment he needed because of insurance. Because I pay for a plan that allow, I am able to go "out of network" to get the best possible care. If you read ANYTHING about health care reform, it is those with cronic [sic] illness that will be the most effected. Did u not hear congressman ERIC Cantors [sic] speech?

First, we don't receive one dime of public funding to fund our day-to-day work. In 2009 and 2010, we will have received a small grant to fund the chronic illness survey we are working on with the University of Michigan Center for Managing Chronic Disease. That's all the public funding we receive.

Second, supporting health care reform isn't about politics in the sense of Democrat or Republican. Indeed, Bill Frist, Mike Bloomberg, Bob Dole and Arnold Schwarzenegger all are prominent Republicans who are publicly in favor of health reform (although they have not endorsed any particular plan). However, Eric Cantor -- the person this emailer wants me to listen to -- is the House Minority Whip, the second-in-command Republican in the House of Representatives. Any question that he's a politician with an agenda? I don't think so.

Third, I have read the health care reform proposals, and this writer clearly has not. Let me say it again -- nobody is being "forced into" a public option. An option is just that, an option, a choice. People would be allowed to choose between a publicly run plan and a private plan. There would be several private plans from which to choose, some of which no doubt will cover out-of-network benefits. There is NOT ONE WORD in the health reform bills I've read that would eliminate out-of-network coverage, as my correspondent suggests.

I emailed her back. I sent links to; the Kaiser Family Foundation's health reform page; the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation health reform page; the White House health reform page.

Do you think she'll read anything I sent her?

It scares me when I see people -- people who've called here for help, so they know something about chronic illness -- opposing health reform because they don't understand it (not to mention assuming that I, who do this for a living, would not have read up on it myself).

So really, my message to you here is just this: Don't believe me OR Eric Cantor. Read, listen, judge for yourself. Read not only the New York Times (i.e., liberal): also read the Wall St. Journal (i.e., conservative).

This may be the most important public policy debate of our generation. Don't have a knee-jerk reaction. Don't label the "fors" Democrats and "againsts" Republicans. Don't assume Eric Cantor is right any more than you assume Nancy Pelosi is right. Don't assume anything. Educate yourself enough that you can make an informed choice.

I'm confident that I've studied this well enough so you can count on what I've told you the various drafts say, but don't assume I'm truthful or accurate. Read. Listen. Hear diverging views. When Betsy McCaughey or Sarah Palin talks about "death panels," check it out. After all, Ms. McCaughey said it appeared on page 425 of the House Bill, so it was easy enough to prove that no such thing appeared on page 425, section 1233 (they posted it without page numbers so you have to scroll down to section 1233, end of life consultations -- which, as you can see, would have reimbursed Medicare providers for talking to patients about things like living wills, but which would NOT have created panels to decide when to "pull the plug"). If you don't have time to read for yourself, then go to the non-partisan cites linked above, and the always-reliable independent

I'm not telling you to just take my word for it. I'm so sure that I've been accurate in my statements in this blog that I welcome your researching and reading. I've told you when I've been unhappy with Senator Baucus's bill. I've told you that I favor a public option and why. But please, don't take my word for it.

This legislation will affect every single person in the United States. If ever you were going to get informed and involved, now's the time. I trust you to make the right decisions once you know the facts. So go get 'em. Jennifer


  1. I also have a son with crohns. College student with school health insurance that has a cap on prescription drug benefits.
    We are praying for reform so that he will not be denied coverage due to his pre-existing illness.
    He didn't choose this disease, it choose him. The least of our worries is whether or not we can go out of network! We just be happy to know he wouldn't be denied insurance coverage.

  2. Anonymous, if you tell me what state your son will be in after school, I can research the options for you. You can email me at Jennifer

  3. College graduates will go where the job offers come from. Difficult to know which state you will end up working in.
    Would be nice to know that no matter what state the job offer comes from, you will not be denied coverage due to a pre-existing illnes.
    Your offer is much appreciated.