Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Keeping Health Insurance Reform on the Front Burner

Today, for the first time in a year or so, there is not one single item on Huffington Post about health insurance reform. If you read the papers closely and carefully, there are short items saying that leadership hasn't given up and they're trying to come up with a strategy. It's really not that hard, folks. Where there's a will, there's a way.

And so the issue is the lack of a will to get it done. Members of Congress worked VERY hard to get only a few days away from passage. The special election in Massachusetts was read as a sign that the public doesn't want reform. I don't believe that's at all true.

First, Massachusetts already has universal health care. So the fact that they don't feel the need as desperately as the rest of us is predictable and meaningless. Indeed, Scott Brown (the Republican winner) voted FOR universal health care in the State Senate. Doesn't sound like an anti-health insurance reform guy to me -- or at least he wasn't against reform when it counted to his constituents.

Second, while there is no question that Americans are afraid because of the jobs that have disappeared from the economy, plenty of that fear has to do with how the jobless are going to pay for health care. I get enough calls every single day from people without two nickles to rub together to prove that this is true.

Indeed, we are given false choices -- do we want Congress to focus on jobs or health care? Both, Dufus. Indeed, electronic health records creates jobs. Increasing incentives for chronic care management creates jobs. The health care sector has continued to grow even as the rest of the economy has tanked. It's not either/or. It's both and they're linked.

Third, I'd like to find ONE person who doesn't have health insurance and who has a pre-existing condition who doesn't think health care is an absolutely top priority. I don't believe there's a single one. The naysayers inside and outside of Washington are insured and/or healthy. They just don't get it.

But most of all, the lies are just outstanding. A government take-over of health care. That's all the anti-reformers had to say, over and over and over. It didn't matter that it wasn't true. Nothing much mattered as long as enough people recited that phrase. After the public option -- which was just that, an option -- died, there was not even the smallest kernel of truth to this "government take-over of health care" mantra. But apparently, truth isn't what matters most; fear matters even more.

I don't know how we're going to get this to the finish line. But I know that, if we don't, premiums will continue to increase, insurers will continue to deny coverage of medically necessary and appropriate treatment, people will continue to lose their insurance because of pre-existing conditions or their claims history or some bogus claim that they lied on their application -- the status quo will thrive. And we as a society simply can't afford that.

I read an article this morning about how our national debt is weakening our standing in the world. Part of that is that we have done NOTHING to rein in the cost of health care, like the rest of the world has done. Part of our debt is attributable to the outrageous cost of health care and health insurance. We cannot continue to outspend the rest of the world on health care, while not getting better health outcomes, if we are to remain competitive in the world.

I don't know how anybody can really dispute any of this. And really, I don't hear much of an argument. I just hear the word "no." The American people need to rise up and say YES to health insurance reform. Jennifer


  1. If more people had to fight with Unum and get laughed at by them as they exit the hospital, they wouldn't care if they ALL lost thier jobs.

  2. Insurance executives will be just fine even if they lose their jobs. Trust me on that one!