The Best Healthcare System? Depends Who You Are

Sep 5, 2010   //   Healthcare

Co-Host Joe Kernen (CNBC’s Squawk Box) had the unfortunate experience of requiring emergency surgery for appendicitis.  Upon his recovery and return to the show, he used his experience as evidence that America has best healthcare system.  He has been a vocal opponent to the Health Reform Legislation, referring to it as ‘Obamacare’ and used his personal experience to support his position.  During this past year I spent many months staying in my wife’s hospital room as she underwent numerous difficult treatments to bring her leukemia into remission.  We both heard about cases in that microcosm of healthcare involving the very real loss of life in this country due to lack of access to essential care.  And with Mary being uninsurable under current health insurance practice, we also lived with the uncertainty as to whether she might be declined a second transplant should treatment succeed in putting her into remission.  The protests in Washington, that were being covered on television, were so hate filled regarding the nature of placards/language/violence (threats to elected officials and their families, bricks being thrown through windows), actions that clearly went beyond any reasonable objection to the legislation, led my wife to turn off the TV as she said she needed to remain positive as she fought for her life.  It was in light of this personal experience I issued the following comment to the show.

August 11, 2010

Yes, Joe was in and out with great care; and the system is pulling a rabbit out of the hat with my wife regarding an opportunity to beat an aggressive leukemia as she reports to transplant today.  But we can afford a great insurance policy, as I’m sure Joe has as well.  However, during my stays in the hospital this year with my wife, staff relayed to us the other side:  the young man whose insurance declined a transplant with the institution requiring a quarter of a million in the account – he tried fundraising but eventually lost his life; the individual who was declining his dinner trays to save on benefits – my wife unable to eat her dinner wanted to donate her tray only to be told ‘he’s no longer with us’.  We heard, within that microcosm of healthcare, the statistics that show 45,000 American citizens each year are dying (more than auto accidents and homicides combined) because of lack of access to essential care.  I saw the look of anguish on the faces of families I got to know who had lost a loved one, and that awful feeling was haunting me as well.  I can not turn my back on the less fortunate of our society and we need solutions.  And with no effort under a Republican controlled presidency and Congress to address the healthcare issue, with the final bill not containing the ‘public option’ or the buy-in to Medicare down to age 55, with it containing the top three Republican priorities (per John Boehner) of an exchange, ability to buy across state lines, and the option for the states to opt out, and with a mandate that was actually proposed in the past by Republicans…to say that we needed to scrap the entire bill and start with a clean piece of paper was disingenuous politics – there is no interest as shown by both action and word to address the plight of the less fortunate in our society.  The bill is imperfect, but at least it is a step forward.

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