All summer long I’ve been turning myself into an expert on health care reform. I always knew more about health care in the USA than most, because I did the public relations for the first HMO in Arizona and then went on to make health care a big segment of my company's client roster. So I’ve been hearing about cost controls, socialized medicine, and denying treatment for twenty-five years. I also ran my husband’s medical office.
Then my friend Karoli got laid off last December, and found out she couldn’t afford her COBRA coverage and had to learn how that system worked. Some of the old NewsGang folks started talking about the power of microcommunities to bring about change. So we started USHealthCrisis.com (thanks Maxine Appleby for donating the domain name) as a place we could impart information about the state of health care amidst a financial meltdown.
Since then, we’ve been tweeting, blogging, and using every form of social media we can get our hands on to make the case for meaningful reform. Not “health insurance reform,” not just a bill that Obama can sign and declare victory, but meaningful reform that will give Americans rights to a certain basic level of primary and preventive care.
Today, with the news out of Washington that the Gang of Six is imploding and the Republicans have decided the only way to win the mid-term elections is to sabotage reform, I find my patience with politics sorely tried.
There are a couple of major issues that should be discussed with regard to reform: how are we going to pay for it and how are we going to provide enough primary care doctors in the short term to provide it. Let’s call those the “patient-facing issues.” Behind those issues lie bigger questions of incentives and outcomes: let’s call those the “political issues.”
The patient-facing issues are the ones you and I content with. Can we (or the government) afford our own health care, and can we even get an appointment with a doctor?
But these have been overwhelmed by the concerns of:
1)Pharmaceutical companies who are afraid they will make less money under a new system in which some of their products will not be paid for