Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Great Health Care Reform Debate

A copy of an email I sent out tonight.

Dear friends and family,

After receiving a forward named "National Health Care (Scare)" and watching various protests on tv, I decided to offer you the research I've done on this matter. And by research, I mean looking at unbiased fact-checking organizations and rooting out the truth. I cannot sit idly by while people equate the current health care proposal with the Holocaust and warn against Big Brother. I have a unique viewpoint as I work in the health care system. I have had countless patients with exorbitant medical bills by the time they started hospice, some of whom have had to file for bankruptcy. And these are the folks that had health insurance! I also think of friends that were recently laid off and trying to figure out if they can afford COBRA or should just hope for the best. Or the people who don't have employer-based health insurance and pay for crappy plans, just in case. I don't have the answers but hopefully I can shed some light on a few of the
arguments. It's a lot of information but we should be fully informed before we can advocate for one position over another.

First, an overview on why the health care system needs to be reformed:

Sojourners created a Health-Care Reform Resource page with fact sheets and a look at the moral issues of health care. I always appreciate Jim Wallis's words to the faith community and his continued call for social justice. addresses purported euthanasia counseling here: There is a huge difference between Advance Care Planning and encouraging euthanasia. The counseling sessions are not mandatory and simply provide patients with information they can use to make their health care decisions. These conversations need to happen but often do not until it's too late. When it comes to a terminal illness, a patient may decide to fight to the very end or they may weigh the options and decide to start hospice. The bill would block funding to any place that offered euthanasia or assisted suicide as an option.

Regarding arguments about health care in England, Canada, etc. Snopes provides a review of Canada's health care system. It's hard to find unbiased reviews of the other health care systems but I'll keep looking. I will say this though: We already accept socialism in some aspects of our society. Look no further than the public school system, local library, and police and fire departments. And to be clear, Medicare (and Medicaid) are government-run health care plans. I'm not saying universal health care is the answer but I also think we can't write off countries that practice health care a little differently than we do.

Health Care Rationing: has an excellent article on this subject: Insurance companies do deny claims, refuse to pay for certain treatments or medications, etc. That leaves the consumer with the decision of whether or not to pay for treatment anyway or self-ration the care. Even Medicare and Medicaid ration, in that they pay only a fixed rate for certain services. For instance, hospice gets a daily rate, regardless of diagnosis, medical need, number of visits needed, medical equipment or medication needs, etc. Did you know that your doctor or health care provider might lose money for treating a Medicare or Medicaid patient? Speaking for my employer, since we are a not-for-profit, we provide all these services regardless of our reimbursement rate but the bottom line is never far from my supervisor's mind.

My favorite political site: addresses's claim that people are killed by being denied insurance coverage. (See, I'm looking at both liberals and conservatives!) Be sure to look at their take on the uninsured population: Look through the rest of the FactCheck site to get info on specific items in the proposed Health Care bill. Here's an overview of Obama's health care news conference last month:

The idea of Senior Death Warrants and other erroneous arguments: Trish Torrey addresses an email and researches its claims on her blog "Every Patient's Advocate." Also worth looking at is the Money First vs. Lives First argument:

I believe something needs to change. Is the current proposal perfect? No. Could they stand to take another look at this plan? Yes. Should anyone- ON EITHER SIDE- be utilizing scare tactics to support their agenda? Absolutely not. (And especially not if they are invoking God's will or calling the "other side" side evil. That drives me crazy!) To that end, I hope this information is useful to you as you sort through the debate. Keep praying for our lawmakers, for our president, and for our communities. I welcome any insights you might have.


SocialWkr24/7 said...

Thank you for doing something that I have been just too lazy to do - research! :)

I've been following the debates on the news - but haven't gotten around to doing all the fact checking. Turns out that things are pretty much as I suspected - both sides blow things way out of porportion! But changes are needed - that remains an obvious truth.

LeighSW said...

A friend let me know about this site:
Lots of good info and the rating system is hilarious.