July 07, 2009

Urgent: Health Care will be Fixed in July or Not At All

"I think it's fair to say that July is going to be the most historic and consequential period for health care reform --perhaps in all of history.  Never at any time that I can recall has so much come down to just a few weeks."

--Former Senate Majority Leader and Health Care Expert Tom Daschle, speaking today

The reason for the urgency is the timeline Congress operates on: basically there needs to be a draft bill ready before the August recess in order to get a bill done by the end of 2009.  If there is no bill by the end of the year, it's highly unlikely that a new plan will come together during Obama's presidency, and the issue will continue to worsen as it has since the last health care reform attempt in 1993, 16 years ago.

I'm personally passionate about the health care issue because I have a friend who is literally a health care exile. He has diabetes and is an independent contractor.  This is a lethal combination in the US.  He cannot get private health care because of his "pre-existing condition," and he can't work for a company because he is in a particular line of work (advising failed states on incorporating American values on media laws into their new constitutions) where it's very hard to find a company who will employ him.  He's even offered to pay for all diabetes-related expenses in order to get a private health care plan, but no insurance company would agree.  As a result he lives in France along with his wife (also an American citizen) and their two children.

I'm also passionate because my Mom would like to retire after having worked hard her whole life (she's a physicians' assistant at a nursing home), but she continues to work in order to pay for the health care to cover my Dad's prescriptions.  I'm also passionate because my Aunt, who is over 70 and lives on a fixed income after having worked at a university her whole career, pays $700 a month just for prescriptions because of the "doughnut hole" in Medicare Part D. 

And their stories are nothing compared to families that have gone into personal bankruptcy to cover health care costs, or had a loved one die because they couldn't get preventive care, early treatment or screenings.

Maybe you, or someone you know has had trouble getting the care they need at manageable prices.  If you're passionate about fixing this problem, your not alone. But it's not clear yet that Senator Cantwell (D-WA) understands the scope of the problem.  She sits on the crucial Senate Finance committe, but she has not come out in support of giving Americans a choice between a public and a private plan.  She has some ideas about health care, but it's not clear they are enough to really fix the problems my family and my friends have.  And given the urgency of getting this settled in July, time is short.

We need to push Senator Cantwell (whom I campaigned for, by the way) to come out clearly in support of guaranteed health care for all Americans, while giving us choice and control. Please join us for a short rally in front of the Senator's office downtown on Thursday at lunch time (12:15p).  More details here: http://tinyurl.com/seahcr.  If you can't be there, please get involved in other ways (ask me how).

Please help spread the word by telling people about this event and sending a link to the details.

Want to learn more? Listen to this NPR story from this morning.
Learn more about other rallies in the US on the same day.

By Will Friedman in Health Care | Permalink  | 


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