Why We Need a Reality Check
August 19, 2009
03:33 PM EST
03:33 PM EST
There are a couple stories out today which, when put in contrast, highlight why we need the Health Insurance Reform Reality Check site, and why we need you to help get the word out about it. (Get the site badge on the right here, by the way.)
The first is a post at the New York Times’ health blog from Oncology nurse Theresa Brown entitled "A Nurse’s View of Health Reform. "
"I could offer a tableau of stories, but instead I will tell just one," she says, relaying the story of a patient she once got to know well during his three-month stay in the hospital with leukemia. His good spirits and determination were under a constant weight even beyond his illness:
This patient’s six weeks turned into two months, and then three months, as one chemo regimen after another made no headway against his disease.
During periods when he was feeling sort of O.K., he was constantly on the phone and the Internet trying to find a way to pay his mounting hospital bills. He told me, "I know there’s money out there; I just have to find it." He was confident that he could locate money for his care and that he would "beat" the cancer.
And then I came to work one day, and he was dead as a result of pneumonia. During the fraught and too quick final three months of his life, the cost of his care weighed on him as heavily as his possible death. His wife lost her husband. In addition to mourning him, is she also saddled with a medical debt that will burden her for years to come?
Can we all agree that the worry provoked by any kind of serious illness should not be compounded with the concern that we cannot afford the treatment we need?
She brings her point home by discussing one of the eight consumer protections the President has been highlighting, ending the lifetime cap on benefits, and making clear how real these issues are:
So I ask the people who oppose health care reform to consider what they would do if they found themselves in my patient’s situation — because they very well could, sooner than they know. Any of us could wake up sick, without the coverage we need, in danger of losing the very job that gives us health insurance. Our lifetime cap on insurance, which we never thought we would approach, can be brought so near that the question of costs cannot be separated from the treatment needed to stay alive.
The second story out today stands as a disturbing contrast, a demonstration of the efforts opponents of reform have gone to in order to derail help for working Americans in situations like the one Theresa Brown recalls. Courtesy of the Wall Street Journal, the headline "NBC Poll: Myths Endure on Health Care, Highlighting Doubts on Overhaul":
Nearly half of Americans believe that a proposed overhaul of the health care system means the government will decide when to stop providing medical treatment to senior citizens, according to the latest polling by NBC News released this evening. Some 45% said they believe the plan is likely to include such a provision that has become known as "death panels" despite bipartisan efforts by President Barack Obama and the provision’s author, Republican Georgia Sen. Johnny Isakson to dispel the idea. (Isakson, in a recent interview with the Washington Post called the confusion "nuts.")
This is an astounding number, and other polls have shown smaller but still alarming percentages --nonetheless it shows just how necessary your efforts are to ensure there is an honest conversation and debate on health insurance reform. So far we have done two Reality Check videos touching on this issue alone, one from Melody Barnes taking on Republican claims, and one out today from Linda Douglass answering a question from outside the President’s New Hampshire town hall. Help get the word out about those videos and others debunking myths you may have heard, this is our best chance for reform in decades and we need to do everything we can to ensure those protecting the status quo don’t win based on dishonest claims as they always have in the past.