October 28, 2009

How many lives are enough?

Within minutes after MSNBC.com published our film, Denied, about Sheila Wessenberg, my phone rang with a call from abroad. It was a frustrated American who has found himself exiled from his own country because his child got sick. He is a health care refugee, an American who now lives in Japan where his son, who is on life support, is able to receive all the care he needs without bankrupting his family. It was a complete contradiction to his experience stateside. After his two-month-old son suffered a series of seizures and was put in an induced coma to quell the seizures, the father was told to take his infant home and allow him to die. The family refused, and has since traveled the globe seeking experimental treatments and a sympathetic health care system. Their son is now 12.

"America has a system where the elites are profiting but they deny children a chance to live healthy," he said to me. He then recounted a conversation he had with a Japanese colleague who asked 'how can America expect anyone in the world to trust what it says when its own children can't trust it to take care of them?'

Please explain to me how any politician debating health care reform in Congress can choose to deny citizens access to health care with a clear conscience? And how can anyone who ostensibly represents the voice of the people justify filibustering as an acceptable course of action?

How many Sheila Wessenbergs have to die before we get genuine health care reform?