October 1, 2009

PUBLIC OPTION IN CRITICAL CONDITION

As I read (with profound disappointment) reports that the Senate voted down two amendments that would have added a public option to the Senate Finance Committee’s health reform bill, I was reminded of this story published in The New York Daily News on Monday. Dr. Frank Huyler wrote the story and he recounts treating a woman in his emergency room who had waited 11 hours to be seen. The woman suffered from a few chronic illnesses, which she had been managing with a private doctor before she was layed off and lost her insurance. Now uninsured, her doctor dropped her. She went to the ER complaining of chest pain and to have her prescriptions re-filled.

Dr. Huyler determined that the woman’s symptoms required a cardio work-up and admitted her and ordered routine tests. The patient was released the next day and her tests were thankfully negative. Not seeking a free ride, she duitifully met with hospital social workers to work out a payment plan. She was handed a bill...for $10,000.

In stories like this the identity of the patient is necessarily kept private. But this woman’s anonymity underscores for me the faceless and voiceless throngs of uninsured Americans who will face bankruptcy or even death because they cannot afford health insurance. Tens of millions of Americans lack insurance and their plight seems trivialized by a congress focused more on appeasing special interests than on protecting the rights of citizens. While lives hang in the balance our lawmakers are determined to protect the integrity of the private insurance industry. Yes, a public option, which is essential, may eventually sink private insurers. What’s so vexing is that our elected officials are unwilling to face down greedy corporate interests and face up to their responsibility as guardians of the public interest.

Interesting Factoids:

63% of physicians support public and private options (NPR)

More people believe in UFOs (34%)(AP Poll) than oppose a public option (26%) (NY Times)

Take Action

If you're in New York tomorrow - appear as an extra in a MoveOn ad starring Heather Graham! The ad will pit the actress against lazy Big insurance companies and the Public Option in a track meet race. Friday, October 2, 12pm-2pm

Location: The Red Hook Running Track at Red Hook Recreation Area. Meet at the corner of Hicks and Bay Street at noon sharp.

companies

Are your elected officials on these committees? Call, fax or email them with your thoughts.

http://finance.senate.gov/

http://help.senate.gov/