For over one year our political leaders have been besieged by the health care crisis. Republicans, Democrats, and Independents have been consumed by debates over the best way to provide needed health care, and how to pay for it. Sarah Palin has caused “death panels” to become a household word, even though they are a figment of her imagination. She suggested that “…my baby with Down’s Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s death panel so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their level of productivity in society, whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil.” Yet, the problem that politicians are wrestling with is how to get health services to millions of average people, who have ordinary needs.
Women are dying unnecessarily from breast cancer. Children are dying needlessly from illness and disease that could have been prevented with minimal health care, if provided initially, rather than after a crisis had occurred. Almost 46 million American have absolutely NO health insurance, and another 25 million more are underinsured. These millions of Americans may include some with special needs but most are average people who have no way to obtain the basic health care services. The issue facing the country is not about special needs children, but about ordinary Americans who go to work every day and still can’t afford basic health services.
Many employers have stopped offering health insurance because the cost is prohibitive. In 2007 the United States health care spending totaled $2.4 trillion dollars, or $7,900 per person (according to an analysis published in the Journal of Health Affairs). The United States spends 52 percent more per person than the next most costly nation, Norway, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Thus everyone seems to agree that health care reform is necessary, including Republican and Democratic members of Congress, the American Medical Association, and America’s Health Insurance Plans, which represent the insurance industry. The problem is reaching agreement on how to accomplish the goal.
What we need is bi-partisan support for a real solution. Sarah Palin has not offered any solutions but only made it harder to solve the problem. By causing fear and discontent she has added additional obstacles to the challenges that face politicians. Since she has resigned her position as Governor, she doesn’t have to be accountable for solving the problems, but is able to spend her time criticizing those who are searching for a solution. Palin gets paid thousands of dollars and increases her notoriety by adding to the discontentment. Instead of offering solutions, she simply criticizes.
The hypocrisy of Palin has never been more evident than in her verbal attacks on health care reform. We now know that she went to Canada as a child to take advantage of Canada’s nationalized health care, when her father, a school teacher, couldn’t afford the health care her family needed. Even though Palin suggests that it is the family’s responsibility to provide health care for its members, and even though Palin is making millions for speaking engagements and book deals, her own grandchild relies on governmental health care.
Sarah Palin is not part of the solution this country needs; she is part of the problem. “Common sense” tells me that if 71 million Americans can’t afford the basic health care, something is terribly wrong. Palin is adding salt to our wounds!
Having worked as a nurse, I have seen ordinary ailments turn into a life-threatening crises, due to a patient’s inability to receive basic medical services in a timely fashion. Having worked as a trial attorney representing medical doctors, I have seen frivolous lawsuits result in outrageous expense to the doctors and their insurance companies, which are passed on to the consumer. At the same time, I have seen a limited number of medical doctors, allowed to continue practicing medicine when their patients were harmed by gross malfeasance.
As a patient with Multiple Sclerosis, I met a patient who was unable to leave her cheating husband because she was dependent upon him for her health care. This patient was already blind in one eye, had limited vision in the other, so she could not drive. This was a woman in her 30’s who had been in a wheel chair, but due to a new medicine she was receiving she was able to walk with a cane. If she were to leave her husband she would be without medical insurance, her medicine would no longer be covered, and Multiple Sclerosis would be a pre-existing condition. She would have returned to a wheelchair and would likely become totally blind. When she confronted her husband about the fact that he was having an affair, he responded by asking, “What are you going to do about it?” She was a prisoner in her marriage due to her inability to receive health care. When I think of a “special needs” person, I think of this mother. What are we doing about her special needs?