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My first job was filing charts in my dad's office when I was twelve or thirteen. I'd go to work with him a few days a week and help his secretary with lite office work. When I was sixteen, I worked a summer for an oncologist doing more or less the same thing. I also worked for a rhumatologist answering phones and helping out the rest of the very busy office staff. When I was seventeen and nineteen, I worked as a nurse's aide in the hospital where my dad worked, day surgery one summer, the ICU the following. I took a little time off from health care after that, canvassing the summer when I was 21 and then working for the Houston Area Women's Center when I was 22 and 23. From that point on, though, I've worked every single paycheck in healthcare. I wrote my undergraduate thesis on healthcare, I went to law school specifically to become a healthcare lawyer, I did all of the coursework for a masters in Public Health with a concentration on Management and Policy Sciences. I've been a practicing health care attorney for eleven years.

I like to think I know a little bit about healthcare.

But I haven't talked much about it in the last few months. I haven't written a word here about the debate going on nationally. I have been nearly silent on Lawtalkers about it.

And it's because I'm so pissed off I don't even know where to begin.

A friend of mine went to an opthalmologist's appointment on Monday. As he was leaving the office, an old man came in and presented some paper work to the front desk person. He explained that Medicare had rejected the claim and was there anything they could do to help him resubmit? The woman behind the desk saw what was wrong and asked him to have a seat in the waiting room. The man then went on to rant at a black lady minding her own business in the waiting room about how Obama wanted to take health care away from all of us and have the government take it over. The man on Medicare.

The debate on my lawyer board has become so insane that I can't go anywhere near there anymore. There are people there that honestly don't see a problem with the system we have now. Self-interest has so blinded those people (admittedly only a few) that debate is pointless, and I bowed out two weeks ago. Occasionally, I'll scroll by, see some false assertion that could easily be corrected with a sentence or two, and have to resist the temptation to be brought back into the fray in a battle I know I can't win because no one actually wants to fix the problems that they think exist.

And now there's the assault in the town-hall meetings. Falsehoods, stupid assertions, volume without substaqnce. My favorite, of course, was at Gene Green's last night:
During the town hall, one conservative activist turns to his fellow attendees and asks them to raise their hands if they “oppose any form of socialized or government-run health care.” Almost all the hands shot up. Rep Green quickly turned the question on the audience and asked, “How many of you have Medicare?” Nearly half the attendees raised their hands, failing to note the irony.

At another point, a small business owner who supported health reform asks the audience how many people in this room “do not have health insurance of some kind.” Only one hand seemed to be raised. “I think the people who are objecting,” she noted, “are the people who have insurance.”
But they killed Lloyd Doggett's town-hall meeting yesterday, too. And while I think they have a total right to be a pain in the ass at public events, they're wrong. Factually, wrong. And that bothers me.

But what I've gathered over the last few weeks is that the people on my lawyer board, the person in the doctor's office and the people at these town hall meetings don't care about the health care system. They have access to health care. They don't see a problem with the system as it currently stands, with the inefficient and costly emergency rooms standing in as the only way for a good hunk of our population to get healthcare. If something goes horribly wrong for some poor sap without insurance, the thousands of dollars of medical bills were seemingly that person's fault. They should have bought insurance instead of a big screen TV or the new car or the house that they're upside down on their mortgage.

And so, I sit here, clearly knowing nothing about healthcare despite a lifetime of working in the industry, and I feel dispair. Because I know that these people have big insurance money on their side, and they'll ultimately win. And people in the US will continue to suffer at great cost.


( 15 comments — Say something )
Aug. 5th, 2009 05:13 pm (UTC)
"Nearly half the attendees raised their hands, failing to note the irony."

Between this and the fact that the elected officials who are so opposed to the reform have absolutely amazing health care benefits, I too am so pissed off that I am not letting myself get pulled into those debates and conversations.
Aug. 5th, 2009 05:19 pm (UTC)
And while I think they have a total right to be a pain in the ass at public events, they're wrong. Factually, wrong. And that bothers me.

I think the version of this that I said to my father last night was "If they want to have bad opinions, fine. That's their deal. But, oh my god, have bad opinions about things that are at least based in reality!"

I've reached my limit for being able to deal with people who can manage to be willfully ignorant of the facts that are staring them straight in the face. Or, even better, just take the scare tactic claims from someone else as cold, hard fact without so much as looking for another source.

And I cannot even begin to deal with the people who act as though private insurance never denies people treatment or weighs the potential benefits against costs.

Mostly, though, watching the shout downs at town-hall meetings makes me scared. It's one thing to go in angry and wanting answers. But to go in with absolutely no intention of letting anyone answer or get a word in edgewise or to allow for any actual debate or conversation... it's just disruption for disruption's sake. And that's maybe what bothers me the most. The fact that they're not just ignoring and refusing to look at facts themselves. They are willfully working to keep other people from becoming informed.
Aug. 5th, 2009 05:35 pm (UTC)
Its amazing how much money the insurance lobby is throwing at this. It all goes back to the old adage "Follow The Money". Unless and Until all political elections are publicly funded, politicians - and people are bought and they stay bought.

The Republicans and Insurance loby are incredibly well organized right now. There is virtually NO CHANCE at all of this ever getting passed as long as we, the people, put up with "The Way Things Are".

Edited at 2009-08-05 05:36 pm (UTC)
Aug. 5th, 2009 06:08 pm (UTC)
The latest polling shows that, overall, people under 50 support the plan and people over 50 don't. Which means that the only people who get a guaranteed government pension and guaranteed government healthcare apparently don't feel like extending those benefits to everyone else.
Aug. 5th, 2009 06:35 pm (UTC)
OK...since you brought it up...
How will government sponsored health care affect people like me who already have really good insurance through an employer? Will I lose benefits? Will I lose my ability to go wherever I want (I have very good PPO insurance) for a specialist without a referral from another doctor? Will it cost me more?

I have been following the debate and issue casually but I tend to tune it out. To many talking heads and no one really listening so that people can make real sense of what is on the table.
Aug. 5th, 2009 06:57 pm (UTC)
As it currently stands, it really wouldn't impact you at all. To qualify for the public plan you have to be in the exchange, to be in the exchange, you'd have to be unemployed or otherwise uninsured. Your employer would continue to provide you with insurance. There's a slight possibility that you'd be either taxed on the insurance benefit you already receive tax free (you freeloader, you), but that's not really on the table. The PPO wouldn't change at all, though it's possible that they'd offer MORE services to adequately compete with the insurance market.
Aug. 5th, 2009 07:02 pm (UTC)
I don't see how people who are insured have a problem with this then. OK, maybe the being taxed part, I'm taxed enough already but as long as it's not outrageous, it's a win/win for the public.

I can see why Big Business has an issue, but I really do believe that we need some kind of National Health Care program in place for people who need it. I'd actually be more for full government regulation of health care to stop the gouging on procedures that seems to happen. The difference in cost between having the same MRI at USC, UCLA and the radiology place down the street from my house is obscene.
Aug. 5th, 2009 07:07 pm (UTC)
Well, people who are insured are happy with what they have and worry that they're either going to a) pay more to maintain the status quo, or b) going to lose something.

And, under the current system, you are royally fucked if you don't have a job that provides insurance for you. Given your medical history, there is no insurance company in the world that would write you an individual policy that would provide the sort of coverage that you need that wouldn't cost an absolute fortune. Your monthly premiums would probably be well over a couple thousand dollars a month in the individual market.
Aug. 5th, 2009 07:16 pm (UTC)
Oh, I know this well. I took a paycut to keep my job last year and avoid being laid off so I could keep my insurance. I have AFLAC on top of everything which I took over premiums from a prior employer who had offered it. When they found out my prior medical history, they wigged.

The current system is broken in more ways than anyone can imagine. We need something in place. I agree with your frustration and anger over the intimidation through misinformation and fear that's being used.
Aug. 6th, 2009 09:58 am (UTC)
I pay out of pocket for my health insurance and with my medical history, it is an insane amount of money. But I have to have it, no way around it.
Aug. 5th, 2009 06:36 pm (UTC)
Insurance companies take your money and on average never give it all back. They provide it for profit not altruism. They decide which doctors you can use, which hospitals you can go to and whether your bleeding ankle warrants a trip to the emergency room. The young and/or healthy people in an insurance plan pay for the old or infirmed. With several different plans in place and the need of employers providing some or all of the insurance cost, most people have to change providers more often than they'd wish. Neither they nor the doctor ever knows what's going to be covered or not covered. The doctor has to have several employees to send in all the necessary different information that all these different insurance companies are demanding in order to get payment. If you don't have insurance but miraculously can pay the bill up front, you still don't get a cash discount. How could the government as a central all inclusive insurer make it any more expensive or complicated or out of the reach of more people?
Aug. 5th, 2009 07:17 pm (UTC)

I feel for you. I tend to just sit there with my mouth hanging open when this debate comes anywhere near me. There are so many people who are so opposed to "the government telling them what health care they can have" who are apparently totally fine with some insurance company telling them what health care they can (or can't) have. It blows my mind.
Aug. 5th, 2009 07:25 pm (UTC)
(BTW, relevant to my interests, I really liked this article, although Alternet's formatting seems to have gone insane today: http://www.alternet.org/healthwellness/76032/?page=entire )
Aug. 5th, 2009 09:54 pm (UTC)
Lunatics. These are the same lunatics who believe everything out of Rush Limbaugh's mouth and don't think Obama is a "natural born citizen".

The sad fact is, that they might just be able to be divisive enough so that nothing happens.

Imagine if people had gone to Town Hall meetings and been distruptive when the Iraqi war resolution was being discussed? Oh, that's right, it was never discussed. I feel that health care reform is at least as important an issue as Saddam's phantom WMDs.

I hope the Democrats grow a spine and tell these fuckwad Republicans to shut up. And some of these idiots want to "start over", which in GOP-speak, means "wait another 15 years". It's infuriating.
Aug. 6th, 2009 03:27 am (UTC)
I'm ahead of you on the age scale - neither your fault nor mine - and behind you on the work-in-the-health-care-legal-system scale (again, no blame either way).

I send you lame internet hugs. I send my legislators angry letters.

You pay more attention.
( 15 comments — Say something )


'stina is, surprisingly enough, a lawyer from Houston, Texas who rambles about quite a number of things.

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