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Expertise

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.

Comments

samtosha
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.