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Comments and thoughts ... Email Patricia

July 31, 2009

Health Care For The People By The People – NOW!

I attended a workshop July 25th 2009 to learn more about health care reform. I felt that in order to separate the myths from the distortions that dominate the news, I needed to be better informed. After all, how could I engage my neighbors, community and legislators about life and death problem that affects over 47 millions Americans if I couldn't communicate clearly and succinctly the urgency to legislate health care reform NOW? Attendees were a diverse representation of gender, race and age. It was clear that health care reform didn't discriminate. Everyone had stories of their lives, families and friends affected by the lack of basic medical care. Some reasons I heard that got people out of bed on a Saturday morning were riveting. I talked to people who had lost their health care because of downsizing and elimination of their jobs, those who had no access to coverage due to pre-existing conditions, premiums so exorbitant that individuals could no longer afford them, business people unable to provide health care for their employees because of the skyrocketing costs and other stories as varied as the people attending. The people at that workshop represented the stories of people around this country who are living without health care, dying, suffering and languishing as congress, lobbyist and the media debate its merits and affordability. It is strange that the right to bear arms would supersede the right to quality of life or the right to health care but that is another topic we will discuss another day. During a break between sessions, a young women came into the conference room to inquire what exactly this health care reform workshop was about. It was explained briefly by various attendees that it was about supporting legislation to provide affordable health care for all Americans. She said, "Oh, this is not for me. I don't agree with that" to which I asked why not? She replied, "Because if people are sick they can go to emergency." I think everyone in earshot was amazed that she thought it was a solution. When someone suggested that scenario was more expensive then preventative care or having access to health care, she turned on her heels and left. I couldn't help but wonder if the words "Patriots" on the signage directing people to the workshop gave the impression we were tea baggers or, at the very least, of like mind. In that moment it hit me how many of my fellow citizens actually feel that all people in this country don't deserve or merit health care. Could they know that 1 out of 4 Texans don't have health care? Do they care that Texas is at the bottom of the totem pole in the entire nation for providing health care to children, seniors, soldiers, veterans, widows and workers? How could she and the proponents against health care reform see dollar signs and not people? I don't get it but her inquiry strengthened my resolve to help President Obama get health care reform instituted in this country NOW!

It will take every concerned uninsured and insured citizen to fight this fight that will insure health care for every American. This debate has been raging since President Truman, Roosevelt, and Clinton tried to get it legislated. 70 years later we are arguing about whether our fellow citizens should have health care. It doesn't' make sense unless you factor in the 1.4 million dollars lobbyists from insurance companies and related health care interest are pumping into Washington everyday.

I am a Texas resident and so am calling on my entire fellow Texans to turn up the heat on our state representatives and senators. Collectively they oppose health care or any measure that would help Texans and other Americans receive basic medical care. I purposely highlight Texas Senator John Cornyn. Senator Cornyn is a junior member of the Senate Finance Committee currently determining ways to pay for health care reform. His vote will help decide what kind of health care reform plan hits the entire senate. Since Senator Cornyn was elected to the senate in 2002 and he has received campaign contributions of over $1,352,724 from the health industry, $2,995,628 from finance/insurance/real estate, $1, 311,843 from other, and $858, 153 from Ideology/single issue interest. I have no clue what other and ideology-single issue represents, but it sounds rather dubious and ominous. Wait there is more! According to Opensecrets.org for the 2010 cycle of campaign contributions Senator Cornyn already has received a total of $219, 646 from Pharmaceuticals/health products, $348,169 Insurance and $746,463 from health professionals. Senator Cornyn doesn't support health care reform but suggest an alternative that would include state-based initiatives and incentives to spur people to live healthier lives, which would lower health care cost. I don't know about you but it looks like the big dollars supporting Senator Cornyn is the only Americans health he is concerned about. Call, write and e-mail him today and let him know his rhetoric, stance and protection of his donors and campaign contributors will not protect him from the electorate who put him in office. His Washington phone number is 202-224-5922 and for all of his contact information, access this link.

Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison has indicated she might run for governor, but until that time she also must be reminded that health care reform should be at the top of her agenda. She has offices in Washington, Austin, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, Abilene and Harlingen Texas. Just the rent on these offices could cover hundreds of Texans health care. Her Washington D.C. phone number is 202-224-5922. Lastly, Representative John Carter who represents district 31 of Bell County, Texas, has the following atrocious voting record on health care, NO March 2008 on giving mental health full equity with physical health, NO to allow State Children's Health Insurance Programs (SCHIP) to cover 6 million more children in January 2008, NO to adding 2-4 million children to SCHIP eligibility in October 2007, NO on requiring negotiated medical prices for Medicare part D in January 2007, YES on denying non-emergency treatment for lack of Medicare co-pay February 2006, YES on limiting medical malpractice lawsuits to $250,000 damages May 2004, YES on limited prescription drug benefits for Medicare recipients, November 2003, NO on allowing reimportation of prescription drugs July 2003, YES to remove restrictions on menopause medication June 2008.

The American Public Health Association (APHA) on health issues rated Representative John Carter 0%. APHA is the oldest and largest organization of public health professionals in the world. Take a moment as you study Representative Carter's voting record over the pass seven years and ask yourself who does he represent? It is incumbent on Texans and people around the country to find out who your congress people are representing?" Then it is imperative that you call them out and demand they answer for the lack of concern they have for their constituency regarding health care and all issues that affect children, seniors, poor, disadvantaged and disenfranchised Americans.

In conclusion remember to separate Facts from the Myths:

Myth: President Obama and the proponents want government run health care to take over.
Fact: Competition with the private sector is the aim to bring cost down. What is Medicare, Veterans Hospitals and Medicaid if not governmentally run? Should we dispose of it?

Myth: If we have government-run health care then we will have long waiting periods and rationed health care.
Fact: Health care is already rationed in this country it's that it's rationed to who can pay rather than who needs it most.

Myth: Government-run heath care won't let you choose your doctor.
Fact: Private insurance doesn't let you choose your doctor either. If the doctor isn't in your network, you pay out of pocket or don't see the one of your choice.

Myth: Government-run health care dictates which medications physicians can prescribe.
Fact: Private insurance already dictate which medications will be prescribed by limiting what they will pay for and how high your co-pay will be.

How empowering it is if you know the facts and you can see the myths for the lies they are.

We need Health Reform with a Public Option. There are four keys to the Public Health Insurance Option. R.E.A.L.

Right away - Everyday we delay, the costs are escalating.

Everyone must have access to quality health care in America.

Accountable- A public health options must be publicly accountable and transparent to the electorate and congress.

Large enough to lower cost by having a nationwide network of providers so that costs are competitive and we have the ability to bargain on equal terms with private insurance plans.

I know this has been one of my longer columns and I appreciate you hanging to the end. We as a nation can't allow this opportunity to legislate health care reform pass us by for another seventy years. Party, race, gender or belief is irrelevant. Americans across this country need affordable health care. Tomorrow is too expensive and too far away for our fellow citizens who need it today. If you can't justify it based on its merits and the longevity of America's strong standing in the world, consider that if we can fight two wars, bail out wall street, and support gas and oil interest, can't we at least support the Americans who make that all possible?

Comments and thoughts ... Email PatriciaStatue of Liberty


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