Health Care Politics and Laws
I know that this is not supposed to be a blog about politics, but this is such an excellent essay that it needs to be widely shared and read. As we await the Supreme Court's ruling on the Obama health care law, many of us are very, very worried about the possible outcomes and implications. In Massachusetts, with our universal health care, we are mostly shielded from this passionate national debate, but I have no doubt that our law could be challenged, too. Working where I do, I daily see the kinds of problems that lack of insurance could bring. Before our state laws were enacted, I, too, used to talk with people who faced the kinds of problems described in this editorial. How do you balance your own medical needs, especially in dire circumstances when the treatments may not even be so helpful, against your family's ongoing needs? I have seen people take out impossible-to-repay second mortgages, deplete their savings, spend every possible penny in a desparate attempt to secure care and possible health. We can do better, and we must do better. It is shameful that the United States does not provide health care as a basic human right to all our people.
Here is the beginning of the editorial and a link:
Money or Your Life
By THERESA BROWN
This is the first article in Bedside, a new series about nursing and health care.
He was one of those salt-of-the-earth guys from the rural part of Pennsylvania. Middle-aged, married with adult kids, he'd worked his whole life running his own small business, a local restaurant that he jokingly called a bordello. His wife worked, too, and she had health insurance, but he wasn't on her policy. Maybe he couldn't afford it, or he was saving money by playing the odds. After all, he'd always been healthy. And then one day he had leukemia.
I was his nurse, and he surprised me one afternoon by bringing up "death panels." Usually I avoid having political conversations in the hospital, but he was preoccupied with something that wasn't real. I didn't want him worrying about a chimera when he was adjusting to a diagnosis of cancer and an inpatient hospital stay that would last six weeks or more. I told him there was no such thing as death panels.
"Really?" he said, in his raspy voice. "Because I hoped there were."
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