Monday, May 18, 2009

The wheels of government …

turn slowly, apparently.

This post will be completely lacking in health or fitness content, mostly because being on the road and then being exhausted – emotionally and physically – has resulted in a lack of health or fitness content in my life over the past few days. This post also is kind of lengthy and might not interest you, particularly if you live someplace other than the United States and/or are happy with the state of your health care.

So, here’s how Washington, DC, works. You and thousands of others drive and drive and drive – slowly – from all directions into a tiny little section of real estate surrounded by several outerbelt highways. You get lost a couple of times and finally find your hotel. Which, as it turns out, isn’t in a particularly nice part of town, so you have a bag of microwave popcorn for dinner.

You’ve driven in DC before, so you are willing to find a parking garage and walk to Capitol Hill the following morning. That process actually went very well. The weather was great, the city was bustling, you could feel the energy of Important People going to Important Places to do Important Things.

My husband and I counted ourselves among them. We were on a mission: We were going to convince our Senators (Rockefeller and Byrd) and our Congressman (Rahall), all Democrats, that single-payer health care is the best way to reform our system. It works in every other industrialized nation in the world. Most Americans and most physicians favor this plan.

There were 10 of us altogether. Among our group were four doctors, a former mayor, a college student, a social worker, a retired economics professor and an Australian native who is now a U.S. citizen who will be returning to Australia to have a hip replacement done. And me.

We didn’t get to meet with the politicians themselves, but spent a good deal of time with representatives of each. Congressman Rahall’s representative wasn’t very knowledgeable about the issue; we felt we were educating her. She wanted to know what AARP thought of single-payer, and I thought several of us might fall off our chairs. AARP is profiting quite nicely, thank you, from the system the way it is. If you think they are an advocate for senior citizens, think again.

Senator Rockefeller’s aide was quite emphatic that what we want is not going to happen. It is politically impossible at this time. Period. End of story. She listened to all our stories, said she would read all our resources and repeated that single-payer isn’t an option in the current debate.

Senator Byrd’s aide said the same thing, but he was much nicer about it, and he also seemed very sympathetic to the cause. Senator Byrd doesn’t sit on any of the relevant committees, as Rockefeller does, so he can’t be of as much help anyway.

What we heard from both Senators – and this is where you come in – is that they are getting more phone calls and letters from people wanting less government interference in their lives. They didn’t specifically say that these constituents were against single-payer healthcare, so we took that to mean they don’t want anyone messing with the Second Amendment to the Constitution. But the bottom line is that these Senators really do seem to listen to what people are saying. Single-payer advocates apparently aren’t as loud as those who want to keep their guns. And we definitely aren’t as loud as health insurance and pharmaceutical lobbyists.

If you care about the state of our nation’s health and economy, please contact your Congressional representatives and tell them what single-payer can do for America and Americans. Solving the health care problem will go a long way toward solving our economic woes. Go to PNHP for talking points. Common Dreams has an informative article written just last month about the obstacles we need to overcome. Spread the word in your blogs, in your workplaces, in your families, at your doctors’ offices. Here is a list of groups and organizations supporting HR676, which will lay the foundation for single-payer. (It’s also available as a .pdf.)

Although it has no scientific validity whatsoever, I’d love for you to answer this question at urtak, and to ask others to answer it as well.

This is not just a personal issue for me. I care about my country and the people who live in it. Millions of people are uninsured; millions more are underinsured. If you haven’t had an insurance company deny one of your claims, you will. Our systems is “working” right now by having an army of office workers in doctors’ offices fight with an army of office workers in insurance company offices. Thirty percent of our health-care dollars pay for this fight.

That money can be spent far more wisely.

Thanks for reading all the way to the end. I wish I could give you a prize! All I can give you is my heartfelt thanks for doing whatever you can do to help get this done. The political climate is oh-so-close. You could be the tipping point.

1 comment:

LG said...

Debbi, great job! Thanks for the links. What's great is that you got feedback from the senators' representatives on what will probably happen, even if it's not what you wanted to hear. I'd rather hear the truth than to be lied to my face.