Senator Ted Kennedy on the Importance of Health Care Reform

Senator Ted Kennedy has shown true leadership in his quest for health care reform over the last four decades. I’ve been a small business owner for the last several years, after having been with two global technology companies. Health care reform and insurance, in particular, is critical to our country. Without it, we will certainly be driven into far more financial turmoil than we are in today.

I recently read Senator Ted Kennedy’s health care reform article printed in Newsweek called “The Cause of My Life”. In this article Mr. Kennedy talks about why he has tirelessly lobbied for universal health care throughout his career.

Mr. Kennedy has had plenty of tragedy and medical issues throughout his family’s life. Health care reform became a rallying cry for him when his 12 year old son, Teddy, had his right leg amputated because of cancer. During his son’s cancer treatments, he met and spoke with many families, who unlike the Kennedy’s did not have the ability to afford quality medical care.

As a small business owner with two children, we are all too acutely aware of how important it is to have health care coverage. This is especially true if you are the only bread winner and there is no other coverage.

My elderly father was recently hospitalized after fainting at home. After 5 days of hospitalization, they finally deduced that he had anemia due to a bleeding ulcer. The cost of the hospital stay … sixty four thousand dollars ($64,000). This didn’t even include the 911 ambulance ride, or the doctor’s visits. Fortunately, for my father he had insurance, which covered most of the cost. Can you imagine someone who could not afford this cost?

Senator Ted Kennedy had additional experiences within his own immediate family. His son Patrick was hospitalized several times for serious asthma attacks and his daughter, Kara, was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2002. Fortunately for both children, their father was able to pay for medical treatment and they are both alive and well today. Without Mr. Kennedy’s health care reform, countless families would not be so lucky.

Mr. Kennedy and actually all of the Kennedy brothers have always been a champion of the common people. He could have chosen easier policies on which to fight and win, but he chose this cause because he knew this is a cause that affects all of us at some point in our lives. We are one of the few industrialized countries without some form of universal health care.

I also just returned from visiting one of my college friends who is terminally ill, also with cancer. For weeks, his insurance company denied him coverage to go to the hospital. Only after pleading with them and telling them how ill he was, did they “grant” him coverage. Then, when it was determined that he only had a few weeks to live, they initially denied him hospice care to live out his short life at home. Why would any sane health care insurance company deny someone a better quality of life, even though it’s been determined that it also saves them money?

Senator Ted Kennedy may well succeed in death as he tried to do in life … to create real health care reform. With the support of Barack Obama’s administration, we could be on our way to creating a country that lives up to its creed of taking care of the poor and the rich, the old and the young, and the uninsured, as well as the insured.

Health Care Reform – Let It Come But Be Ready for Change!

To stir emotions the health care reform debate doesn’t have to peel the onion back very far. There are those who could always afford health insurance and are worried that their costs will significantly rise in the attempt to cover the cost of care for those who have gone without. There are those with numerous and expensive to treat medical problems, who have no health insurance or inadequate health insurance coverage and they need relief, now! And there are those who are healthy, have chosen not to have health insurance, and resent a mandate requiring them to “buy-in” or face monetary penalties.

The Health Care Affordability Act of 2010 is wide in its scope and goals. First, it moves us to a place where most Americans will be covered by health insurance. This will remove “the” key impediment to “routine” health care services for millions of Americans. Subsidies will insure health care insurance regardless of an ability to pay and just because you have pre-existing medical conditions you will still be eligible for “reasonably priced” coverage. Stated another way, insurers will not be able to reject you or drastically increase your premiums if you suffer from chronic illnesses that generate a high level of claims, nor will they be allowed to set dollar limits on health insurance coverage.

To fund these objectives the Health Care Affordability Act requires all Americans to purchase health insurance. There will be subsidies if you are in a low income category and if you have no ability to pay anything you will be eligible for Medicaid as these state level programs will be more accommodating and act as the ultimate safety net. Through its mandates, the law requires millions of healthy individuals to pay into the system. The idea here is that those of us who are not in need of health care will fund those who draw from it. Since any of us can succumb to a health emergency at any time and thus become in need of potentially costly health care interventions those who support the mandate feel that this is fair – we are simply looking out for each other. Next, there are numerous plans in testing phases that are designed to make the delivery of health care more efficient and more cost effective. These pilot programs are being managed by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and include the cooperation of health systems throughout the country. These are complex to say the least and in early development stages and until proven, which is years from now, it is not known what their effect will be.

I support the attempt by the Obama administration and others to get something done on this pressing national issue. But there is a lack of candor about the cost, where the funds will come from, what treatments and medical technologies will be restricted due to very high costs and how the demand of millions of newly insured patients will be managed in terms of timely access to care and treatments. I have spent forty-one years of my life in a medical technology career that focused on global health economics and reimbursement issues and believe me, something will have to give. In every country outside of America, health care budgets are limited and capped. Fees to hospitals and physicians are set, annually reviewed and kept in check and new medical technology prices and access to them are restricted in subtle and not so subtle ways. And if you think that these policies won’t happen in America – think again, as spending limits are being set and will be set and we will have to live within them!

Having said that, let’s continue on with the reforms, some government mandated, some driven by the market place as conservative health policies propose. Just know that we will be dealing with health care reform for a very long time and there are going to be a lot of disillusioned folks along the way, newly enfranchised and otherwise. The emerging health care system will be “more just” but it will require real and noticeable sacrifice from the majority of Americans who heretofore never much worried about the fairness of it all.

My Views As an American Tax Payer and Health Care Reform

First I am not a scholar just a self taught high school graduate who has been paying taxes for over 30 years now. Being that I have lived it I should be able to talk it. I am a Veteran of the United States Air Force, Father of three girls and a grandfather of two little ones.

I have been in business for the last 15 years in a self employed job and am moving into business owner. I feel these things qualify me to deliver this message.

After watching CSPAN on the Thursday Health Care Reform I could not help but listen to the elected officials discuss all the varying issues with the insurance problems? I felt like they were missing the key element to why they were gathered together. The talks are around how to afford health care insurance. Not health care itself but a byproduct of health care business system itself. I want to reiterate this point as the solution to the problem that is being discussed and will be passed into law soon and is not sustainable.

I also listened to Bart Stupak interview Massachusetts Blue Cross who is a profit Health Care Insurance Provider. They said they made.46% profit last year and they just increased their rates. They warned my representative that the way the system is going it will get more expensive and is on a road of not being able to sustain because of the rising costs and abuse of policy holders buying insurance when it is needed.

After listening to my districts Representative Bart Stupak, he did not appear to believe Blue Cross and was attacking them because they are a profit organization unlike the non-profit organizations who painted a different picture of a sustainable Insurance Health Care Reform. As I listened, I heard Blue Cross loud and clear when they said that if the law intended gets passed they will be out of business, and I almost saw tears come out of the eyes of the two women as they said it because you could tell they were talking about something that was very passionate and dear to them. I could tell they were scared, sorry and did not like how things are going.

Time to get real and really talk about the problem! It is not the Insurance Companies. They have done about all they can do and have done a wonderful job to this date to try to make Good Health available to the majority. Insurance companies wanted a perfect world where everyone had care and was paying into the pool to keep the cost of insurance low and affordable to all. Great plan, so why is it in so much trouble and is supposedly a private sector enterprise?

Let me put it simply; Government got involved years ago with a product called Medicaid/Medicare. I can remember when I first saw the new tax being taken out of my pay check back in the mid eighties. They called it an insurance plan when it was actually a tax funded social medicine. And only available to those who qualify! I know when the law went through back then I recognized that I live in the United States and they will not let me die because I am a citizen and cost does not matter to save me. At that time I was empowered to know I would be taken care of no matter what.

I myself have not had insurance through a job since 1982 after the first bush war. The company I worked for lost 10 contracts that year and we were laid off permanently. That company is hanging on by a shoe string right now and all their buildings are up for sale or lease. I got off the subject, but I have not had insurance since then till 1998 when the second bush let me get medical service for a co-pay through the VA for serving my country during peace time. Four years of service is giving me a life time of medical care. I love it, but I don’t see how it will be able to sustain on a co-pay. So I am sure one day the rules will change through legislation and I won’t have it in the future, but I am glad now as I am getting older that I do.

I feel the problem in our health care is not the insurance companies but who the insurance companies are paying. Who is that? Who is controlling the costs? It is not the insurance companies. It is obvious to me who it is and it isn’t just one entity. It is a big business who can charge anything they want, create demand by scarcity and create the amount by specialty or type of service. The Hospitals, Doctors, Medical Suppliers and Pharmaceutical Companies are controlling the costs. There is no guarantee that an Insurance company can control the future or the cost of what a Medical Entity wants or feels the value of a cure is. What is the value of your health, can you put a cost on it?

I was brought up believing that Life does not have a value because it is precious. You can not put a dollar value on life. Someone came along and changed that some years ago and now we do put a value on our health, not our life. As the Medical Entities decide what costs what we will pay till the scarcity of money and clients decline. I do not see anything changing except when Medical Costs exceed what can be paid for just like most things today. As the demand increases for health care we will be driving the costs up unless a cap for the actual cost can exist.

To sum it up, we have some broken cogs in the machine. I can not and will not afford any national health care plan and am looking forward to the day I will get fined, jailed and or denied health care because I don’t qualify. I hope this is not going to be true, but this country is out of whack and the count is off. I hope the Census will bring light to this countries situation and to understand very fast that it maybe too late to fix.

I know more people in my community, county, do not have any insurance and most are on the government plan and are taken care of month after month for a small affordable fee that can not afford. I just hope our leaders really think about what they are doing and what is really going on. I just feel they are in a box thinking and not out of the box thinking.

Here is an out of the box idea. Being I have experienced the VA medical facilities in Michigan and compared to the Private sector Medicine my vote has to go to the VA. The government has a working model and the need to take care of more Veterans is inevitable because we are still at war. The cost has gone up in this sector and is going to increase. The VA has recognized this and in Michigan at this time the VA is expanding the clinics for my regional area. Here is the grand idea, the government should claim public domain and take the Private Medical Entities over and run them like the VA Model.

Believe me! You would not mind it! And in matter of fact you would see efficiency like you have never seen before. I have never waited over 10 minutes for any appointment at any of the VA Hospitals or Clinics. If I am in Florida, California or any state, there is a hospital or clinic I can go to. But, the private sector will not deliver me via ambulance; I have to get their by myself.

I think it has become the day that we need to do something radical. There has been a price put on my life and it has an infinity number that is determined by script in a letter as to what is important and how much it will cost to give me life. Life does have a cost and we are being fleeced. We will be taxed on the new legislation and all legislation has a compromise, fancy words for a new tax as you the tax payer is the compromise. I honestly think that the average American would allow the government to ask for $50 a month from everyone to go to social medical care, after all we are already there, just do it! We do not have a choice when we are in the box!