I met a University of Utah physician. He commented "It seems like we don't cure patients anymore. We take care of insurance and pharmaceutical companies."
Shortly thereafter, I read several articles in the Standard-Examiner:
March 24: "The best health care in the world" column, with the writer lamenting his long search to unsuccessfully get health insurance until the "socialist" program of Medicare came to his rescue.
March 26 editorial: "More access to health care" wherein the editors point out important changes in the current health care act that are benefiting families and young adults and should not be abandoned.
March 27: "Obamacare a sinking ship" by Sen. Orrin Hatch, stating that the health care act needs to be repealed in its entirety
March 28: "Seniors" section, stating that the many wellness and preventive services which the new health care act now covers, free of charge to Americans, 65 and older, will help add years to their lives.
Sen. Hatch, in his column, says, "If the Democrats will not let us repeal Obamacare wholesale right now, we will do so retail through death by a thousand cuts."
Does this sound like the words of a leader or a senior statesman? Or, an individual without compassion? He and his family have benefited from the best government-provided healthcare that we the public paid for and will continue to pay for even after he leaves office. And he wants to go back to the days when 47 million of us were not insured and being played with by insurance companies for cancellations due to "prexisting conditions," high premiums, etc.
I recall the words of Dr. Mehmet Oz who was one of 700 doctors, nurses and volunteers treating patients at a free clinic in Houston's Reliant Center in 2010. "They came as entire families. Many drove hours to get there; others hitchhiked. I walked out at 5 a.m. and greeted the first woman in line, a working school teacher, who could not keep up with her insurance payments. Think about it for a moment -- sitting on a pavement at 5 a.m. in the dark, waiting for a massive convention center to open just to see a doctor. This is what it has come to, and it should frustrate you as it does me. So many patients had tragic stories that still burn in my heart. Most were embarrassed to seek help and many felt invisible in society, like they didn't matter anymore."
What Sen. Hatch says might play well in this lopsidedly Republican state of ours. In a 2008 Harvard School of Public Health survey, 45 percent of the people believed that the U.S. did not have the best health care system in the world. But when the results were broken down by party affiliation, 68 percent of Republicans claimed U.S. superiority compared to only 32 percent of the Democrats. More than half of the Democrats -- 52 percent -- believed that other countries had better health care systems, a belief shared by only 19 percent of the Republicans.
As an average American who has recently gone on Medicare after paying exceedingly higher and higher premiums each year, my thoughts on medical care are very simple:
1. I do not want to be denied health care because of a pre-existing condition.
2. I want my premiums to be as low as possible, achievable when everyone pays into the system.
3. I want my children to be covered by my premiums until such time they are financially able to afford the premiums themselves, typically around the age of 25 when they graduate and get employment.
4. I am convinced insurance companies add no value to healthcare. They are purely driven by profit and greed. I would like to see an act where they are not allowed to profit in health care. A public option would keep them in line.
5. I want my doctor and I to be the decision-makers -- not an insurance company.
6. I want my doctor's time freed up to care for me rather not his justifying decisions to an insurance company.
7. I want all facets of my care covered: physical, dental, eye care, mental health, etc.
8. I believe in health care reform because what we had before this year was an abomination. I also believe that it can be continually improved by focusing on items that are costly and unpopular and expanded on items that are working. No bill is perfect when it is first passed.
I want our politicians to live under the same rules as I do, without any exemptions. It would be nice to have an amendment to the constitution that says "Congress shall make no laws that apply to the citizens of the United States that does not apply equally to the Senators and/or Representatives; and Congress shall make no laws that apply to the Senators and/or Representatives that does not apply equally to the citizens of the United States."
Our politicians have become an elitist society, not our public servants. Wouldn't it be nice if Sen. Hatch would spend his time trying to figure out why France has the best health care system in the world for five years running and help us implement their features rather than obsessing about how to tear down Obama?
Kulkarni lives in Perry.