MY WORD: Let’s be clear about health-care problem

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By Jean A. Stodghill

Last week in The Sentinel-News, there were many responses to the health-care debate, telling us all about the health-care reform and why it must be defeated. As one who knows health care intimately and at its most basic level, let me give you the reasons it must/should be implemented.

We are the only modern, industrialized nation on earth without an all-inclusive, comprehensive health-care plan to cover all of its citizens. This reveals a cold indifference to members of a wide segment of our population who have the misfortune of losing their jobs and therefore their health-care insurance because of layoffs or serious illnesses. This can happen to any one one of us, and these two elements (job+health insurance) should never be inseparably paired.

The problem is easy enough to minimize or ignore if you occupy a political office at the top of the medical caste system because you don’t see it every day. It is unlikely you will ever lose your health insurance even if you lose your position.

I do see it every day in a local community health-care clinic. I have patients who lose their jobs because they can’t afford to have their gallstones removed, and they are too ill to go to work. I have patients who can’t perform their jobs because of bad knees they cannot get treated.

I have some patients with broken bones who have no resources to see an orthopedist. The result for some of them is permanent disability.

I have invited numerous persons of political persuasion to come visit our clinic and talk with some of these patients, but none of them ever come by. I don’t think they want to see this; it would be like admitting there might be a problem.

Partisan-generated fiction is being taught as truth. I once attended a health-care providers meeting in Shelbyville. The speaker, from a well known political office, who was a talented and obviously intelligent man, claimed that anyone could buy health-care insurance.

His story goes that on a stretcher to the operating room, one could call any commercial health-care insurer via cell phone, ask to be covered and be automatically covered. Then two weeks later upon leaving the hospital, one could just call the health-care insurer and drop the insurance and, voila, the coronary artery bypass graft was covered for only 2 weeks’ cost of premiums.

I am not kidding, this actually happened. I have witnesses. This man has either has no clue about the reality of health-care insurers, or he is deliberately spreading deception. He also declined a visit to our clinic. 

This brings me to the most disturbing writing by Mitch McConnell (“Why health-care law must be defeated,” My Word, July 18). He continues to bash the affordable health-care act with charges that it must be repealed and then the Republicans will implement “common-sense, step-by-step reforms that protect Americans’ access to the care they need from the doctor they choose at a lower cost.”

I would ask him which Americans? Those Americans that already have health insurance? What about the 600,000 Kentuckians who don’t have it? If this health-care bill is repealed, it will delay for years any hope of help for these people.

Senator McConnell, what are your proposed common-sense, step-by-step solutions? I have been waiting for decades to hear your plan; all I ever hear is vague generalities and plans to rip apart any meaningful change.

Our health-care system is seriously flawed when one CEO of a well-known health insurance company received $240 million in one year in salary and perks. This has caused the skyrocketing cost of health care, not President Obama’s attempt to fix it. A universal health-care plan did not cause bankruptcy in Germany, England or Canada. It won’t be the cause of bankruptcy in the United States either.

Our national debt, which is now huge, was spent on almost anything and everything exceptuniversal health care.

On the contrary, a nation of healthy, productive citizens, able to work, not living on disability and having their health-care needs met long before they become disabled would bring the U.S. back to the economic strength it once had.

There is only gain when a moral, ethical wrong is corrected.                                             


Jean  A Stodghill is an advanced practice registered nursewho lives in Shelbyville.