I have one criteria for a successful healthcare reform bill. I want it to be crazy about life.
I have been very remiss about discussing it on my blog but as a cancer patient in the trenches, I have watched the debate with interest. A very disturbing discussion caused me to break my silence on the subject here because it related so much to what I have learned on my cancer journey. Politically, I'm an independent. I am Red on some issues. Blue on some issues and Purple on some issues. Political quizzes define me as Libertarian. I believe in the power of the individual and have witnessed throughout my journey, the beautiful things ONE person with passion can do. I have been shown first hand by all who I have met that life is beautiful and that everyone, regardless of who they are, rich, poor, disabled, young and old are threads in the tapestry that forms our Earth. When it comes to who I would trust with my life, I would trust my neighbor more than I would trust my Congress person. I think HR3200 is a terrible bill and I think we, as Americans can do better. We can come up with a uniquely American solution that will result in better access to a good plan, open up choices, preserve the jobs of 17% of our GDP, and does not force Dr.'s to become government employees. I do not want my personal medical info in the hands of the Federal Government more than it has to be to preserve my right to privacy and I can write volumes on how Government might stand in the way of the Right to Life guaranteed by the Constitution. On Friday, I responded to a status posting of a friend of mine regarding healthcare. He is very far left in his political viewpoint. I simply wrote that I am not anti reform. I am anti HR3200. I would also like the access to experiemental drugs preserved for those like me who have no other options because we have such rare diseases. My comment was met with a snide reply from another poster blasting me for supporting the demonic insurance industry and implied that my care should be put squarely in the hands of the American taxpayers to decide what kind of care I should have. This individual went onto say that everyone should have no better than Medicare and to cut costs, rationing should be implemented. Senior citizens and those with terminal diagnosis should be offered palliative care ONLY. They no longer have any worth to society and treating these individuals is not worth the cost to society. When I pulled my jaw off the floor, I decided it was time to walk away from the conversation for a bit and let the words of a self proclaimed compassionate human being who cares only of society, sink in.
This is an idea I have heard before. It was debated at length on a blog I used to follow. A grieving mother who had lost a child to Sarcoma, surmised that if those worthless seniors accepted the palliative care and not life saving treatment, more research dollars could have been allocated to pediatric cancer research. She devised an algorithm that spat out Return on Investment when we spend money on treatments for those nearing end of life. I ask who are we to decide the worth of a human life? How can we say that a senior who is 80, who may have helped build bridges, who may have developed a life saving surgery, who may be a beloved grandfather to many grandchildren is worth less than a 30 year old pimp and deserves nothing more than to be hauled in the back to be shot like an old dog. As he blasted insurance companies for putting a dollar amount on a human life, I pointed out he did the same thing. That isn't reform. When push comes to shove, I argued, a parent whose last option is an experimental treatment, would accept a smaller house or car to procure that treatment. His program trades health insurance for health CARE. He said I was delusional. If only he sees what I see every day in the cancer community.
I have seen spaghetti dinners, golf tournaments, corn hole toss tournaments, marathons, pancake breakfasts, concerts, chocolate sales, bake sales, arm band sales, shop and share programs, and church fundraisers set up to financially assist families struggling with the cost of treatment. I have seen parents sell their houses, sell their cars, because the life of their loved one is not replaceable. Houses and cars are.
I have seen Dr's donate their time regardless of ability to pay.
I have seen hospitals forgive debts.
I have seen neighbors family and friends come together to pray.
I have seen nurses, donate their expertise.
I have seen clinics donate vaccinations.
I have seen acts of great beauty in terrible situations.
I saw a world come together to support Erin and Joel DeSouza. When they mourned we mourned. Maura was priceless.
I saw people come together to support Elsa raise funds for the cancer program at Dana Farber.
That, my friends, is health CARE.
Congress should write a plan that they themselves would use. Perhaps when considering the value of their own lives, we'll get somewhere.