I was just reading about President Obama’s new push to pass his health care legislation and the republican opposition. It’s an interesting subject.
Supporters believe that every American should have health care. Opponents believe that universal health care means a lower standard of care for everyone and will plunge the country deeper into debt.
Amidst all of the political wrangling, however, there is one group of people who have been all but ignored: the uninsured.
Physicians claim that universal health care will require them to adopt an assembly-line approach to health care. They argue that they will be paid less to see patients, so they will have to see more patients to recoup their losses.
Lobbyists converge upon Washington and make their arguments why universal health care is good or bad for our country, whether it makes fiscal sense or not and how it threatens our democratic way of life.
In the meantime, people are dying from otherwise benign ailments, because they can’t afford an office visit or simple antibiotics.
There are people in this state who have no health care because they are unemployed, yet can’t get Medicaid because of a legislative loophole which disqualifies them. They certainly can’t afford private health care, nor can they afford to go to a doctor on their own.
While politicians and lobbyists jockey for political gain, real people suffer. Here is one of their stories.
Steven is a student at Eastern Michigan University. He is divorced and has two children. He returned to school after becoming disabled because he wanted to finish his degree. Since he couldn’t work, it seemed like a perfect time.
He went to the Department of Human Services to apply for state aid and he applied for disability benefits through Social Security. He was denied for both.
Steven has a good relationship with his ex and they had always taken care of child support between themselves. The state, however, would not approve benefits unless he dragged his ex into court to get a Friend of the Court ruling for child care payments. That also disqualified him from Medicaid or any other benefits.
Steven’s interest in maintaining a positive relationship with his ex for his childrens’ benefit cost him any help from the state.
Social Security, on the other hand, decided that he wasn’t really disabled because he was going to school. The Social Security Administration’s logic is that if he can go to school, he can work, so he doesn’t qualify for disability.
Apparently, the SSA requires disabled people to sit on their butts at home all day long.
Steven has no income, no savings, no assets, and has tapped out his available student loans, so he probably won’t be able to stay in school for very much longer. Of course, he also has no health care.
What happens if he gets sick? What if he slips on ice and breaks his arm? What if any of a million possible freak accidents happens to him?
While physicians’ lobbyist groups complain that universal health care will cost doctors money, a profession that averages a $280,400-per-year salary, because they will be paid less per patient, Steven has nothing. While doctors complain that they will have to see more patients to make up the difference, thereby meaning less individualized attention for each patient, Steven can’t even walk through a doctor’s front door.
Steven’s story is not unique. He is, unfortunately, in the same situation as a growing segment of our country’s population. He would give anything for one-tenth of a doctor’s average salary. He would be grateful for an abbreviated doctor’s visit, because it’s more than he has right now.
Politicians and lobbyists in Washington squabble over political posturing and partisanship while good people go without. These people seem to have lost sight of what really matters, though—the people.
While people can control a lot of things in their lives, whether they get sick or not isn’t one of them. While republicans and democrats bicker over principles, Steven sits at home, waiting and praying he doesn’t get sick.
I would encourage anyone who cares about his fellow Americans to write to your Congressman or Senator and encourage them to put aside partisanship for a moment and do the right thing.
Doctors swear to “remember that (they) remain a member of society, with special obligations to all (their) fellow human beings, those sound of mind and body as well as the infirm,” when they take the Hippocratic Oath.
That seems to be an ideal they have misunderstood or lost sight of. Perhaps it’s time for physicians in this country to look back at that ancient oath and all it stands for, and renew their pledge to do their service for humanity.
Perhaps it’s an ideal we can all aspire to.
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