Post Highlight: Monday there was a community discussion, at the request of the Obama transition project on health care, sponsored by Council Speaker Christine Quinn at New York City hall.
The news worthy items: Tom Daschle is working on health care reform to begin on inauguration day. They'll take the tape to him for review, then it'll be posted on YouTube.
Monday I trooped down to City Hall for the first time. To take part in a community discussion. The Obama Transition Project is engaging citizens to speak up and out, about their thoughts and desires. To shape our broken health care system. Council Speaker Christine Quinn gave opening remarks -- the standard variety -- various Representatives popped in, waved, exited swiftly.
What made it unique was the setting, that Tom Daschle had not only encouraged the meeting, but was going to view the tape of the earnest videographer. Then they warned it would go to YouTube. The organizer was Carole B. Reiss, a PhD Candidate, who energetically hoped, that the new administration was planning, a whole new approach to health care, from the first day in office. She seemed to think this was their first priority.
The room was filled with community organizers and activists. Notably missing: anyone from the mainstream health practice. There were advocates from those for alternative medicine to therapists and dentists. Actors Equity showed strong, with a new Broadway star who shared her experience working with her husband as they played their favorite health care game "Chasing Health Care," where they tried to insure continual coverage for their family. She needed a dentist that would take their plan.
The discussion opened with a breast cancer survivor, who's recovering. She didn't have coverage at the time, when the lump struck, yet was able to work the system and help herself, she dedicated her time and effort to free surgery and impressing the need for her to well, recover from cancer! She sat in many offices and talked to many surgeons with confidence convincing them to help her fight the disease. She also had experience in health care. She talked about the funds on reserve that insurance companies enjoyed. Providing deep discounts on the back of the little guy and small business. She ruminated correctly, wondering about all the people that did not have her skill or knowledge to navigate the complicated bureaucracy.
I perked up, trying to be unique and less redundant. Asked for an improvement in our food supply, alluding to Alice Walker and her work at Berkeley, wondering if what we put in our body couldn't keep us out of the hospital. Yet the breadth of the challenge truly does make me dumbfounded. Many of the attendees were willingly concerned with exercise, breakfast for children and the vast array of services not provided by the current health system.
A middle aged lady wheeled up to the microphone, angry about Medicare D and its complicated implantation. While soiled bags limped from her sides.
Others about the vast array of possible prices for the very same pharmaceutical ranging from $12 - $225. At the crux of the challenge seemed to be the for-profit model we're reliant on. The fact that the deciders of the nations health policy are the mega corporations that must behold to their wealthy shareholders. The fact that only the wealthy can provide adequate coverage for themselves, and the wealthy are now fewer and fewer.
People with far greater problems then mine. Seemed confident and strong that their voice would be heard. Some little old ladies, that could barley walk, spoke for reform. Taxi cab drivers who make $7.50 an hour and work 60-80 hours a week called for change. My only concern: there were not enough people there. Obama seems bent on giving citizens access to government and encouraging us to speak out. This is how we must do it. I truly hope, that Tom Daschle does listen, that these are not empty words from a new government that is inheriting too many problems.
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