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It's Time Congress Stands Up to Insurance Companies

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The ineffectiveness of the US Congress has been very apparent the past several years. They seem to be more worried about taking down incumbent presidents, thrashing high-ranking cabinet members on their way out, and doing away with Obama-care at any cost. But I've yet to see what it is they offer up to the American people in return. There are numerous issues that plague the US from a lackluster economy to equality for all, but one huge issue is the problem with the medical insurance system

People complain about a socialistic government that takes on medical benefits for its citizens, but what is our congress doing to offer up solutions? There are so many examples of hard-working Americans that have been kicked to the curb when it comes to medical assistance - all because of insurance companies. 

A young athlete, Arash Bayatmakou, had a horrific accident, which damaged his spinal cord and left him paralyzed. He's slowly but successfully determined to walk again one day, but it's...one-step-at-a-time...literally and figuratively. He's come across as a blip in the way our medical system handles people like himself with Spinal Cord Injury.  Instead of getting the time needed to fully rehabilitate his body (and mind), insurance companies are looking to cut costs every corner they can. Arash's experience was not one of, "We'll work with you 'till you're walking again." It was basically, "We'll work with you 'till you no long have to take up a hospital bed." The medical system of today is less concerned about Arash's potential for true recovery and healing of the body and places more emphasis on him adapting to his 'new life' and simply accepting his new circumstances.  Arash comments, "Since I left the hospital, I have been given a grand total of ONE hour a week of physical therapy." 

A similar thing occurred with author Arthur Wooten. When he was diagnosed with severe vestibular disease, robbing his body of any sense of balance and stability, he went through a period where walking was nearly impossible. After one physical therapy session at the Rusk Institute, the premiere rehab/physical therapy institution in NYC to assist in getting him back on his feet, his insurance denied coverage for the treatment that would allow him to function properly again saying, "The request for vestibular rehab cannot be approved. This treatment modality is considered investigational and thus not covered." They went on to say, "The rehab is investigational." Yet his team of healthcare professionals all wrote to his insurance company pleading them to cover his desperately needed rehabilitation. He eventually found the help he needed himself and paid for it out of pocket. "We are headed towards Universal Healthcare," Wooten says, "which I feel is a good thing. I have friends who live in the UK and are pleased with their public funded healthcare system which provides the help their citizens need to stay healthy and vital." He agrees with Arash in that privatized healthcare insurance companies are out to protect their legal liability. "Where is the humanity?" Wooten asks. "Basically, this is allowing the insurance provider the power to decide treatment."

Photographer Jen Burgess Thompson was named 2012 Woman of the Year by The Source Weekly while publicly fighting stage 4 ovarian cancer and sharing her battle on a blog. Numerous bouts of chemo were needed and then a clinical trial at Mayo in Minnesota meant thousands of dollars needed that were not covered by insurance. The 37-year-old single mother of two had to use all her strength to fight the cancer (as so many around the word do) and shouldn't have to worry about the added stress of cost associated with it. Like so many people fighting cancer, the costs can add up so quickly that many end up going through all of their savings. Numerous organizations took to social media to raise funds for Jen, but sadly she lost her battle in October of 2012.

These are but a few examples of people that represent so many others that are constantly fighting with insurance companies: companies that shouldn't be dictating our medical care. So when is Congress going to finally do something about this problem? Or do they not care because the Americans are not those in their immediate family? If they are going to complain about what the POTUS recommends or what their constituents bring to them as issues, then they should at least come up with an alternative for citizens - a bipartisian alternative that doesn't end with patients being told "no". Anyone can complain about the issues (which I understand...it is what I'm doing here), but the three I mention here only represent thousands of others fighting the system while also fighting for some semblance of a normal life.