The health of a people is vital to the health of a nation. As the White House announces President Obama's plan to post his version of the Health Care Bill on the internet, many Californians face a 25-39% increase on health insurance premiums and several state governors plan Medicaid cuts. It's time to start talking about real solutions to real problems and face the fact that health care reform and health insurance reform will only work when we communicate openly about the core issues. Changes in the system are happening anyway and they are not headed in a beneficial direction for Americans. My vote is to open this for true public debate. Let's explore the components of the bill and see what makes sense. There are too many stories that illustrate what is not working -- let's find out what the majority of Americans need and want. Currently this health care debate is resting in the laps of people who have quality health care coverage and are more concerned with filling their campaign coffers than finding solutions that serve the people. I'd like to begin by offering two points that strike me as valuable.
1) By lumping all the many complex facets of health care into one bill it becomes easier for politicians to oppose the bill in its entirety. A number of points might have passed already had they not been contained in this behemoth. We must break down the bill and write legislation that regulates health insurance companies. A separate bill should consider the benefits of opening up the free market to allow US citizens to purchase prescription drugs from outside of our boarders, where they are less expensive. One by one we can tackle the many issues facing our country today. For example, childhood obesity, diabetes, and nutrition go hand-in-hand. These issues must be considered through the lens of education, school lunch regulation, social services, and community programs, not negotiated along side government funding of abortion or a possible public option. While the issues are related, they are too multi-dimensional to be combined.
2) Add prevention to the mix -- simple, true prevention. Write legislation that saves patients and care givers time, pain, and money over time. Currently we have a very short-sited idea of health care reform, focused on cutting costs today without considering the outcome. A perfect example of this is the proposed Medicaid cuts in Nevada (as reported in the NY Times) that would include saving $829,304 by reducing the number of diapers provided monthly to incontinent adults (to 186 from 300). Parents and health care workers can explain what happens when an individual sits in waste for a prolonged period of time: open sores and infections ensue. The state would likely spend much more on treating the outcome of such a plan than it currently spends on the preventative measure -- providing an adequate number of diapers. We must consider policies from every angle. In this case, other options could include alternative vendors for adult diapers that cost less, or reusable, washable options may exist.
Developing ideas around prevention and better care begins with creativity. A good use of time and resources might be bringing in fresh thought leaders to work on simple solutions for our health care problems. I am happy President Obama is taking this very forward-thinking stand. I hope his actions wake up the masses and get us talking, writing and thinking about the ways we can individually and collectively make changes in health care. We are the ones who will benefit or suffer under this system. The question to ask yourself is: do you want a voice in your personal health and the quality of care available to you? Lastly we must acknowledge that we are not talking about abstract hypothetical issues. The health care issue touches every single person in this country -- period.
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