Diary

An Open Letter and Opinion on Healthcare Reform

Dear Fellow Citizens:

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Some people who receive this may not know me. I have a Masters in mental health counseling as well as a couple certificates in mental health. I now counsel people with developmental and physical disabilities. It was not always like this. You see, I could not breathe when I was born because I was in the wrong position in the womb while being delivered.

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The result was that I sustained brain damage, affecting movement and speech production. I cannot really do anything for myself. I am a person in a wheelchair and have others take care of my needs. Thankfully, my mind was spared and I use it to the best of my ability to help others and contribute back to society. If I can change lives through my experience and efforts, it is all worth it.

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I wish to address the readers about what the Congress and the President are doing now in order to reform health care in this country and what it will specifically mean for people with disabilities and the elderly. Specifically I would like to discuss the public option they keep mentioning. This is frightening once one learns of the details.

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As someone who interfaces with doctors and others in the health care system, I am concerned about the federal government coming between my doctor and me. President Obama and many in Congress want to put a five-member panel in charge of your and my health care decisions. Doctors will not be making decisions on what is best for the patient, but based on some criteria the health board prescribes. I want readers to understand all health care records will be based in Washington, D.C. that a health board will know everything that is done to a patient. Uncle Sam will be watching us.

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The main purpose to this board ultimately will be to ration care. Access to specialists will be limited. This will hit hard, especially those with special needs, such as the elderly, and those under that age group who are disabled. People may have more difficulty accessing durable medical equipment or assistive technology. People may say that their insurance already gives them difficulty when making medical or equipment decisions. At least now people have the right to appeal insurance decisions, sue in court, or pay yourself. When the new public option takes over, and it will, people will not have those options.

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What citizens in these United States have to understand is when 18-50 million new people are included in the insurance system, others in the system already have to be rationed. Why? According to Dick Morris the United States has 5 million doctors to care for 350 million people. We have a shortage of doctors and one cannot even begin to overhaul the system until we address this problem. This will cause additional rationing of health care quality and access, which will hurt the elderly and other people with chronic conditions.

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It is scary to think “end of life counseling” will become mandatory every five years for people 65 years and older no matter what they have tried to suggest to the contrary. Last Spring, President Obama said “the chronically ill and people toward the end of their lives account for 80% of health care costs and that difficult and democratic conversations are going to have to take place to decide who would receive life sustaining care.” It makes you wonder whether our health care system will support life for all or life for some and death for others. Remember, the federal government through the national health board will make such decisions, not you or your doctor. Are you comfortable with such a reality?

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We can reform health care without sacrificing access and quality while protecting special needs populations. I believe tort reform should occur. Health savings accounts should be available. People have to be given the opportunity to pay for basic care while catastrophic coverage should be provided. People should own their own health insurance plan, not their employer, putting the individual in charge of his/her own destiny in the health care system. The medical equipment and assistive technology industries need to be brought in line with cost containment policies including having individuals negotiate with vendors on the price of a particular item and having a trial period before insurance is billed. There are so many ideas we could be doing. It would be cheaper and it would improve access and quality.

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There is hope and it resides in each one of us. Solutions to the health care problem have to come from the bottom up, not the top down. Please join me in writing and calling your Representatives and Senators in the U.S. Congress and even the President himself. Visit your Representatives or their aides. Remind them of some of the simpler ideas to health care reform, which will be more effective in the long run. Tell them their radical idea about taking over health care is unsustainable and will endanger lives. It is they who need to listen, not the other way around. Any Bill that has a public option with a national health board cannot stand. Even though now, they say they will drop the public option in favor of health co-ops, nobody knows what that means yet, especially for people with disabilities and the elderly so now is not the time to become complacent. It is time to take action. Every country that has a socialized system such as the one being considered, has failed. Remind the politicians of this fact. You can tell them if they vote for any Bill that denies freedom of choice in health care decisions of patients and doctors, they will be defeated in the next election and you will work for their opponent to make it happen. People with disabilities are the largest minority in the country — 54 million people have some type of disability (U.S. Census Bureau, 2000; The National Organization on Disability/Harris Interactive – Survey of Americans with Disabilities, 2005; DiversityInc, 2008). It is also the only minority anyone can join at any time: stroke, a car/diving accident, head trauma, sports injury, violence, or other disease. How do you want to be treated if the worst happens? We can defeat the notion of nationalized, single-payer health care (do not let the politicians tell you any differently), but it will only happen if people put sustained pressure on elected officials for the next several months and perhaps beyond. Presently politicians are home for a few more days. Let us make our voices heard now and keep it up America!

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I wrote this letter to help bring attention to the issues of people with disabilities and the negative impact it will have on our population along with the elderly. Ultimately, along with others, I believe this is not about health care, or improving the lives of the people in the United States. It is about who has power and control. Please do not let them take away your freedom or mine to choose what care we receive for our physical and mental health. Thank you for reading.

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Kevin W

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Websites of Interest: www.studentsforlife.org www.defendyourhealthcare.us nypost.com/seven/07242009/postopinion/opedcolumnists/deadly_doctors_180941.htlm fox.news.com/video/index.html?playerId=0110008&streamingFormat=FLASH&referralObject=805241&referralplaylistId=playlist www.youtube.com/watch?v=bLJmxJZXgNI http://thomas.loc.gov/cgibin/querry/z?c111:H.R.3200: www.diversityinc.com/public/4536.cfm www.dickmorris.com