Despite glee over health care woes, GOP has no real health reform plan
By Michael J. Pramenko
Compassion is not weakness, and concern for the unfortunate is not socialism. — Hubert H. Humphrey
Last Monday, Denver Broncos head coach John Fox underwent heart valve replacement surgery. Prior to his surgery, his physician had apparently discovered the diseased valve and it was believed that it would likely need to be replaced after the 2014 NFL season. Unfortunately, Coach Fox’s condition worsened earlier than expected and the dysfunctional valve began to significantly affect his health.
This story could happen to any one of us. Our health and well-being are not guaranteed. Fortunately for Fox, he earns a sizable salary and no doubt has wonderful health insurance. Now, without having to wait, his condition is being treated in a timely and efficient fashion.
Without treatment, the diseased valve would begin to affect the heart and would eventually lead to congestive heart failure. Then, after multiple years of disability, premature death would follow.
In addition, left untreated, the congestive heart failure and related illness would be much more expensive to treat, compared to the heart valve replacement at an early stage of disease.
By the way, the “junk” insurance that currently is being “canceled” by Obamacare, often does not cover these serious and unexpected health problems.
Look beyond the politics. Look beyond the rhetoric regarding socialism. Look beyond deceit and misinformation. You will find human beings. You will find hard-working men and women without the financial means to purchase health insurance. You will find individuals with pre-existing health conditions that once solidified their standing among the uninsured. You will find families facing bankruptcy while attempting to gain access to life-saving procedures and medications.
Now, in 21st century America, we continue the debate on health reform with little regard to the lives the reform seeks to improve. Roger Ailes of Fox News, the billionaire Koch brothers and Sean Hannity must not know a single person who is uninsured with a life-threatening medical problem. Or, maybe they have simply chosen not to care. The glee and excitement regarding the troubling rollout of the HealthCare.gov website speaks volumes.
Critics act as if there is legitimate counter legislation to Obamacare that would address the issues of pre-existing health conditions and insurance for those who currently can’t afford it. There is not a plan — not even close. A fair analysis of the Republican legislation in the House of Representatives designed to replace Obamacare is just shy of health reform window dressing.
Simply put, there are resources in America more important than oil. There are resources in America more integral to the success of our country than our forests and farms. America’s human resources surpass all others. How we educate and provide health care for our fellow Americans will define America’s future.
Long after President Barack Obama has served his two terms and long after the website woes of October 2013 have passed, our friends and neighbors will face unexpected life threatening health problems, as Fox has.
Do we really believe that only wealthy Americans deserve access to proper medical intervention? Do we really believe citizens should wait until these health problems become emergencies so that they can access health care via our emergency rooms? Are we really that penny-wise and pound-foolish?
The outcome of health reform efforts will answer these questions. It will also answer the question as to which Golden Rule our society subscribes: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” or “The people with the gold make the rules.”
Michael J. Pramenko M.D. is the executive director of Primary Care Partners. He serves on the Club 20 Health Care Reform Committee and is a past president of the Colorado Medical Society.