Saturday, March 20, 2010

UPDATE: Healthcare Vote Tomorrow: Another Story, and What You Can Do


It does make a difference. Two Blue Dogs in the San Joaquin Valley here in California just announced that they will vote yes tomorrow. Granted, some back room wheeling and dealing went on (water for the valley, of course, but a significant issue here), but constituent pressure WORKS!


Tomorrow is the day. Congress votes on health insurance reform and it is close. Amazingly, it is still close. The Republican noise machine remains effective at clouding the issue and spreading its lies. Using fear as their primary tactic, they convince many people that this bill will cause significant damage to the U.S. economy and to their individual lives. The reality, is that 95% of us will see no difference from this bill.

If you need one more story to convince yourself or someone else, here is a story I read a few minutes ago on Salon dot com. Cary Tennis, a columnist for Salon, who has written an advise column for them for years has been battling a very rare form of cancer. After successful surgery, he has been advised to have proton beam radiation therapy which while rare, is the standard of care for this rare type of cancer (sacral chordoma). Any guesses on what his insurance company, Blue Cross, decided on the request for pre-approval? Request denied, or in Cary's words, "drop dead."

Cary has been blogging about his experiences, but says he tried not to use his position in the media for personal benefit. After the denial of care, he decided to share his problem with his readers and requested that they contact Blue Cross on his behalf hoping that a groundswell of support would help change their mind. Unfortunately, without claim numbers and other personal details, navigating the system is difficult at best and unlikely to accomplish much (anyone who has ever tried to call an insurance company knows the first thing you have to provide before moving through the automated telephone system is a social security number and/or a claim number).

The reason that I am writing this today, is that in among the overwhelming support generated in the comments, one commenter stood out.

Friday, March 19, 2010 11:49 AM

Crucial distinction

"denied the request for this treatment."
No - Blue Shield denied your request for *payment* of this treatment.
NB – I’m passing absolutely no judgement [sic] on the situation one way or another and certainly don’t wish anyone to suffer unduly because they are unable to afford medical treatment, but the difference between denying treatment and denying payment for treatment is an important distinction to make, especially in the context of ObamaCare.

And this is the result of the Republican public relations campaign of the past forty years, and the intensity of their attacks on health care reform of the past year. The success of the astroturfed "Tea Party" movement is a case in point as ignorant Americans are led to a belief that is against their own best interests. What Ramesees above fails to understand (and is pointed out by many other commenters in response), is that denial of *payment* is denial of treatment. Expensive treatments require pre-approval and is not provided without it. I have been denied chemotherapy by Blue Cross (anyone remember when they used to be a non-profit?) and believe me, it is an incredible feeling to realize that accountants are making my healthcare decisions instead of my doctors. And people worry about a government takeover of healthcare.

So, if you have not already contacted your Representative, please do so now. If you have friends, family, neighbors, or others who you know are against this bill, please share this story with them as an example of why we need reform. Will reform solve this particular problem? Maybe. Maybe not. But it will establish a foundation for future reforms. Social security and Medicare did not begin as they are now; they evolved over time on a basic foundation that provided the minimum. What I do know, is that without this bill, there will be nothing to build on, nothing to fix, and the 95% of us who are doing fine with our healthcare now, will be significantly less in the future as healthcare takes a larger and larger share of our economy.

If you do not know how to contact your Representative, or who he or she is, find that information here.

Thanks for stopping by. Come back soon.

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