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LOCAL VOICES: Health care reform the better way

Commentary • Apr 19, 2010 at 2:15 AM


Registered Health Information Technologist, Lacarne, Ohio

The passage of the health care reform bill is the beginning of a long struggle. It is a victory and a challenge.

I am thankful for its passage and hopeful for its success. We, as Americans, need to take care of ourselves and each other. There are things we need to do to become and stay healthy. Along with maintaining a optimal weight and being free of smoking and drinking to excess, we need to be able to maintain our own mental health. I am happy that with this bill, those seeking mental health care will not be turned away.

Under the former "plan" diabetics or those with end stage renal disease, for example, get insurance coverage, while those with mental health "issues" (as they are often termed) would be lucky to receive any assistance at all. Among these are some returned troops that so many tout support (perhaps only when they are at war).

I am also hopeful that all will take heed and reduce and reuse. I know waste is rampant. I also know that infectious disease and resistant strains to bacteria are mutating as I write. Is placing something "contaminated" after one use into a red bag, then placing it in a red trash bin for pick up & incineration really the solution? Does that really solve the problem? I know nurses laugh about the "old days" when gloves were not used and bed pans were stainless steel. I am not suggesting we go all the way back, but have we gone too far? One suture is snipped with a pair of sterile scissors, then it is thrown away.

Some of these same nurses go to weeklong "missions," treating many with much less. Why should we Americans use such a greater portion of the earth's resources and add to it such a huge lot of unbiodegradable and even hazardous waste to its surface and atmosphere? Is it because of some protocol?

If we could reduce all the many different forms from the many different insurance plans that would save so much bureaucracy! True, many jobs would be lost. We wouldn't need to shuffle through all of the paper or look at all of the computer screens. Hopefully, we could employ the paper shufflers, some of whom are paid specifically to find pre-existing conditions in order to deny claims, to do something more productive.

I have worked in a hospital for nearly 30 years and have seen it go through many changes. I have had to "accept the waste." It IS protocol. It is my job.

I am encouraged that each line item is going to be examined and spending will be eliminated where it is not needed.

If we could convince people to accept death, for example, and allow their family members to die without the extensive use of "intensive care," health care dollars would be saved nationwide. No, it is not playing God, turning "grandma's" ventilator off. Rather, we are accepting and allowing God. Intensive care does a great service, but people need to know when to let go.

We know health care cannot prevent death. It can only prolong life.

I thought the nation would be as happy as I am at the passage of the heath care reform bill. I urge those who oppose to reconsider. Health care WAS rationed before to people on Medicare/Medicaid, Veterans and to those lucky enough to have a job with insurance coverage. People now can have a family doctor and maintain their health, lessening the load on emergency rooms nationwide. We pay for it both ways. This is the better way.


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