August 11, 2009

August 11, 2009
Shining Some Light on Healthcare Reform


Thanks for joining me for another day of my life. It has been a long, hot and humid Tuesday here back in north Florida with high's in the mid 90s.

After my morning protein shake and workout (today was biceps and back), it was time to get ready for our World AIDS Week committee meeting at St. Luke's Community Church. It was great seeing everyone as always. We had a packed agenda and even finally got a theme "United As One". So things are rolling along. I told everyone about needing to call their representatives about the Ryan White funding extension. I was amazed a few were not aware of the sunset date. Hopefully, everyone will forward the information to their contact lists, friends and families.

Now as everyone knows health care reform is a huge topic all over the country. President Obama even did a televised town hall meeting today to help address the hysteria that some groups have caused.

Unfortunately a lot of misinformation is being passed around and causing a lot of worry and tension. So I will regularly be doing blogs helping to dispel some of these myths.

Now for this week's Whopper:

Myth! Health reform means a government "death panel" of bureaucrats will ration your health care based on your "productivity to society."

For example, no one age 60 or older would qualify for an operation to implant a stent to prevent a heart attack.

Fact: Nothing in the legislative proposals before Congress would prohibit stent implants for people age 60 or older or impose any other form of government health rationing.

First, none of the Congressional proposals would give government officials the power to deny you treatment or to control your doctor's treatment decisions. There would be no "death panels." None of the legislation allows government officials to make treatment decisions based on your "productivity to society." (See what the Pulitzer-Prize-winning Politifact.com has to say about this Whopper, which got the "Pants On Fire" rating reserved for the most outrageous political lies.)

In fact, health care reform proposals before Congress would eliminate some forms of health care "rationing" the private insurance market engages in now. Congress's health care reform proposals would prohibit insurers from denying care based on pre-existing conditions, ban lifetime benefit caps and require that insurers allow you to renew your policy if you get sick in the middle of a year.

Think about this: The cost of treating some forms of cancer can easily exceed $1 million. Today's health insurance laws let insurers cap lifetime benefits. If you need extra care after that point, you are on your own. By that time, cancer patients are often exhausted, financially and physically, by their battles against their illness.

Health reform proposals would ban both annual and lifetime caps on health care benefits, stop insurers from denying coverage for pre-existing conditions, and stop insurers from blocking you from renewing your policy if you get sick in mid-year.

Health care proposals now before Congress also guarantee free preventive care under Medicare, eliminating copayments and deductibles you must pay now.

Some opponents of health care reform base their claims about rationing on proposals to use "comparative effectiveness" research. This research looks at the effectiveness and cost of various treatment options -- for example, does Pill A treat Disease X better than Pill B? The truth is, nothing in the health-reform legislation before Congress would require your doctor to use less-expensive treatments or to deny you care. Doctors can suggest better treatments for patients if they have full information about treatment options. (Read what the New England Journal of Medicine had to say about comparative effectiveness research.)

Those are my thoughts. What about yours? Drop me a line and let me know.

Until we meet again; here's wishing you health, hope and happiness.



Big bear hug,



Daddy Dab