Thursday, October 4, 2007

Health care crisis

Health care is a big issue in the media these days. Lots of folks are talking about crowded emergency rooms, lack of funding, and increasingly expensive insurance rates and co-pays. I myself am aggravated by this issue, especially who believes in a national health care plan. I was talking with a parishioner today who had been to the ER (the one here in town has a reputation for being especially bad with 3-8 hour waits to even get in to be seen and then 6-18 hour waits to get moved upstairs to a bed). She, as an 89 year old woman who had had a stroke was left waiting in the waiting room from 10 at night until 3 or so in the morning before. Let's just say she was not terribly pleased with that. Coupled with her frustration were "loud and rowdy" families who were eating, going in and out, and loud, AND whose loved one was taken in before her. Her complaints echoed the stereotypes screaming out in the media--*they* just come here because they don't want to pay a doctor, because the care is free, because, because, because. I tried to explain a bit of the current problem to her (lack of insurance, lack of preventative care, ER visits only when the problem is exceedingly bad...), but she wasn't quite prepared to hear it. The conversation ended with her saying she was "happy in [her] own little world" and "there's nothing we can do about it." Aside from being frustrated by her relative indifference, I was thoroughly frustrated that there's nothing she thinks we can do about it. Of course there's something we can do about it. We live in a democratic country where we vote on laws, can petition to amend laws and vote on the government officials who create, amend, and vote on laws. So how is it that we can't do anything about it?!!?

Coupled with this frustration is the fact that our entire annual conference has argued, squabbled, and debated over our health care plan (especially for our retirees) and how we can't afford health care. Each year we seem to pass the same resolution--we'll tell our representatives to do something...well, I don't know if anyone else has noticed, but our representatives do not seem to be doing a whole heck of a lot with this. And as someone who has worked on public policy and lobbied about it and received the same canned answers about why my opinion doesn't matter, I'm pretty sure they're not quite ready to make the necessary changes. Not without a lot of public pressure that is. So, tell me again, why it is we can't seem to get organized to analyze the current policy, review other possibilities, and create a health care reform proposal?!?!

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