Aug 192009

Sr. Pat Miller

By Sister Pat Miller, CHM

Being a senior citizen and a nurse for many years, I am concerned about having a health care bill that provides access to all, accountability, quality care and cost effectiveness. Health care is not a privilege; it is a right of all citizens.

It really concerns me when there is so much fear and false information about the current proposals. In reviewing HR 3200, the combined three-committee proposal, I found the following that addresses most of the fears I have heard:

• The proposals are not about a government takeover. Rather they guarantee all Americans should have a choice of health care plans they can afford, through a program providing a public or private option.

• None of the proposals in HR3200 prevent individuals from choosing the doctors they wish, or prevent them from getting the necessary care or procedure they need. Age will not determine if one gets care. Judgment will be based on the evaluation of each person’s condition. Our care doesn’t need to be a Cadillac; it just needs to be the right care for each of us.

• According to the proposal, Medicare benefits will not be cut, and out-of-pocket expenses will not be increased. Drugs are always an issue. Many of us take drugs that have no generic counterpart. It is costly. Reduction of drug costs for people in the Medicare Part D coverage gap (donut hole) is addressed in HR3200 so we can afford the drugs we need.

As seniors, many of us are not getting treatments we should because we don’t have health insurance or can’t afford the part we have to pay. Also, if drugs are ordered, their cost may be prohibitive; so we wait until the “Big One” comes and go to the emergency room, when the emergency could have been prevented. This is costly to us and our society!

Those of us on Medicare want health care reform that improves the quality of health care, allows us to keep the doctor of our choice, lowers prescription drug costs and eliminates the billions in waste that is causing poor care and medical errors. The status quo is not acceptable for our citizens and is certainly not sustainable for the future of our country.

Not to fear, fellow seniors; the current HR3200 that includes both the public and private options addresses what we need. The House still has much work before HR3200 is finalized and sent to the Senate, where a healthy debate on the House and Senate versions is necessary for a good bill to emerge. Support for HR3200 has been given by the American Medical Association, the American Hospital Association, the American Nurses Association and the AARP.

(Sr. Miller is a member of the Congregation of the Humility of Mary who lives in Davenport.)

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