Health Care Reform – No Time for Silence

Not Time To Hide

Not Time To Hide

As I mentioned in yesterday’s blog, I think the time has come for this blog to enter the national dialogue regarding health care reform.  This is no time for silence.  The stakes – moral, economical, political – are too high.  And this is aside from and subordinate to the health of the American people with implications for all of us as well as for national security.  I decided to engage the blog several days ago.  I was watching television news coverage of the fierce shouting at regional town hall meetings.  So much anger, so many exaggerations and misconceptions.

I am fascinated by the Sarah Palin phenomenon and I think she is always interesting to watch.  But when I heard about her recent reference to “death panels”, I felt that the blog had the responsibility to present some objective information about the current health care proposals being put forth.

I think that the cancer blogging community has had more experience with the healthcare system than most.  We have all spent time in multiple physician offices, being shuttled around from clinic to clinic.  We have met more than our fair share of surgeons and specialists.  We have spent innumerable days in intensive care units, on hospital wards and in cold, quiet radiology suites for Ct scans, MRIs, PET scans, and the like.  We have winced as countless vials of blood have been drawn.  So we know what is at stake.  We know how complicated the system is with referrals, waitinf for test results, calls to insurance companies, and stacks of bills and EOBs (explanation of benefits) arriving daily in our mailboxes.  And some of us, those who have been denied payment for therapeutic procedures such as chemo or even a bone marrow transplant, know that healthcare in this country is already rationed by insurance companies.  These insurance companies are being managed by CEOs who are paid tens of millions of dollars in salary and bonuses for keeping payments low.

I am fortunate and have always been lucky enough to have good coverage (though I think they may have had to fudge when coding my extremely rare leukemia for payment).  But I know of plenty of people whose lives and financial futures have been devastated by a cancer diagnosis.  Lately I have noticed that some of my fellow bloggers have stepped forth with the same idea.  Even my city’s conservative newspaper yesterday featured on the top half of the front page a clarification of three top misconceptions – “Does the legislation incliude provisions to encourage euthansia for senior citizens?”  “Will the government start paying for abortions?” and “Will illegal immigrants receive free health care?” (“Healthcare:  What To Believe?” The Indianapolis Star, August 11, or The Los Angeles Times)

So what I propose is that Friday posts will be given over to dialogue. It will be a forum for sharing views and opinions on this critical issue.  In addition I am launching a new “Health Care Reform” page.  This will feature not so much opinions as sources of information, references and resources meant to inform the discussion.

I will begin this series with a guest post from Lucy Wiley who writes at: Lucysnoidblog

~ The health care reform bill – read it here

Here’s a link to the summary of what is in the proposed bill for health care reform. There is so much wrong and radical in the commentary on this subject, I thought I would provide access straight from the record.


As you will see, there is an enforcement provision which will pretty much make everyone have health insurance. I see this as a GOOD thing. Why? Because we need it. Everyone needs it. You must have insurance to operate a car. It’s required by law because given the choice, lots of us would much rather buy a big-screen TV, take a vacation or purchase life-saving treatments.

Is it going to cost? Sure. But we are paying for the same care in a less efficient manner now. Folks without health insurance go to the emergency room for even routine matters and minor ailments. Who do you think picks up the tab? We do. Otherwise, hospitals and healthcare professionals would vanish overnight.

You will see in the summary there is nothing about euthanasia for oldsters or anybody else. There is a sensible, long over-due addition to what we call health insurance as it is provided in the US. The Bill itself is changing at this moment – so nobody (including the President) can say for sure what it will be in its final form.

Today, I saw a shocking display of ignorance on television as several political figures were “shouted down” by folks who obviously have something besides health care on their minds. Had they really wanted to know about the proposed legislation – they would have listened to what was being said. They could have asked questions in an intelligent manner and perhaps still might disagree and refuse to support the Bill. Let’s be honest – these are the same folks who insist Obama is a Muslim, that he was not born in the US, that our country can’t afford to provide healthcare for all of its citizens.

As I see it, the current state of health care has become a huge drain on each and every citizen in the US. I am so grateful that my spouse has a job with benefits that cover most of what I need. But the situation is seriously messed up. We still have to pay 20% of all costs and that adds up in a hurry when you are trying to stay alive with a life-threatening illness.

A prolonged hospital stay with surgery involved could wipe us out, financially. I’m not the only one. And if my spouse loses his job, I will be uninsurable because of a pre-existing condition. If nothing else comes of the health care reform Bill, getting rid of that loophole would be a huge gain for anybody with cancer.

from Lucysnoidblog


About Dennis Pyritz

Dennis W. Pyritz, RN, BA, BSN, has been a cancer nurse since 1987 and a cancer and bone marrow transplant survivor since 2004. In December 2001 he was diagnosed with t-cell prolymphocytic leukemia (T-PLL), a rare aggressive form of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). Dennis was treated with the then new monoclonal antibody, alemtuzumab (Campath) as this disease has a median survival of 7.5 months. He achieved a 26 month remission but relapsed in February 2004. He was retreated with Campath and went into a second remission. In August 2004 he underwent an allogeneic peripheral blood stem cell transplant with his brother, Mark, as donor. Dennis has remained in remission since - a near miracle. Throughout his career as cancer nurse and patient, Dennis has had the opportunity to speal to both lay and professional groups. Dennis has spoken on cancer topics and survival issues across the country as well as in the United Kingdom, Norway, Austria, Portugal, Honduras, Panama, Guatemala, Trinidad, United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Cyrpus, Israel, and India.


Health Care Reform – No Time for Silence — 1 Comment

  1. At this point, although the debate and spin continue, this bill is essentially dead from an emotional and mandate perspective, even if some version gets passed. Whether it ultimately proves to be of any benefit to society, or a detriment, will take years, if not decades, to appreciate.

    This bill, and virtually anything that might be done to improve our healthcare system, involves too much complexity with which we are emotionally motivated to deal. In addition, there are too many factions with entrenched economic and/or financial interests to permit it to become a true health initiative.

    There’s been too much arguing about the details. People can not describe in 2 or 3 sentences the conceptual parameters of the effort and what it is supposed to accomplish. Unfortunately, people can describe how they feel about it in 1 or 2 words, and that’s not good. And that’s not to mention the elements which have whipped up hysteria by suggesting, with certainty, what will occur once the final product (which does not yet exist) emerges.

    If either side of the debate has to work this hard arguing about something which theoretically should improve the lives of the masses of people, there’s a big problem.

    Even more so than how something is done, people are interested in results, not the details. And once again, as is frequently the case with much of human processing, the facts don’t really matter. How people view the world, what they value, and what they want, matters.

    And there is nothing collaborative in nature about that. Factor in the strong individualistic American DNA, and this effort is emotionally toast.

    Being an optimist, I hope and pray that some improvement in our health status as a nation is made. However, the noise is deafening, and I may need medical treatment for loss of hearing before the debate is over.

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