Friday, November 20, 2009

Healthcare Reform: Real-life experiences to illustrate why I OPPOSE it

Tomorrow the US Senate votes on cloture for the Healthcare bill. I am strongly opposed to the healthcare reform bills currently circulation because I don’t want the government any more involved in my life than it already is. The same bureaucratic rocket-scientists who brought you the IRS, Amtrak and the USPS want to ‘help’ with your healthcare. It sounds wonderful. You need a medical test or procedure? NO PROBLEM! It’s covered. But WAIT.
I have learned over the years that just because the government “offers” a benefit, it doesn’t mean you GET the benefit. How can that be? Do you have any idea how challenging it is to find a decent doctor that accepts Medicaid? Most aren’t taking any new Medicaid patients. But say you find one. Your child is disabled and needs “waiver services”… services that regular Medicaid doesn’t cover. “There’s an app for that!” You apply for the waiver and, after a barrage of paperwork and medical documentation, you are told that your child qualifies for the waiver! Great news, right? Not so fast. Your child qualifies but there are no slots available on the waiver. The government only funds x-number of slots and the only way that you get one is for someone currently on the waiver to “drop off” (move out of state – the benefits don’t follow the person – or die). So your child is place on a waiting list. You’re told they’ll “contact you when a slot comes open”. You ask how long the waiting list is and you’re told that people currently being placed on the waiver applied 10 years ago. TEN YEARS. So, those services you need are COVERED, but hopefully your kid doesn’t REALLY need them now. She’ll get them a decade from now. How’s that for service? BUT WAIT! There’s more…. Just because you finally get a slot on a waiver it doesn’t mean that there are WAIVER PROVIDERS in your area. What good is a therapist or service when the nearest provider is 2-3 hours away. But – the service is covered. A comfort, no?

Then there is the outstanding efficiency and customer service those bureaucrats are legendary for! Here’s an example from real-time, here in Delaware County. Because of our situation we are eligible for “PRIORITY” status for energy assistance. We called in September and were given an appointment in early November (“priority”, huh?). All adults permanently residing in our home were required to be present for the appointment, which was conveniently scheduled during normal business hours. The lady doing the intake was polite while taking our information. She gave us a form that we had to bring back along with the social security cards for everyone in the household. Our appointment was on Monday. She said, “You can come back any Friday at 9AM or 1PM and just tell them you have your form and SS cards.” Today Amy went to drop off the forms, arriving at 0815 and was told that she was #35 and they only take 20 applicants at 9AM. She went back at noon and was told that the people who were being seen (basically, just dropping off forms) were given the 20 slots at 1100. There was one woman there who was on her 6th (SIXTH!) try, and another on her 4th. They only take paperwork on Fridays. And the employee who told Amy that was none-too-sympathetic or apologetic. Her job evidently does NOT depend on how she treats “the customer!” Just imagine if this was something URGENT (because heat in the winter isn’t urgent, right?).

Then there’s the COST of the proposed healthcare reform. It is said that they will cut $500 million from Medicare and “reduce waste” in Medicare and Medicaid to help pay for the program. Here’s an idea: how about we SAVE first and once it has been demonstrated that we CAN save by reducing waste, THEN we can start spending the money! Oh, wait…that would be un-American (it is the AMERICAN WAY to spend first, run up a big debt – like with credit cards – and then figure out how to PAY for the stuff, right?) The bill is even purported to be “deficit neutral” (they’re financing 5 years of coverage starting in 2014 with 10 years of taxes, ‘savings’ and other revenue). Unless they’ve found a PAUSE button for the calendar, so we can repeat the 10-years-of-payments-for-5-years-of-service cycle again, it won’t be “budget neutral” for long.

I have no choice but to take what I get from the government. YOU probably have more choices. If you think they’re viable, you might want to consider fighting to KEEP them. Let your voice be heard at