If you want to truly fix a broken system, look at the patients

Dear Senators,

I know that the plan is to meet soon to pass the latest GOP health plan. The Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare, failed with a price tag of over a trillion dollars. Yes, this faulty plan is not sustainable as is. Yet, your proposed plan is just a rehashing of the failed elements.

While you look at the economics and short-fallings, I look patients in the eye every day, many times a day, and give them a pronouncement of this failed system. I am the one that gets to tell the overworked single mother that her child’s asthma inhaler is not covered by her insurance. What can she do? Wait until he has an attack and go to the ER further driving up further health care costs? What, senators, do you suggest I advise her?

And then there is the young man with little kids who has had hepatitis C since a teenager. He has heard of Harvoni and is excited that there may be a cure for him. Except his insurance won’t cover it, and he can’t afford it. In fact, few patients can afford the almost $100,000 price tag for 12 weeks of treatment.

Perhaps, Senators, if you saw drug addicted babies born to mothers who tried to come off drugs but were unable to get coverage for rehab services, you would look closer at what should be done with Medicaid. You see, when you shuffle federal dollars around to “fix” the economy, very real lives are being affected, from the first breaths of life. Isn’t a baby’s life more valuable than one-upping a faulty health care plan because it was drafted on the other side of the aisle?

While you shuffle the federal dollars around the health care checkerboard, you are missing what is truly broken in the health care system. Your focus on your political grandest blinds you to the patients the system is designated to serve. Who will care for them if you will not? These include the most feeble and sick members of the American society that you plan to leave ailing in the cold. These are the voters, who helped elect you to your current office.

If you want to truly fix a broken system, look at the patients, the sick and the elderly. Look at the children who can;t get something as simple as a generic asthma inhaler and spend nights awake because they can’t breathe through the wheezing. Where you send those federal dollars may be ripped right out of their lungs. Is your plan so grand that you will allow children to die for your accolades of feigned wisdom?

And when you look at the patients, investigate further what needs to be done to get them the health care that they need. They need medications they can afford, they need to have affordable treatments, they need access to doctors. Having health insurance guarantees none of those. If you were to delve further into economics, you would realize that the US is the only country on earth where its citizens file bankruptcy due to medical costs. Did you know that many who do file bankruptcy here actually covered by health insurance during the period they were receiving treatment? Your plan does nothing for those people. Perhaps if they were banks, you would bail them out because they would have larger coffers to offer up for favors.

Look at the cost of medications and imagine what it would be like for someone living paycheck to paycheck to pay these prices. If you can’t imagine that, then you have been rich too long and lack empathy. There have been Congressional hearings when public outcry was raised, but this was only a few instances of outrageous price gouging. What about the other medications that patients can’t afford yet, no one is raising their voices? Should we wait for the outcry or until more lives are lost? Or should we look at the pharmaceutical industry from now and work on a real solution that would greatly impact health care costs? Perhaps the reason that the medication monopolies continue is the fact that these are large companies with huge bank accounts. The diabetic teenager is nothing compared to them. He is lucky to just be able to get his insulin every month.

And then there are the insurance companies. The ones that are supposed to cover lives yet deny routine care based on costs. This is a conflict of interest if there ever was one. Have you seen the salaries of the insurance company executives?

It is not until we address the abuse of these large, rich companies can we even begin to devise a plan for fixing the health care system. Shuffle the federal funds around all you like, but you will just end up with another health care plan that is unaffordable and limits patients access to medical services. And what would you like those millions to do that will have their insurance dropped when your plan passes?

Senators, when you devise a fix to the health care plan, please put down your politics and ignore the power of the big corporations. Look at your spouses and children and your parents and imagine if they were sick and couldn’t get the treatment that was needed. Every patient out there is someone’s child or brother or sister or parent. Why are yours so much more important that the rest are sentenced to forage a wild forest for medical services? It is not until every single American citizen has access to affordable medical services will a plan succeed. As a doctor, I see the ravages the system takes on my patients every day. Please vote for the child with asthma to get his inhaler or someone’ s brother to be cured of hepatitis. The future health of the U.S. depends on it.

With regards,

Dr. Linda

Linda Girgis is a family physician who blogs at Dr. Linda.

Image credit: Shutterstock.com

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