Opinion: Let’s Reform Health Care For A Better Tomorrow

Health-care reform would be especially good for our profession, as practice owners and employers wouldn’t have the financial burden and social obligation of carrying health insurance for their employees.

Many veterinary hospitals, like other small businesses, don't always have the money or the will to offer health coverage as a benefit.

One of my former receptionists, Martha, had health-care insurance during the six years she was on my staff. Then she went to work at another hospital that did not provide health insurance. When Martha developed symptoms of a urinary tract infection, she delayed going to see the doctor because she and her husband were saving for a house and she was uninsured. Six weeks later, she did go to the doctor and was told she had advanced cervical cancer.
 
Martha died in three days. She was only 32 and had been married for 10 years. Everyone who knew Martha was upset that she put off seeing the doctor because she didn’t have  health insurance. This is a sad but true story. 

Many people believe that not having insurance isn't a good excuse for not getting yourself checked out if a problem comes up. But the sad part is that Martha was so young to have this type of cancer. Who would have suspected?
 
In this century, in this country, people should not lose health insurance because they move to another job or because their employer has to cut back or shut down.

The recession is filtering people out of employment daily. People should be able to move in and out and around the work force and carry their health insurance with them. Reform would take the shackles off employer-based health insurance and allow us more mobility and health-coverage security.
 
Our society is changing. The baby boomers are over 40 and the boomers are stressing the health care system as we age. In addition, the healthspan of way too many Americans is falling way too short of their lifespan. This is due to Western diseases such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, fibromyalgia, stress, depression, dementia and cancer.

These diseases, along with cigarette, drug and alcohol addiction, and the growing number of uninsured families have added unprecedented pressure on the U.S. health-care system.
 
Our health delivery system is breaking down when we need it most. It is frankly obvious to most Americans that the system needs revamping. How can reform be accomplished against powerful special interest groups?
 
Vast medical teams representing ”One Medicine” were consulted over the past 15 years for advice. This includes the National Academies of Practice, of which I have been a distinguished practitioner member (DPNAP) for the past decade. NAP was founded in 1981 to be a source of credible advice to Congress. NAP is composed of leaders in nine various health professions who create white papers that advise Congress on health care matters.

Thought leaders in finance, economics and medicine, including NAP and the current administration, agree that health care delivery and health insurance reform are musts for the future well being of all Americans. Medical services must be delivered in a new way with a new paradigm to better serve the needs of the American people.

If opposition to health care reform gets a stronghold, the consequences will be tragic. NAP discussions found that human suffering in America has already gone beyond the tolerance of the majority of most dedicated people in the medical and nursing professions. Click here

Nurses and doctors have been diminished and frustrated by the dominance and indifference of the inherently for-profit insurance industry. Doctors, nurses and hospital workers are upset that insurance companies dictate and control their medicine, forcing them to minimize or withhold medical care from patients who need it.

The Los Angeles area was recently humbled by huge lines of people who waited for hours in the August heat to get free benevolent health care at the Forum in Inglewood.

Health care workers are asking the government for authentic reform so they can adequately and ethically fulfill their vocation as health care professionals and serve society.

Health care reform is facing fiercely funded opposition.

What can we do to help pass the reform we desperately need?

The answer is education. People need to know the facts. Veterinarians, as employers, health-care workers and community leaders, need to be able to point out the distortions, the lies and the rumors to help our colleagues, employees, friends, family and communities understand the truth so they can make an educated decision. 
 
This website has information that will knock down the rumors and lies.

Go to the NAP website.  You can ask NAP to send you information on the eight ways reform provides security and stability to those with or without coverage, the eight common myths about reform, and the eight reasons we need health insurance reform now.

Martha would have had a better chance if her health coverage had not been attached to her job and if our health care system had offered her more stability.

My friend Sonja Dennis of Redondo Beach was an ICU nurse for 18 years at Cedar Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles. She is a single mother of two and no longer has health insurance coverage because she left her regular employment due to illness. Her COBRA policy was $800 per month and she could not afford to continue with it. This is not fair! Call your representatives and tell them you favor reform! <HOME>

Alice Villalobos, DVM, offers insights into timely issues affecting the human-animal bond, animal welfare and the relationships among pets, owners and veterinary practitioners. She is a member of the American Assn. of Human-Animal Bond Veterinarians and is on the editorial review board of the Society for Veterinary Medical Ethics.

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