Summer Reading

One of the advantages of a summer vacation — even a brief one — is that you can catch up on summer reading. My old Post Office Box in Fairfax is still stuffed with free periodicals sent by interest groups under the mistaken assumption that I’m an important person. I tend to ignore them til the dead of summer, when the heat makes outside activity impossible. Then I read them all at once.

The most interesting articles to me are those that focus on the critical issue of health care reform. As you may know, this issue has gone from the abstract to the decidedly personal. It happened last November when my 55 year old mother-in-law was hit by a massive stroke which left her disabled. She had been in the United States for thirty years. During that time, her work history consisted of low-wage retail jobs with no pension benefits. But she always worked and put two kids through college. She and my father-in-law now have a residence in Centreville and a number of friends in their church. None of us was prepared for this.

Since that time, my wife has been directing her care. Of course, it now impossible to get her mother on private insurance. And she does not yet qualify for Medicaid (I’ll do a separate post later on that — and it won’t be pretty). So she has been getting by on minimal rehab services on a self-pay basis. It’s the least efficient, least effective method of recovery. But there are no other options.

Anyway, I have been following a national discussion on this issue at which is an organization formed by former Oregon Governor and M.D. John Kitzhaber. It’s good stuff (fyi, I have no idea whether he is an “R” or “D”) His goal is to reorganize health care in the 21st century so that it’s based upon universal access with basic preventative services. A system that is based on a patient’s health and reasonable cost for services, not the bottom line of a for-profit HMO. Anyone that has a parent, child or relative with lifetime care issues will appreciate the discussion.

Someone who is working full-time, even for an hourly wage, should have access to basic health care. (Is that a radical statement?) People that are in a long-term illness after a lifetime of work should not be left without any help.

At least someone is pushing for a solution. Stay tuned.


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