Is it the “Better Care” Act or a shell game?

06/29/2017 12:56 pm ET
published on Huffington Post: Huffpost Contributor

How many countries have a successful healthcare system in which the core is “free market insurance providers” at its base, the answer is 0. (FACT CHECK) Why do some believe “free market” is the answer to health insurance overhaul in the USA? Because those are the people profiting from your illnesses and premiums. Did you know it takes an estimated 2000 families paying premiums for a year to pay the compensation package of ONE CEO of one of the largest insurers in the USA? Are YOU one of those families? Did you know that No major healthcare organization supports the “Better Care Act” ? (Fact check) At the end of this article, I will provide links and data for you to review and hopefully call your Senators and offer your important input to this critical matter. Here is a fantastic break down of the ACA vs BCRA, in my opinion ACA wins hands down. The ACA needs repairs, there is no doubt about it. Premiums and deductibles need to be contained. The BCRA isn’t going to do that, in fact we will have less care and pay the same, so we loose.

Do young people really need access to healthcare? What is the best way to overhaul the US health care system? Is the Senate proposed bill H.R. 1628 “Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017” the answer? I would say it is not, and in fact, I would say it is a dangerous and potentially deadly piece of legislation that has the ability to both physically and financially destroy millions of American families. It is really so terrible to ensure that all Americans have healthcare coverage? This is not a partisan issues, we are all human and subject to illness and injury and the financial burdens of these realities. I’m going to share a personal story that will support my opinion that YES every person in the United States needs to be covered from cradle-to-grave comprehensive health plan.

Why do young Americans need coverage? Let me share my story begins when I was 12 years old and I with a genetic heart condition called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. This disease ran through my family for generations. I was a generally fit and healthy child. However, I was born with a genetic malfunction within the cardiac sarcomere, for the non-scientist reader, these are the contractile proteins that make your heart contract and relax. This required me to see cardiologist for testing and from that point on I had a serious pre-existing medical condition. I was relatively asymptomatic in my teenage years which means I didn’t notice major symptoms but a very prominent heart murmur, and I got dizzy from time to time. I was insured by my parents’ health care plan until I was 18 years old and due to plan design, I was pushed off the plan and was uninsured for about nine months. I had to get a job with insurance because I knew that my health was precarious at best. I took a job as a recruiter in headhunting firm and received my first insurance program through my employer. I left that job and went on to another where I had fantastic coverage. Some people looked at growth and opportunity in employment opportunities while I was looking at comprehensive health care coverage at the ripe old age of 19.

It was a very good thing I looked for good coverage because I needed it sooner and more than I ever dreamed. To make a very complicated story brief two days before my wedding in 1990 I needed emergency dental work. The dentist I was seeing at the time did not believe a genetic heart condition needed to be premeditated to protect you against subacute bacterial endocarditis. He was wrong. On my honeymoon, I developed symptoms of what I now know to be TIAs or transient ischemic attacks which were my precursor to my stroke. On June 16th 1990, I was taken to the hospital to be evaluated for what I thought was the worst headache in the history of headaches. My symptoms of a stroke were completely ignored and was sent home on painkillers. The next day I received a phone call to return to the hospital for an MRI after which I was admitted to the hospital to receive IV antibiotics to treat the underlying cause of my stroke. I was 21 years old. Yes, young people can have catastrophic health situations and there should be a safety net to ensure they have the ability to heal and resume living their lives without going bankrupt. My medical issues did not go away after the stroke. At 23 yrs. old, I needed a pacemaker, at 27yrs old an implantable defibrillator, replaced at 30yrs old, 34yrs old, 39yrs old and lastly at 44 years old. At 48 years old, I needed a heart transplant. I have maintained health insurance throughout my life which at times required COBRA or a plan through the ACA exchange. I was thankful for the passage of the ACA because it meant I could not be disenfranchised from access to healthcare due to my pre-existing heart condition. I was lucky because I knew I had to plan, but what about those who are unable to access insurance through an employer? What about those with medical conditions that make gainful employment unobtainable? There must be a safety net.

I remain a perplexed as ever as to why, we as a county, have tied access to health insurance to our employers and not system that we can make the best choices for ourselves. A single payer system with levels of care one can purchase from basic to enhanced makes far more sense. For those who do not want “the government” in healthcare I would argue that I would rather be able to vote out a politician then give control to a for profit entity with huge overhead. I also remind readers that taxes and premiums are just words for money… you are going to pay one way or the other.

On June 27 2017 the Senate bill that claims to provide better healthcare for Americans sat in front of me and I thought of my life and the lives of those I serve facing diagnoses of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and all of the complications that it could have. I know I was very lucky to have quality healthcare at a young age and that I had to sacrifice other things including education to ensure I had it. I believe our young people deserve both healthcare and the chance to be successful and well educated and I believe we should be more thoughtful about the fragile nature of human life and how to sustain healthcare in a humane and cost-effective manner. Today I am the mother of a soon to be 22-year-old woman who thankfully is able to stay on my health plan until the age of 26. While that one provision is maintained in the Senate version of the bill, it is about the only thing of value in there.

Mother and daughter, both battery operated. Lisa (mom) on ICD #5 Becca (daughter) on ICD #2.

The cuts to Medicaid, the failure to guarantee essential features, and the ignorance and arrogance related to woman’s health care is simply maddening. To not permit payments to Planned Parenthood and force woman to “community health centers” is putting the federal government deeper into healthcare and not in managing claims, but making choices of what services will be made available… yet only woman’s health care not men’s. This is not surprising because not ONE woman sat on the committee to create this bill. There have been efforts to ensure funding for opioid addiction is covered, great, we have lost too many to this terrible addiction. However, where are the efforts to limit the amount of pills the pharmaceutical manufactures can produce? Where are the limits on multi-million dollar compensation packages? Where are the provisions that state if you want to sell insurance in the USA you must provide it in all states, or in a region? Where are the provisions putting choice in the hands of the patients and doctors and leaving government OUT of these personal choices. When the ACA was launched those opposed to it claimed it included “death panels” because it required doctors to have conversations about end of life choices with their patients, this was a very wise topic to include because nobody wants to make life and death choices when they are sick or in pain. The Senate bill is in fact a death bill as it does not permit for end of life care at all. By removing Medicaid funding elderly people with limited or no income will be forced to remain home or with a loved one with no access to end of life care. This is not the compassionate United States that I want to live in, it is cruel, mean and short sighted.

Needless to say, the Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Association opposes this bill and our staff has contacted most Senators and we encourage you to do the same.

How to contact YOUR…or ALL Senators? Click here

My sincere thanks to my dear friend Lee Tilson Esq for his assistance with this piece. Together we can make our voices heard and ensure we protect our families now and in the future.