After ruling, health care still will need reform [UPDATED]Published 8:15am Monday, July 2, 2012 Updated 12:19pm Monday, July 2, 2012
Saturday’s (Rochester) Post-Bulletin featured another update in the amazing saga of Army Staff Sgt. Patrick Zeigler, who continues to recover after being shot in the head at Fort Hood on Nov. 5, 2009.
Zeigler isn’t supposed to be here today, but here he is, now married and awaiting the birth of his son. He’s received treatment in 10 hospitals in five states, and his wife, Jessica, has spent the last 31 months as his tireless full-time advocate, making sure her husband gets every treatment and therapy he needs as he tries to live to his fullest potential.
It’s a feel-good story, an inspirational tale of defying impossible odds, of love’s enduring power, for better or for worse, in sickness and in health. If you can read Saturday’s account without getting a lump in your throat, then you’re not paying attention.
But as we await Thursday’s Supreme Court ruling on the health care reform act, we can’t help but put other people into Zeigler’s place — people who don’t have military insurance benefits and a savvy, devoted spouse who can intelligently navigate the bureaucratic complexities of modern medicine.
What happens to the single mother who suffers a brain injury because of the negligence of an uninsured drunken driver? Or the 55-year-old who has lost his job and is suffering from clinical depression and diabetes? The 30-year-old paraplegic who is fast approaching her insurance company’s lifetime cap on benefits?
Tomorrow, after the court’s ruling is announced, we’re going to hear a lot about who “won” and who “lost” in the great debate about the health insurance mandate and health care reform. If we were wagering, we’d bet on a mixed result, much like the one that was delivered Monday on Arizona’s immigration law.
But we’re 100 percent certain that regardless of how the court rules, our health care system will still be in need of major reforms, including a fundamental recognition that human beings deserve the opportunity to defy the odds. Top-notch health care shouldn’t be available only to those with good jobs and wonderful insurance.
Thursday’s ruling, in case you’ve forgotten, is about much more than politics. It’s about people. It’s about hard-working families with sick kids. It’s about middle-aged spouses who are devoted to each other, yet are considering a divorce to avoid losing their home and life savings due to an expensive illness. It’s about disabled or chronically ill college graduates who overcame tremendous obstacles to earn their degrees, yet can’t find an employer that can afford to insure them.
Staff Sgt. Zeigler is living, breathing proof of what’s possible when determination, love and an undying spirit are combined with the best medical care in the world. We can only hope that after tomorrow’s ruling is announced, our nation will move forward, toward a health care system that offers more hope — and fewer hoops, hurdles and closed doors.
— Post-Bulletin of Rochester, June 27, 2012