Archived Story

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

  • Swede

    Currently, the cases of the single mother, the 55-year-old, and the 30-year-old paraplegic (a friend of mine is a quadriplegic whose benefits came to an end), are taken care of by welfare programs. Seriously injured people are not turned away at hospitals, and the hospitals must know about these programs to fund the ability to treat those who cannot afford treatment.

    I personally financed an overnight stay for my diabetic nephew. The doctor gave me a deal because there was no insurance paperwork, and the payments were affordable.

    It is socialized medicine where you are assigned a priority, and clinics are closed weekends just like our government offices.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q2jijuj1ysw

    • Walt Henry

      Mike—concerning your comment about waiting for care—I was in France with a tour of students and parents. (My wife and I had a small tour company.) One of the 15 year old girls on the tour woke up on the morning we were to leave with a swollen face from some sort of allergic reaction. Within 45 mins. we had a doctor parked on the sidewalk in front of the hotel. He gave the girl the medicines she needed to make the trip home and by the time we flew into MSP she was fine. So another story—I was at work and filled one of those funnel-like paper cups with water. Halfway to my mouth my shoulder locked up with accompanying pain greater than a hockey puck to the mouth. My private insurance wouldn’t cover a doctor visit for it happened at work. The doctor I saw under workmen’s comp. had no idea what the cause was and couldn’t take an MRI until authorized by the company’s insurance carrier (5 days of pain). By the time I got the MRI I had lost 85% of the strength in my arm, a 60% restriction in blood flow and suffered permanent nerve damage of 30%. The point is there are stories, some good some bad.
      I’m going to suggest all readers search the “net” for information on the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA). Wiki this one if you want. It will give you a good starting point to consider a position regarding health care, as opposed to the lies, myths and horror stories being floated by people who have no respect for the 9th Commandment. (Here’s one those pesky facts—since passage of EMTALA (1985) there are estimates $.20 of every dollar you have spent on medical care or health insurance has gone to pay the costs of treating people who are either without health insurance or adequate insurance. (You’re doubtful that’s true? What does a hospital charge for an aspirin?)

  • Swede

    “The median wait for an MRI across Canada was 10.1 weeks.”
    http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/story/2007/10/15/waittimes-fraser.html

    Even Larry’s supposed 5 days of pain has shorter wait times than is Canada’s reality, 10.1 weeks.

    I’m going to suggest all readers be aware Larry Erickson is prone to fabrications of facts. Larry previously cited a SurveyUSA poll which does not exist.
    http://www.fergusfallsjournal.com/2012/05/21/marriage-amendment-may-pass-but-arguments-don%E2%80%99t-hold-up/

    • Walt Henry

      Mike, in your defense, SurveyUSA is a difficult site to search. (It was your site suggestion, not mine.) The answer to the question you couldn’t find was part of larger survey with nine unrelated questions. Maybe now you have that information you will be able to verify my earlier post. However, I take no responsibility for the effectiveness of your searching skills or your ability to assemble the information into reasonable conclusions. (Readers, I’m not trying to be mean. I’m just tired of nonsense!) Mike, I suggest you might consider the most recent poll regarding the marriage protection amendment or better yet, wait, like me, until November before making a declarative statement in that regard. :) As for your comment about the wait for an MRI in Canada—I have little doubt there can be quite a wait for MRI’s in Canada. But you want to resist comparing apples to oranges. The fact I had to wait at all is confirmation not all MRI’s are warranted. (In earlier posts I’ve written about the importance of critical thinking skills.) I know it is part of our culture to want things done quickly but many times speed has nothing to do with the eventual outcome. Speed costs money. We have health care costs that far exceed the value of care we receive. And that, my friend, is really what Obamacare is all about.

      • Swede

        Larry, posting a link is an accepted practice to cite evidence. Being you are unwilling to do so, I can only assume the supposed evidence does not exist.

        • Walt Henry

          Mike—there is another assumption, a correct assumption you can make—you can give people fish or you can teach them to fish. I’m trying to do the later. Do the research. Cite credible sources. Think critically. And remember, I believe you cited 5 polls—only one showed the support of more than 50% in favor of the marriage amendment. (That comes straight from my memory for this is an ancient discussion in this instant information age. But the point is I wanted, and still want, you to do your own work.)

          • Swede

            Try that line with a college professor, genius.

  • Walt Henry

    Mike, every mainstream student who graduates from Wayzata High School has had to learn to “fish.” In the class called “Modern Problems” they are required to pick a topic. They then research both sides of the issue. They are required to do a source analysis for their each of the sources they cite, looking carefully for bias by the source. Only after presenting both sides of the issue are they allowed to present their opinion. America would be better off if everyone learned how to “fish” like this. (Not sure what value there would be in Fox News stock or for that matter the time spent reading bloggers.)

    • Swede

      It is up to the inquisitor to find if Larry’s unsubstantiated claims might be true? That makes Larry’s claims negative proof fallacies (logical fallacies).

      Larry, you have the makings of a high level government bureaucrat.

      • Walt Henry

        Mike–it’s OK to be wrong. No one can know everything about anything. It’s just a poll. November is what counts. :) The most current pool I’ve seen. Let’s be more up to date. http://www.publicpolicypolling.com/main/2012/06/minnesotans-opposition-to-marriage-amendment-growing.html “Voters in the state think gay marriage should be legal by a 47/42 margin, closely matching the numbers on the amendment. And when you expand the discussion to civil unions 75% of voters support some form of legal recognition for gay couples to only 21% who think there should be none. That includes even 55% of Republicans.”

        • Walt Henry

          Pool–in honor of the heat of today and the attitudes :)

  • Richard Olson

    Ah yes, that terrible Canadian Healthcare System. The fact is that Canadians live in a Democracy, and have had several opportunities to vote their system out. Each and every time they vote to keep it. If you listen to the capitalists in America who think it’s just grand to make a humongous profit off of someone’s illness, the only thing they ever come up with is you have to wait in line in Canada. Wow, big deal, we wait in line here also.

    I would rather wait in a line in Canada to see a competent doctor without mortgaging my house and auto than see an arrogant millionaire Doctor who simply refers me to another Doctor in order to extract the maximum coin from my pocket only to be prescribed the most expensive product pushed by the pharmaceutical industry and their drug “du jour”.

    If Canadians hated their system so much that they drive to the United States to pay the freight, there wouldn’t be a parking spot for a car with American plates in the hospital parking lot in International Falls or Fargo for that matter.

    By the way, I get my health care from the Veterans Administration and I couldn’t be happier than with my government run healthcare. It is the best healthcare I have ever had both medical and dental. And the longest I’ve ever waited was 45 minutes and that was because the Doctor stopped at an accident scene on his way to work.

    • Swede

      Canadians wait for years:
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pWKiFf8qAWE

      “Delays for medical interventions such as hip and knee replacements, spinal surgery, and ophthalmologic procedures are a serious problem in Canada… Patients often wait months to obtain appointments with specialists, undergo diagnostic tests, and receive treatment.
      Recognizing that many Canadians are unable to obtain prompt treatment, medical tourism companies promote travel to medical facilities in other countries”
      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2231416/

      “Hospitals in border cities, including Detroit, are forging lucrative arrangements with Canadian health agencies to provide care not widely available across the border.”
      http://www.freep.com/article/20090820/BUSINESS06/908200420/Canadians-visit-U-S-get-health-care

      “These provisions are intended and designed to provide a very limited amount of funding for the medical treatment of insured residents of Ontario if they incur an unexpected illness, disease, condition or injury while they are outside of Canada. If the illness, disease, condition or injury arises before you leave Canada, or if it is not acute or unexpected, no payment can be made.”
      http://www.health.gov.on.ca/en/public/publications/ohip/travel.aspx

    • Swede

      Canadians wait for years:
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pWKiFf8qAWE

      “Delays for medical interventions such as hip and knee replacements, spinal surgery, and ophthalmologic procedures are a serious problem in Canada… Patients often wait months to obtain appointments with specialists, undergo diagnostic tests, and receive treatment.
      Recognizing that many Canadians are unable to obtain prompt treatment, medical tourism companies promote travel to medical facilities in other countries”
      ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2231416/

      “Hospitals in border cities, including Detroit, are forging lucrative arrangements with Canadian health agencies to provide care not widely available across the border.”
      freep.com/article/20090820/BUSINESS06/908200420/Canadians-visit-U-S-get-health-care

      “These provisions are intended and designed to provide a very limited amount of funding for the medical treatment of insured residents of Ontario if they incur an unexpected illness, disease, condition or injury while they are outside of Canada. If the illness, disease, condition or injury arises before you leave Canada, or if it is not acute or unexpected, no payment can be made.”
      health.gov.on.ca/en/public/publications/ohip/travel.aspx

      • Richard Olson

        That You Tube video is from the “Mackinac Center” a right wing organization dedicated to limiting the “size and reach of government” naturally they roamed throughout Canada and found exceptions to the rule and then portray those few exceptions as the rule.

        Likewise you attempt to slant the other citations as being something bad. When it fact they are programs that allow Canadian to get emergency care when traveling outside Canada on vacation at the expense of the Canadian National System and the other is an account of the Canadian government trying to save taxpayer dollars by sending some Canadians to boarder cities rather than build more hospitals within Canada.

        I don’t care what medical system you want to argue about it is easy to pick out a few examples of bad experiences and pretend they what happens to everybody in that system. The facts are that the majority of Canadians like their system and laugh in wonderment why we put up with our for profit system of fleecing people during periods of illness.

        Are you really trying to insinuate that there are no waiting lines in the United States? It just amazes me that anyone can defend our system and makes me question their morals and values.

        • Swede

          Why do you think cost will be reduced by adding the burden of scores of regulators, IRS agents, and regulations?

          Could it be that current regulations and lottery lawsuits are increasing costs? Does a doctor is paying half his salary into malpractice insurance increase costs?

          Anyone who makes the argument that “arrogant millionaire Doctors” is a problem, makes apparent his own motivation of jealousy.

          • Walt Henry

            Mike-Journalism 101 “The leading question”. Unless a person has stated his opinion specifically, a question that begins with “why do you” think invites argument and leads the responder into the questioner’s viewpoint. A certain “news” network asks this type of question all the time and their audience seems too wrapped up in their emotions to notice they are being “conned”.
            A more fair and balanced question might be, “What do you think are the major cost contributors to rising health care costs?” You might get information. Of course it is possible you only want a fight.

      • bigdaddy

        Mike, I have to respectfully disagree with you on this. Regardless of what poll, or some internet findings say, my family has lived in Manitoba province for many years, and they have never experienced any of this. They have had childbirths,knee surgery, injuries from scholastic hockey, and never have they or anyone they know of, had to wait for anything, especially a serious ailment! We have talked about this at length for many years, and they always laugh and say its just more rhetoric from a small group of canadian citizens/organizations who want a different system. While I agree, as does my family, that it’s not a perfect system, it would appear to be better than our current one. And Richard is correct, they have had many opportunities to vote for a change and the overwhelming majority have voted to keep the current system! I can’t speak for the other provinces, but it appears Manitobans are very pleased! And according to a relative that works at Rainy Lake medical,and another at Altru in Grand Forks so far they haven’t seen a mad rush from canada. I enjoy reading your comments, along with Larry’s. I think its critical to hear points from both sides. Reading, listening and learning are the only way we are going to elicit change that is needed in our health system! Happy 4th of July!

  • Walt Henry

    When I was a high school kid I went to a Cobber-Gustie football game in Moorhead. The Concordia punt team had this blocking back, who when rushed by the defense would lower his shoulder, raise himself up and drop the rusher on his head. Too cool! Three times he did this and the fourth the rusher just quit his rush. At about that same time Fergus Falls High School had just gotten a Universal Weight Lifting Machine. (That’s what you see in health clubs all the time now, with the pulleys and cables, but it was quite a novelty for a high school in outstate MN. Oh, BTW, the boy’s sport teams even got free socks and never paid a participation fee then either. Seems mom and dad were more likely to fully fund school things then. ) Anyway, I went in the weight room, misused the machine and “blew a disc” in my back. No surgery, no doctor visit, no pain killers or physical therapy., Granted, two years of pain going down my leg and three or four minor reoccurrences since then. The point beside the entertainment value of the story? Sometimes it doesn’t hurt to wait to have things fixed. While I don’t suggest waiting for everything, and as I get older there is always the concern I might need emergency life-saving attention, if the doctor says something does not require immediate attention, he/she is probably right. They are, after all, playing percentages just like an auto mechanic does. Remember, a certain female representative from Minnesota, who said we should pay the interest on the debt, the military, social security and nothing else, but never under any circumstances raise the debt ceiling? Silly woman, she forgot the services of the CDC; a doctor’s hotline to current lists illness and issues and the corrective actions to take for those illnesses and issues. They help create the “check off list” doctors use to determine the course of treatment,
    Here’s a link to a place of which we in Minnesota are quite proud. Look at the list of suggested treatments for back pain. Notice that an MRI can confirm you have pack pain. Hahahahaha I think you know you have back pain. Notice “waiting and leave it alone” are implied, even by an institution as great as the Mayo Clinic. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/herniated-disk/DS00893

  • Swedegirl

    If the Canadian health care system is so terrible why don’t the people of Canada vote it out? I lived in Canada for 7 years and can personally attest to the absolutely amazing care I had through one hospital stay for my then-3 year American son, numerous check-ups, doctor visits and after-care. I was always treated with respect, given prompt, competent care and never asked to pay up front for any of my services. Even as an American, the most I ever paid for any of my doctor visits was $30. My son’s hospital stay for 3 days cost me less than $100. He’s alive today because of the amazing care he received in that Canadian hospital. The Americans who bash their system have no real life experience on which to base their negativity, only hear-say and obscure web searches on radical right- wing websites. Like I said, if the system is so terrible why don’t the Canadians vote it out?

    • Swede

      Social Security “Trust Fund” began losing money in 2010, according to the CBO, and will be losing money indefinitely. That means it is now a welfare program. Why don’t Americans vote it out?

      Socialized medicine rations care, which is the reason for the long waits in Canada. Hip and joint replacements (elderly care) is rationed early on (as is the case in Canada). The NHS in Britian calls these “non-urgent” surgeries, to justify the wait.

      The British system (NHS) has been in place much longer than Canada, this is the latest from Britian:
      “Hospitals Told Child Heart Surgery Will Stop”
      http://news.sky.com/story/956245/hospitals-told-child-heart-surgery-will-stop

      • Swedegirl

        Well actually, Mike….George W Bush lobbied heavily in favor of privatizing SS and eventually backed away from it because the overwhelming majority of Americans opposed it.

        • Swede

          Lets vote on it, just like you said the Canadians can vote for or against their health care bureaucracy. ;-0

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