The intense debates over health-care reform have brought to mind some poignant memories. When my father was in his early 40s he was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Our entire family was shaken, but perhaps no one more than Granddad and Grandma Clapp. Moving into their elderly years, they had to watch a son die.
The Remote Area Medical Volunteer Corps is a charitable organization that brings free health care to regions of the globe where medical care is scarce or unaffordable—such as parts of Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia and Utah.
On May 13, I lingered in Upper Senate Park, just north of the U.S. Capitol, hearing New Orleans jazz coming from down Constitution Avenue. Then I saw the brass band leading a lively procession of hundreds of nurses, other medical professionals and patient advocates.
Longtime advocates of single-payer insurance like me are thrilled, anxious and deflated simultaneously by the state of the debate on health-care reform. The debate that we wanted has finally come, and it is coming with a legislative rush, but the plan that we wanted is being excluded from consideration. Should we hold out for the real thing, or get behind the best politically possible thing?
I am for doing both: Standing up for single-payer without holding out for it exclusively; supporting a public option without denying its limitations; and hoping that a good public plan will lead eventually to real national health insurance.
President Obama’s plan to give all Americans the option of a government-run health insurance plan got a frigid reception in June from the American Medical Association, the nation’s leading lobbying group for physicians. Offering a public plan would “restrict patient choice by driving out private insurers,” the AMA warned in a statement before Obama appeared before the group.
Two years ago, Kevin Brumett was diagnosed with lung cancer. He was 29 and had never smoked. After an initial round of successful treatment, the cancer spread to his brain. Still, Brumett is determined to fight the disease and says God is on his side at every step. He hopes his fight can help others who share his condition.
The White House has an oft-overlooked religious ally for solving the country’s social problems through greatly expanded government programs, if a new survey of senior pastors in mainline Protestant churches is a good indication.
On his 16th day in office, President Obama signed a bill expanding the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) by $32 billion, providing coverage to an additional 4 million children in families who have incomes too high to receive Medicaid but who cannot afford to buy health insurance.
Shortly before Christmas, while defending his plan to give federal aid to the collapsing U.S. automakers, President Bush remarked, “I have abandoned free-market principles to save the free-market system.”