I favor supporting the Public Option for a couple of reasons, or maybe three:
o Realistically, it’s all we’re going to get this time ’round.
o NOT having it would make a total mockery of healthcare reform, imho. There are those that argue that even without the Public Option, there are many provisions that we need, and that’s true (more comments on that below). I believe, however, that without the Public Option, we will simply be putting our finger in the dike, and not making any fundamental changes to the way we do business. It truly is only a camel’s nose under the tent flap; still, it’s an opening…
o There is a strong argument for gradual, evolutionary change in a system that is such an important part of everyone’s lives. Medicare Part B is a perfect example of the disaster that can strike when a sweeping change is put into place overnight. Setting aside that it was a bad program to begin with (the donut, the windfall for the drug industry, etc., etc.), the lesson I took away from it was that a drastic change in something so important as whether people can or cannot obtain the drugs they need can cause not just confusion and inconvenience, but very likely some deaths as well.
These thoughts are obviously only distilled versions of long conversations I’ve had in my head.
The example that pertains to my second point is a hearing that takes place tomorrow at the State House. For those who care to know the details of the bill that made me aware of this hearing, see below, between the lines (literally!).
The Financial Services Committee is hearing a bunch of bills that have been filed to require (“mandate”) insurance companies to provide coverage for certain things. I seem to remember that one of my colleagues told me there are 140 mandates altogether, and that none of them is frivolous; all of them have merit, and are examples of how the insurance industry does not exist to do the right thing, but to make money. Further, I am told that if the President’s proposals are all signed into law, all of these mandates now being discussed will become redundant, because they will be mandated at the federal level.
So, my point in bringing this up is that it supports the argument that there is much in the current healthcare proposals that is good, whether or not the Public Option is included. My counter to that, however, again, is that it seems to me to be simply adding to the patchwork quilt that is our healthcare system, and not making the fundamental change that we need to move to Ted Kennedy’s dream of “Medicare for All”!
I am working with a large group of Autism advocates to support H 3809 (known as ARICA — “An Act Relative to Insurance Coverage for Autism”), sponsored by Rep Barbara L’Italien and Senator Fred Berry.
Here’s the essence of it:
o The legislation would require insurance companies to treat autism as a medical condition, not as a mental health condition, as they currently do.
o The science behind this (autism is a neurological condition) is 30 years old and well-established.
o Insurance companies would rather stay in the past because they fear it would cost them lots of money.
o The truth is, autism affects a tiny fraction of the population, and studies show the cost to insurance companies (passed along, presumably, as higher premiums) would be minimal — for the typical insurance policy, an increase per individual of about $2.28 per month.
o On the flip side, the monetary savings to the Commonwealth (in terms of support services) would far outweigh the increased cost of treatment.
o As it stands now, physicians cannot, for insurance coverage, prescribe treatments that are know to be effective. This leads to great discrimination against lower-income families (others can afford to pay for these treatments privately).
o The treatments that are used today can return a child or an adult to a full and productive life in the community. Lack of treatment will likely leave them at a severe and lifelong disadvantage, and represents a terrible waste of potential.
There’s more, but one quickly descends into the jargon of psychobabble and SPED-speak.
I hope you will agree with me that this is an important piece of legislation for an often-neglected part of the disability community. So far, 15 states (most recently New Jersey and Connecticut) have passed similar legislation, and 20 others are considering it. Massachusetts prides itself (and rightly so) for being at the forefront of healthcare initiatives, and this is one we should adopt.
Member, DSC Disability Outreach Committee
Alford & Springfield