Thursday, December 31, 2009
A Hawaii physician writes to Obama
by Larry Geller
Over the past couple of weeks I’ve read countless opinions from knowledgeable players in the healthcare reform effort about whether the Senate version of the bill should be supported or not. Commentary covers the entire spectrum of “it’s great!” through “this is our only chance” to “it’s better if it never passes” in its probable final form.
Dr. Arleen Meyers, a physician, attorney, and president of the Hawaii Coalition For Health, wrote a letter to President Obama which I think he ought to read and take to heart. Her letter is dated December 24, 2009, the day before Christmas, and it is still valid today, the day before New Years. Neither the president nor Congress seem to have gotten this message yet.
Dear President Obama:
It is surely a historic moment, but we may not like what we get. Through the work of a non-profit healthcare consumer advocacy organization, the Hawaii Coalition For Health, I and several of my civic minded fellow physicians and public interest lawyers founded in 1996, we have zealously strived to protect and preserve the rights of patients in Hawaii to receive quality and affordable health care. We all shed tears of joy the night you were elected because we believed you could accomplish the meaningful health reform our country sorely needs. However, the health reform bill the Senate just passed may hurt millions more Americans than it will help. It encroaches on the reproductive rights of poor women; the mandate forces Americans to buy insurance they can ill afford in this economy or disobey the law with no meaningful protections against the predatory conduct of health insurers. With ERISA left untouched, there is no way to protect seriously ill patients from the consequences they suffer from the draconian rationing of healthcare in which insurance companies presently engage.
Furthermore, the public option I strongly supported to bring sorely needed competition into the health insurance market place and to reduce the unfettered power insurers now have is gone from the Senate bill. I also understand that Hawaii has been granted an exemption. I don’t quite know what that means, or how that will affect Hawaii patients.
In my humble view, this country’s serious problems will not be solved by government pouring billions of dollars into the banking industry or health care that does not have with it serious assurances that at least some of that investment will filter down to benefit us little guys. You got my vote last year and I bet the vote of the millions of ordinary Americans who celebrated your election because we heard in your eloquent campaign speeches strong messages that you could and would take back America for its people. Please don’t fail us now.
An excellent letter! I think that Obama has already failed! His actions certainly have not been aligned with campaign promises. The question is, who is running him?