Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Health Care Initiative

At last night's forum on the Democrats State-Wide Health Initiative, the speakers in the audience got to vent their frustrations with a myriad of problems in the State's health care system.

When I checked the newspaper this morning, the story was focused on a couple of the more dramatic presentations. You can read the account here:


One speaker told the legislators to "follow the money" a la the advice of Deepthroat if they wanted to solve the health care crisis.

Another speaker decried the lack of Dental Coverage in Badger Care, the State's low-income health care program.

And, of course, the Marshfield Clinic took the opportunity to make a presentation. Dr Phillips made at least one excellent point, in my opinion. He suggested that insurance, or at least some outside entity, should provide first dollar coverage for preventive medicine and deductibles or copays be reserved for treatment of actual medical procedures. The reason I found this appealing is because in a de facto manner, it is placing public or insurance money squarely into the PREVENTION side of the equation which, as a public official, you always instinctively gravitate toward.

I had the opportunity to talk to Julie, Amy-Sue and Louis afterward and I'm sorry I didn't get to meet Donna Seidel.

Will any of this amount to meaningful health care reform?

There weren't any Republican legislatiors in the room. They control both houses of the legislature.

What does that tell you?


S.Free said...

I'm glad you went Ed. Were there lots of people?
When I got the call on Friday, I asked if Scott Suder would be there. He loves to get his 'mug' in the news. I was told he wouldn't.be there Maybe he would have been interested if there had been some domestic partners who wanted health benifits or some nurses who wanted to "pack' a weapon to protect themselves against athiest patients.
Wow! Do I sound angry? (Is it ok to use this blog to vent?)

Ed said...

Venting is not only allowed...


I'm guessing there were over 50 people there. Most of us were from the party but it appeared that there were a lot of citizens there who had something to say about health care, or were just converned enough to show up to see if anything was going to actually be done.

btw: I can't believe that Julie didn't get a deal to get her amendment into the CC law to keep firearms off of medical center properties......she did last time but it wasn't on this bill.


EDW said...

Well, while this was a public hearing, I wasn't satisfied with the lack of answers to my questions. It is important for members of the community to voice their opinions and suggestions, but come on, these legislators have something in mind here! They can answer a couple of straight forward questions.
Badger Care is an overpriced albatross around the neck of every Wisconsin taxpayer... and like most social programs, it only works for people with kids. Single people need some rights or at least the option of not having to pay for these baby machine freeloaders! I worked with a man who made the same money as me (and at that time, I was making GOOD money) and had the same opportunity to sign up for the employee health insurance which was good coverage and the company paid 78% of the premiums, but he opted to stay on Badger Care, raiding the system of funds when he had the opportunity to get off of this government program. And he is a Republican! Still feel like paying for people like that?
Also, a very well intentioned plan in Maine, the Dirigo Health Reform Act, as discussed on PBS's NOW (http://www.pbs.org/now/science/dirigodebate.html) is now facing a lot of scrutiny due to the fact that the insurance company providing care under this plan is not holding up their end of the bargain.
Uniform health care could be a real winner for the Dems, as Malcolm Gladwell points out in the March issue of Fast Company magazine, but we need to think outside the box when it comes to a solution. I don't think that any state plan will work unless the fed passes some regulation that stipulates caps for costs of medical procedures. But the best and surest way to provide universal health care coverage is to seek cost savings when it comes to big Pharma. It is time that the people of this country get some kickback from pharmaceutical companies that charge as much as 35,000% of their manufacturing fees for drugs (and this includes research)! Big pharma should be limited in their mark-up and should be banned from advertising on airwaves. Furthermore, clinic and hospital staff should be barred from holding pharmaceutical stock. This alone would save insurance companies and patients billions of dollars. But this has to be done at the federal level. Until then, we will only see plans like Badger Care and Dirigo that either fall short of supplying health care for all or are simply costing taxpayers too much money.

Ed said...


You hit it on the head with the observation that "they (the legislators) need to think outside the box..."

They have no intention of doing so..they will "nibble around the edges" but I doubt seriously if they are willing to tackle the issue of health care head-on.


S.Free said...

I agree we need to have a better system. Everyone should be paying something for every visit. When you get something for "free" I've noticed that people with health insurance (whether funded through the public or privately) use it more often.
We currently are eligible for BAdger Care. The kids get so mad at me when they are ill and I won't take them to the doctor unless I've done my own diagnosis. Then I'll talk to GMa (who is Mrs. NAtural Healing), and then to Aunt Mary, a nurse. I know I'm probably a rarity.
It is not that easy to get either! I have to submit each and every pay stub to Wood Co. Some months we are elgible and some we are not. It all depends on how many days I subbed and in what district. I worked full-time for a parochial school and was eligible for the entire six weeks. (I was making just over minimum wage as an English teacher.)
We only use Badger Care when we have to. I worked for 20 years for a corp. that provided 100% medical and dental. I used in rarely as well. I would guess we use the insurance 3x a year. I pay for my own dental care as the dentist who agreed to take my children under BC was hesitant.(Reimbursement pay is low he said.) So I have been to the dentist once in three years.
I am glad WI provides some health care to working families. I'll also be glad when I get a full-time job so I don't feel like I am "on the dole."
By the way, there is a program in Marshfield for low-income single people. I believe it is Family Health Center. An older, single lady I know gets health care through them. She has better benefits than I do.
You might want to check into that if you really need health care and can't afford it. Good luck ( and try not to call us single moms "baby making machines," it is offensive. :)

Ed said...

Good call on Family Health Care Center. I have reason to know the people who run it and it's a great organization...very dedicated individuals.

Security health (which I have) has a proviso that before you trott into Urgent Care or the Emergency Room, you have to call the Nurse Hotline first...it saves a lot of healthcare $$$$. Funny thing though, the ONE time I thought I should go to the emergency room, my wife INSISTED that I call the nurseline first...the nurse said:
CALL 911 NOW!!! Yes, indeed it was a heart attack resulting in triple bypass.

I'd have to think a bit about whether I agree that "everybody should pay something". It sounds reasonable but I'm not sure that one size fits all in this case. It's hard to grapple with.


Ed said...

by the way....

I'm soooooooo happy we're having this conversation...this is what I was hoping the blog would do.


EDW said...

I did not intend to offend single mothers. I meant to offend married couples who have good, employer-paid health benefits available to them but because of their excessive fertility and lack of birth control choose to stay on Badger Care. I know that Ministry Health Care offers Community Care. I took advantage of this about eight years ago when I needed it, but they are an exception. Not to mention that by using Ministry Health Care means to put up with a lot of crap such as the denial of birth control and/or hormone therapy--treatment that was necessary for me, a person with endometriosis. By the way, thank God that Governor Doyle repealed the Conscience Clause! Now I am finally able to get the surgery I badly need!
I have good health care coverage at the moment; I am one of the lucky ones. I would never advise someone whether insured or uninsured to put off going to the doctor and I did not mean to make anyone who really needs assistance feel as though they should not be covered. They should be. What I have a problem with are people who have the good fortune to have an employer who agrees to pay for 78% of their premiums and still opt to stay on government assistance simply because they can. Badger Care needs to be reformed so that only people (and I do mean childless people as well as people with children) who have to pay 50% or more of their premiums out of pocket are eligible. This would be the best solution at the moment and the surest way for the proponents of Badger Care to win over the hearts and minds of people currently opposed to the program.

S.Free said...

I agree with you Jen.
I wanted to check back on this blog topic and see what buzz we had created.Health care gets everyone cranked up.
I know you meant no harm with your comments.
I also know that health care needs need to be addressed or it might start a modern day revolution starting with the uninsured poor.