Questions Linger in Healthcare Proposal

Tuesday, 16 Mar 2010 10:17 AM

By Susan Estrich

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The president is "not familiar" with the bill. No one can explain how it will work yet, as Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., told a contentious town meeting. There are various plans, and negotiations are still in the early stages.

But whatever it is, we should be for it.

Am I missing something?

We're only talking about our health and our kids' health, the things my mother, may she rest in peace, told me a thousand times are the only things worth caring about. If you have your health, you have everything. And if you don't, what in the world matters more than the best healthcare in the world, which is found right here?

Not by everybody, mind you, and not cheaply, for anybody. No one's suggesting for a moment that there aren't major problems with both access and cost. But the best healthcare in the world is still here, and before we take steps that could make things much worse, I'd like to be very certain that they will indeed make things much better.

Your health, as I now tell my children, is not something to fool around with. Read the labels. Don't take unnecessary risks. Look before you leap. The devil is in the details.

Why would it be different for a healthcare plan?

I'm glad no one is calling me to ask whether I "support" healthcare reform. At this point, the question — and the polls measuring people's answers to it — is utterly meaningless. What is healthcare reform?

Would I love to see every American have access to high-quality medical care? Of course.

Am I just as appalled as the next person when I get the bill (that for me, luckily, is mostly paid by insurance) and see what various tests and scans cost, or, rather, what hospitals are forced to charge patients with insurance in order to cover the ones without it? Sure.

But I'm not willing to give up my doctor or the time I spend with him. I'm not willing to give up the relationship we have. My children, now grown, feel as comfortable calling him as I do because he has taken the time with them over the years to build that trust.

And no matter how high the final price tag on those tests has been, never once have I said, "If I'd known how much they would cost, I wouldn't have had them done." No, I'm grateful for my insurance, grateful for the technology, grateful for good care.

So am I for healthcare reform? Do I support the House bill, whatever it is, or the Obama plan, which may or may not be the same thing?

Not yet. Not until I know what it is. Not until someone convinces me that whatever it is will do more good than harm, both for the country and for my family. Mother knows best.

© Creators Syndicate Inc.

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