Posted By Ben Miller,
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Updated: Wednesday, June 1, 2011
| Comments (1)
I was in Kansas City this past week for a conference, and
realized a travesty was occurring on Saturday, which I had no control over: My
hotel did not carry CSPAN.
For those of you non-policy wonks, CSPAN stands for Cable-Satellite Public Affairs Network. What was an out of
town guy to do? The only thing that made sense to me was to begin walking and
convince a bartender to change the channel from World Series of Poker to CSPAN.
To make a laborious story short, I eventually ended up at a swanky seafood and
steak house in the new Power
and Light District in downtown Kansas City. The bartender graciously agreed
to change the channel off the horse races to allow me a few minutes with the
glorious debate unfolding before my eyes. They even turned up the sound for me
so I could hear the constant
objections and rude interruptions by some of our elected officials. I was
in heaven. This was politics at its
finest. Positioning, grandstanding and strategizing - all for a vote which
would not come for many hours later. I could tell you more about my experience
at this restaurant, including the cardiac nurse who served me my drink, the
uninsured bartender who was confused on how healthcare was paid for, the
hostess who told me the story of her being denied coverage, but I will reserve
those stories for another day (you could also check out one of my favorite
books on the topic: Cohn's Sick).
as one mentor described to me, is movement in a direction. What we saw on
Saturday (if you were able to stay awake) was historical movement. This was the
first step in a significant policy that could possible change healthcare for
years to come. Was this bill perfect? Absolutely not. Was this bill a step in a
direction? Absolutely! Speaker of the House
Nancy Pelosi had to make concessions to allow this bill to come to the
floor for a vote that would pass. Interestingly, the House has done their job
so it is the Senate now standing in the way for healthcare reform to take
place. In some ways, this was politics as usual, in other ways, the
introduction and passage of the bill was not. Therefore, we have movement
in a direction - we have the beginnings of a new health policy. (And how cool
was it that Dingell sounded the
initial gavel? If you don't know the historical significance of this, read here).
Change is usually not easy; however, we make changes daily
whether or not we recognize them. Imagine doing something for so long that you
don't know that what you are doing may have a different way to be done. Maybe
it's pronouncing a word or singing lyrics
incorrectly. To you, this is all you know ergo correct, but maybe it's not.
Someone corrects your language or you hear someone singing the correct lyrics
and boom, you are made aware of a
discrepancy in what you have always known as accurate. Sadly, this has not been
true for healthcare. The current healthcare system has been working ineffectively
for years, and knowingly doing so, but despite being made aware of the
inaccuracy of this approach, nothing has been done. While it may not hurt too
much to change the way you say a word or sing a song accurately, it
may hurt to change an entire system, which is responsible for taking care
of what is often most precious to us, our health.
Tying this all together, there remains an opportunity to
continue the inertia behind healthcare while still advocating for change.
Collaborative care, as a field, is not directly addressed in the House bill.
Does this mean that we cannot still push for policies on better care through
integration and defragmentation? No, it means that we still have our work cut
out for us. Stay involved in the national policy discussion, but act locally.
Talk about this with your friends, family and colleagues. Inform the
misinformed. Call and email your representatives to tell them what you think
about healthcare. Use your voice. Change may be hard and occasionally hurt, but
it begins with the recognition that there needs to be a change. There is no
better place this is true than within healthcare.
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