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11 Responses

  1. Anne
    Anne March 5, 2009 at 9:15 am | | Reply

    thanks for the update, Amy.

  2. Mandy
    Mandy March 5, 2009 at 9:38 am | | Reply

    I’m sorry. I want health care reform as much as anyone with a chronic illness, but NOW? I mean we are already throwing massive amounts of money around to try and crawl out of this economic hole. This IS NOT the time, and universal health care is hard to plan for in a stable economy. I think that a lot of people think all of this money coming out of Washington so quickly and freely is “free”, but it’s NOT! We are paying for it everyday in all sorts of taxes. What we accrue in debt will be coming off our checks later. We may end up with some care that’s more affordable, but we’ll need it since we won’t have any money left in our paychecks to buy anything else we need.

    sorry for the rant…I’m just frustrated and fearful where our government is headed.

  3. Rosalind Joffe
    Rosalind Joffe March 5, 2009 at 10:19 am | | Reply

    I find myself similarly skeptical (at least it sounds like you are after listening to these guys). I hear our President and want to “believe” that he is going to fix this. But I’ve yet to hear an idea that sounds as if it could actually be implemented and workable. It’s my opinion such a system would guarantee that every American is entitled to the best possible healthcare and that healthcare delivery would lean heavily toward prevention. Such a simple concept but would require too much change to happen. Does that make me a cynic?

  4. Manny Hernandez
    Manny Hernandez March 5, 2009 at 10:47 am | | Reply

    The statistic of daily diagnoses is VERY alarming! Thanks for the update, Amy-ga.

  5. Lauren
    Lauren March 5, 2009 at 9:05 pm | | Reply

    36K new cases of type 1, or type 2, or both? I’m guessing it’s type 2 alone but correct me if I’m wrong. I don’t think the types should be lumped together in any way, it only furthers the ignorance out there.

  6. Edwin Seow
    Edwin Seow March 6, 2009 at 1:19 am | | Reply

    36k of new diabetes cases every day is an alarming rate. More should be done to educate people, especially the prediabetics as they can prevent themselves from adding to the number of diabetes.

  7. Joe
    Joe March 6, 2009 at 5:53 am | | Reply

    Obama’s idea of healthcare reform is the nationilization of our system to be like Great Britain and Canada where a “National Rationing Board” makes healthcare decisions. Key word = RATIONIING. As someone with Type 1 for 30 years, I have a vested interest in being able to control my own healthcare decisions and as a healthcare provider also with a master degree in healthcare administration, I have seen the problems from the provider side as well. I want to make my own healthcare decisions, not a bureaucrat. I have seen rationing of healthcare when working at a VA hospital and it is not efficient or patient driven. We need reform, yes, but via changes in the marketplace and third party payors, centered on PATIENT CHOICE, not government control.

  8. jules
    jules March 6, 2009 at 9:28 am | | Reply

    Things are going to get far worse under the Obama plan. First of all, there isn’t enough money. Even when the administration succeeds in redistributing all the wealth of the middle and upper income producers, it’s still not enough. Think of your experience at the DMV or the U.S. Post Office. That’s what’s in store for us. I’m currently stocking up on test strips, needles, omni-pods, and misc. diabetes supplies. I am scheduling all the recommended tests for my age group. I’m strict about what I put in my mouth, keep good records, and despite my many auto-immune conditions, I feel pretty good. I guess my point is…things aren’t going to get better for a long long time and we have to prepare for the worst. The stock market doesn’t lie (Omni Pod down 42% since yesterday.) I understand why everyone has put all of the health hope in Obama, but he doesn’t have a clue either. Plan for the worst and hope for the best.

  9. Don Sakers
    Don Sakers March 7, 2009 at 2:42 pm | | Reply

    Mandy: If it wasn’t a good time for health care reform in the 1990s when the economy as great, and it isn’t a good time now because the economy is bad…then when WILL it be a good time?

    Joe: Health care is rationed under the current system. I have half a dozen diabetic friends who don’t have health insurance, and so are denied the care, equipment, and medications they need. My friend Amanda died at age 49 because she didn’t make the cut in the current rationing system (self-employed daycare owner, couldn’t afford test strips or insulin). Rather than rationing by income/employment as we do now, let’s try a more compassionate rationing system.

    Jules: Rather than the DMV or Post Office, I think a better model of what to expect is diabetic care in Canada or most Western European countries. Ask folks who live there if they are satisfied with the care they get. I think you’ll find that an overwhelming majority are.

    Sorry to be so stringent, but having lost a close friend to the current healthcare system (Amanda and I were diagnosed within a year of each other…but I’m lucky enough to have health insurance, so I got to live), and having a civil union partner who can’t afford to get health care of his own and isn’t allowed on mine despite 20+ years together (thank goodness he hasn’t developed any chronic conditions or had any serious injuries…yet) — well, I feel pretty frustrated at this system that lets rich and fortunate people live while the poor and unlucky can go ahead and die. I’m grasping at every straw of hope that Mr. Obama can hold out to me.

  10. Joe
    Joe March 8, 2009 at 10:27 pm | | Reply

    I don?t want to turn this board into a political statement on healthcare. However, this is an issue that should transcend politics and one I obviously feel very strongly about.

    Don, I?m truly sorry about your friend. When someone dies due to lack of access to healthcare that is a true crying shame at best and a true sin at worst. I strongly agree that healthcare reform is what is needed.

    However, I?d argue that the reform should come not in the form of government control, in a system where a centralized bureaucratic decision making process decides our fate, but a reform that includes, consumer choice and decisions made by the patients and doctors. A system such as the consumer-choice system available to members of congress is a step in the right direction, not a Canadian or European model of government controlled healthcare.
    We can have a true safety net to stop the type of horrible situations as your friend, but we do not need to take away the FREEDOM of each American to make their own choices affecting their healthcare. No system is perfect that is for sure, however before you hold those countries? systems as the goal, I?d beg you and the millions of Americans who share that view to do some thorough and objective research.

    Let?s look at Great Britain as an example of what you advocate. In Great Britain, the National Institute on Clinical Excellence (NICE), is the bureaucratic decision maker, that dictates guidelines for the National Health Service (NHS).
    To quote Betsy McCaughey at Bloomberg.com, in 2006 NICE ?decreed that elderly patients with macular degeneration had to wait until they went blind in one eye before they could get a costly new drug to save the other eye.”

    Are you Kidding me? Unfortunately NO! Will we as diabetics have to lose one kidney before they prescibe a costly new drug to stop kidney disease. Sounds far fetched, but I bet not to people in Great Britain with macular degeneration.

    This is not an isolated incident either. McCaughey goes on to report, ?NICE approves or rejects treatments using a formula that divides the cost of the treatment by the number of years the patient is likely to benefit.” Seniors often end up on the short end of the stick and as McCaugey goes on to state, ?This leaves senior citizens at a great disadvantage, because they have fewer years left to enjoy the benefits of any medical treatment. As a result, McCaughey continues, “Treatments for younger patients are more often approved than treatments for diseases that affect the elderly, such as osteoporosis.”
    She is referring to the NICE decision to deny approval for the osteoporosis drug Protelos. NICE officials claimed that it was too pricey to be covered by the country’s public insurance system. Never mind that research shows that Protelos’s cheaper alternatives aren’t effective for one out of every five osteoporosis patients. Countless Britons will now suffer from preventable bone fractures.

    See a pattern here?

    If you don’t believe a system that operates like that is the goal of the Obama Administration, look at his first choice of Secretary of Health and Human Services, Tom Daschle.

    As Peter Ferrara writes in the American Spectator, “Daschle wrote a book in which he proposed an appointed body with vast powers to make the “tough” decisions elected politicians won’t make. The stimulus bill does that, and calls it the Federal Coordinating Council for Comparative Effectiveness Research. The goal, Daschle’s book explained, is to slow the development and use of new medications and technologies because they are driving up costs. He praises Europeans for being more willing to accept “hopeless diagnoses” and “forego experimental treatments,” and he chastises Americans for expecting too much from the health care system.”

    Yep, you read that right. We didn’t hear much about that on the campaign trail did we? I wonder why?

    You mentioned the Canadian system as well. Not much to aspire to there in my opinion and I?m sure the patients listed in the examples below would agree.
    Nadeem Esmail, Director of Health System Performance Studies at the Fraser Institute in Canada, provides some examples of experience under that system in a Wall Street Journal article:
    “In Ontario, Lindsay McCreith was suffering from headaches and seizures yet faced a four and a half month wait for an MRI scan”.He went south, and paid for an MRI scan across the border in Buffalo. The MRI revealed a malignant brain tumor. Ontario’s government system still refused to provide timely treatment, offering instead a months long wait for surgery. In the end, McCreith returned to Buffalo and paid for surgery that may have saved his life.

    In March of 2005, Ontario resident Shona Holmes began losing her vision and experienced headaches, anxiety attacks, extreme fatigue, and weight gain. Despite an MRI scan showing a brain tumor, Ms. Holmes was told she would have to wait months to see a specialist. In June, her vision deteriorating rapidly, Ms. Holmes went to the Mayo Clinic in Arizona, where she found that immediate surgery was required to prevent permanent vision loss and potentially death. Again, the government system in Ontario required more appointments and more tests, along with more wait times. Ms. Holmes returned to the Mayo clinic and paid for her surgery.

    In another example:
    Alberta resident Bill Murray waited in pain for more than a year to see a specialist for his arthritic hip. The specialist recommended a “Birmingham” hip resurfacing surgery (a state of the art procedure that gives better results than basic hip replacement)?.But government bureaucrats determined that Mr. Murray, who was 57, was “too old” to enjoy the benefits of this procedure and said no.”

    Can you imagine how this logic and type of approach can and will effect our care as diabetics if this type of system comes into play?

    Do we all fall into the specific statistical scenarios currently given to our providers etc. No. So can you imagine how bad it can be if the government uses statistics to decide what treatments a diabetic can obtain. I know, I know, insurance companies already do that. I want that to change in a reformed model, but let’s slow down before we give the reform control to the government. What have they ever done to prove they can do a good job at that? As jules points out, DMV, US Post offices, many public schools, etc, etc. leave much to be desired.

    Ever hear the cliche “close enough for government work?” That has become a cliche for a reason. I’ve worked as a healthcare clinician in a VA hospital and it is all too true to some extents.

    I?m sure you can write about numerous poor examples similar to, or in your friend’s case, worse, than the ones listed above in the current US healthcare system where people such as your friend suffered needlessly. And again, I?m sorry to hear about her experience and your loss.

    I?ve dealt with diabetes for 31 years and based my life and career around healthcare due to my own illness. One of my greatest fears is not having the control to do what is best for my own health. I’ve had the wonderful freedom to leave an MD who was not giving me the quality of care I needed and I found a much better one who has given me the ability to improve my care significantly. And I am far from “well off.”

    As a clinician and administrator, I?ve seen and done numerous computer based models on many different approaches, and there is no perfect system. We DO need reform, but not one that gives the government control. A centralized bureaucrat does not know you or your healthcare situation. We need to ensure patients and doctors retain that control but do it in a reformed system.

    Obama has already made significant moves toward a government controlled system in his “stimulus” bill. Please, please, America, let’s all slow down a little here before we go down a road we cannot turn back on.

  11. Lauren
    Lauren March 9, 2009 at 7:53 pm | | Reply

    Joe, you mention above that you are a clinician. Are you a doctor? If so, haven’t you witnessed your patients struggle under the current system?

    I have to laugh at the notion that under a private insurance system, choices are between doctors and patients. That is patently absurd. You know who makes the decisions right now? INSURANCE COMPANIES. They decide how many times a day a diabetic is allowed to test their blood sugar. They decide whether a continuous glucose monitor is “medically necessary,” even after a phyisican has declared it so. They basically decide whether someone lives or dies. That’s no exaggeration.

    I worked in a clinic where a patient with a rare form of leukemia was told by his insurance company that his disease was too obscure to be treated. Even though there was a treatment protocol created by doctors and researchers at a select few hospitals around the country, the insurance company declared that the established treatment was experimental. The insurance bureaucrats approved 2 very old, cheap chemo drugs for this patient’s condition, despite the existence of evidence that other, more expensive drugs were effective. Can you imagine the horror of that situation? Can you imagine being diagnosed with a rare form of cancer and then being told that your disease is too expensive to be treated — and you have a “good” insurance plan? And that horrible situation was not the only one I witnessed — denials for life-saving medications and treatments were fairly routine. Sometimes, if we fought hard enough, we’d get 11th hour approval. Other times, as in the situation described above, we wouldn’t.

    Test strips are not covered on my plan because they aren’t “generic.” Insulin is not “generic” either — therefore, not covered. My insurance company has declared that seeing an endocrinologist requires “pre-service review” (no, I don’t have an HMO, so I shouldn’t need pre-approval of any sort) and getting an A1c level is a “preventative medicine service” and therefore, you guessed it, NOT COVERED. On and on and on it goes.

    And I’m hardly underinsured. I have two insurance plans, Blue Cross and my school’s coverage. This system is out of control. Private health insurance is a disaster and a tragedy for many Americans. Give me Medicare any day. And someone please prosecute the people in charges of these insurance companies!

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