COMMENTARY: Put politics aside and support health care reform |

COMMENTARY: Put politics aside and support health care reform

Janice Ayres

It is unfortunate that the health care reform issue has become so politicized since it affects an estimated 46 million Americans who are without health insurance.

When something as important as health care becomes a political football, everyone loses. There has been enough misinformation out there to confuse us all. Therefore, I am going to try to dispel some myths based upon information given to me from sources with no ax to grind and who have thoroughly studied what is being proposed.

It has been stated that if reform becomes law, you will have no choice in benefits. That is untrue, as the bill says that if you are pleased with your present insurance, you can keep it.

The legislation now being considered in Congress ensures lower costs, prevention coverage, and no annual or lifetime caps on benefits. It also ensures that pre-existing conditions are covered.

Then there is the Medicare scare being used to drive away seniors’ support for the bill, by saying that reform would make it illegal to provide chemotherapy for our older Medicare folks. This is not true. Reform will actually improve Medicare benefits.

Another myth being spread is that the bill will insure people who are here illegally. The president himself has stated on television that he would never sign legislation that allowed that. That should be good enough for everyone.

As for the claim that the bill creates “death panels” for seniors – this is another scare tactic that came about from the provision that a doctor can be paid for end-of-life counseling if the senior requests it.

A public option is also a heavily debated health care issue. If approved, the requirement for the federal government to sell insurance in competition with private companies would provide states the choice not to participate. The president says that it’s not a deal breaker to the legislation he seeks. However, many folks believe the insurance monopoly should be changed and competition encouraged.

Many people are also calling for tort reform to overcome outrageous medical lawsuits that cause malpractice insurance to soar and put some physicians out of business.

There is much more to be said; however, space is limited. But just once can’t we be caring Americans and put politics aside and support this long overdue legislation? Is it perfect? No. Can it be amended? Yes. But for Heaven’s sake this has been an issue since Teddy Roosevelt’s presidency. Isn’t it our fellow Americans’ right to have affordable health care and live the healthiest life they possibly can?

• Janice R. Ayres is executive director of Nevada Rural Counties RSVP program.