Writing at the intersection of motherhood, feminism and my Latinidad

20 September 2009

How About We Get Rid Of The Death Panels We Already Have? - From Awearness

One of the enduring myths about health care reform is that of the death panel (Thanks Sarah! You too, Betsy!). The idea that the government might set up panels of non-medical or even medical experts to decide who lives and who doesn't scares people. Little do they know it's already happening--and that we pay for those panels through our insurance premiums.

It happened to Crystal Lee Sutton, the woman whose real life inspired the 1979 film Norma Rae.


Sutton died of cancer last week. While she was fighting the illness she battled with her health insurance company, which delayed her treatment. In 2008 The Burlington Times News reported the story:



She went two months without possible life-saving medications because her insurance wouldn't cover it, another example of abusing the working poor, she said. "How in the world can it take so long to find out (whether they would cover the medicine or not) when it could be a matter of life or death," she said. "It is almost like, in a way, committing murder."

That wasn't a government "death panel." That was an insurance company. It could happen to any one of us.

Yesterday Senate Finance Committee Chairman Senator Max Baucus finally revealed his compromise health care bill, which, while it has some problems, does say that insurance companies can't drop you due to pre-existing conditions or after you become sick. But it doesn't address the problem that may have cost Crystal months or years of her life--the fact that unknown executives at insurance companies are making decisions about our medical care.

First we had Sen. Kennedy die during this debate, now we have "Norma Rae". How many more icons whose dying wish is for health care reform must we lose before we finally say ENOUGH? Let's pass health care reform that allows for everyone to be covered and puts medical decisions back in the hands of the people who are treating us, not just reading our file.

1 comments:

Thank you for making a point that I've been saying for MONTHS. The health-care bureaucracy already exists, even if not everyone sees it.