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Coverage is the real health crisis

By G. Michael Dobbs
Managing Editor
I don't know about your family and friends, but the following recently happened in our circle.
The son of a very close friend — a young man not yet 30 — is fighting cancer. He had an operation and chemotherapy, went into remission and the cancer returned. He has had additional chemotherapy and appears to be on the road to recovery, but his doctors wanted to run a PT Scan. This test would confirm their results.
His insurance company said no.
An elderly relative of ours is battling a number of health related issues. Her doctor sent her to a specialized hospital ward for 10 days for necessary observation.
Her insurance company said no. It cut her stay to five days.
She has had asthma for years. The insurance company told her it would longer accept the prescription for the inhaler she has long used under the co-pay agreement.
When I witness for myself these kinds of incidents, I bristle at the notion that many people repeat like parrots, "We have the best healthcare system in the world."
They then usually bleat out some talking points about socialized medicine, Obamacare and death panels.
There is little wrong with our healthcare providers. There are great doctors, technicians, nurses and therapists working in organizations committed to providing the best care possible in this nation.
I have no beef with them. It's not a healthcare problem. It's a health insurance problem.
"Death panels?" While the Obama legislation had nothing to do about deciding who lives or dies — it's a great lie as counseling someone over end of life decisions is not euthanasia — we have plenty of people who make decisions on a daily basis that can affect the quality and length of a person's life.
They are called insurance companies and you pay for the privilege.
The political theater over repealing the recently passed health insurance legislation will probably amount to just more time wasted and more talking heads spitting out the same old rhetoric.
I wonder if any of these critics would like to sit down with the people I know and honestly see what their lives are like as they cope with illnesses that are not of their making.
Perhaps if they had a similar situation in their family, they would think differently. I'd like to think so.
***

It's January and a young legislator's fancy turns to — casino gambling?
Yes, the new session of the General Court of the Com-monwealth of Massachusetts has begun complete with a bunch of bright and shiny new legislators ready to tackle the important issue of how to keep the state solvent without a big rainy day account or stimulus money.
But in the meantime, the issue of expanded gaming hangs in the air like last night's fish dinner. Or, considering your viewpoint, perhaps the lingering odors of a soiled cat box?
Either way, isn't it time to get this legislation completed? I think so and we need to do it in a fashion that at least suggests transparency.
That means sticking to Gov. Deval Patrick's assertion there shouldn't be any sweetheart deals with the granting of slot parlors to racetracks.
If we're going to do it, then let's do it.
Clearly with the expansion of local "Internet caf s" or gaming centers — at which people play games which could win them money, but by current state law isn't considered to be gambling — there is an interest in having casino games in the area.
I'm intrigued by these businesses as they have everything to lose if the folks in Boston come to terms and casinos become a reality. No one would be interested in this brand of entertainment once real gambling is legal and close by.
Hey, agree with me? Disagree? Drop me a line at news@thereminder.com or at 280 N. Main St., East Longmeadow, MA 01028. And as always, this column represents the opinion of its author and not the publishers or advertisers of this newspaper.

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