During yesterday's hearing on HB 440 - which seeks to remove New Hampshire from the new health law and bar the NH Insurance Department from enforcing consumer protections - Representative Jeanine Notter of Merrimack told a member of the public that health reform is not needed because she is sure, just sure, that communities will rally around cancer patients and help them cover their costs.
This was my response, from the comment section:
I'm guessing that the last 3 years of my husband's life, as he went through treatment for multiple myeloma cost over a million dollars. He had 2 surgeries - a hip replacement and neurosurgery to implant a titanium infrastructure in his neck to hold up his head, because his cervical spine had been eaten by cancer. There were numerous bouts of radiation, numerous hospitalizations, at least one life flight, constant visits to doctors, and then there were all the drugs. Hugely expensive drugs.
As beloved as David was in our community, a million dollar bake sale might have been a stretch. Fortunately, he raised chickens.
This new legislature (in both Concord and DC) appear to be densely populated with a group of people who have the collective intelligence of a sack of doorknobs. These people are the REAL death panels.
In our community, the wage scale has been the same for 25 years. The average local worker is making about $10 an hour. It's unlikely that our community could support even one cancer patient - and there are many.
Rep. Notter appears to have created her own reality, one that bears no resemblance to the one the rest of NH residents are experiencing. My husband was beloved by all - but would the community rally around a curmudgeon? Probably not. Does someone deserve to die because they are so unpopular that no one wants to bake or buy brownies for their treatment? Isn't THAT a death panel?
Compare and contrast that to VT, where the Governor is developing a single-payer system for the state. From the Burlington Free Press:
The Shumlin administration proposes the state take two steps effective July 1: Create a health benefit exchange or marketplace called for under the federal health care law and set up a Vemront Health Reform Board to “develop payment reform and cost containment methodologies that will result in sustainable rates of growth in health care spending,” Wallack.
The next phase would begin in 2014 when the health benefit exchange begins operating. “We propose that we include in the exchange, at that time, employer groups with fewer than 100 employees,” Wallack said. “We also propose that state and municipal employees become part of the exchange, and that we integrate Medicaid, Medicare and workers’ compensation with exchange policy.”
The state would move to the final stage if and when the federal government granted Vermont waivers to establish a single, publicly financed exchange.
This is still in the planning stages, so it will be interesting to see how it works out. I'd suggest avoiding the comment section, since the bulk of them seem to have been written by Jeanine Notter supporters.
cross-posted at MainSt/workingamerica.org