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Posted by on Jul 17, 2009 in Politics | 3 comments

Health Reform: Urgency and Patience

Here’s a candidate for understatement of the year: Many people are anxious for Congress to finalize a health care reform bill that both chambers can live with and send to the President for signature.

Despite my past-month handwringing over the costs of such legislation, I entirely understand and empathize with the anxiety of those “many people.”

Take the case of a family I know quite well:

    Their only child is now a legal adult, but he still qualifies as a dependent because he’s a full-time college student and thus can be covered by the insurance plan of his father’s employer — at least for a few more years.

    What the parents in this family didn’t fully appreciate until recently was that, if they both died in a tragedy, their only child would be forced to find an alternate health plan.

    Problem #1: Their only child has a pre-existing condition that requires expensive medication; he’s a prime candidate for rejection by insurers offering individual plans.

    Problem #2: His age and pre-existing condition would likely prevent him from holding down a traditional, full-time, salaried job, which is often a pre-requisite for an employer-provided health plan.

    Problem #3: Without his medication, this young man will suffer incredibly and might not be able to hold down even a part-time job.

This family’s scenario alone opens up my reluctant, skeptical mind to a “public option” — or at least non-profit “cooperatives” that are required to not reject anyone for a pre-existing condition.

Even then, even with this family’s situation in mind, I can also appreciate the recent call for patience — for a little more time to study and debate and work through options — from a group of six senators.

Money quote from their letter to Senate Leaders Reid and McConnell:

While we are committed to providing relief for American families as quickly as possible, we believe taking additional time to achieve a bipartisan result is critical for legislation that affects 17 percent of our economy and every individual in the U.S.