Fixing health care: Americans have their say

Staffers for President-Elect Barack Obama have started the task of wading through the hundreds of comments, reflections and ideas that emerged during a series of community health care discussions last month.

Thousands of Americans participated in the grassroots groups to have their say about the health care system.

Even Tom Daschle, Obama’s nominee for Health and Human Services Secretary, attended two of the discussions, one hosted in the fire hall in Dublin, Ind., and the other at a wellness center in Washington, D.C. - and, as the New York Times reports, "got an earful about expenses that were too high and coverage that was too little."

Dolly Sweet, 79, said she beat breast cancer 20 years ago but was now battling lung cancer without the medicine her doctor had prescribed. Ms. Sweet told Mr. Daschle that after covering her radiation treatment, Medicare would not pay for follow-up treatment with the drug, Tarceva, which would have cost $32,000 a year.

“Then what happened?” Mr. Daschle asked.

“I’m still here,” she replied. “You always look over your shoulder and see someone else who’s worse off.”

There’s lots to worry about, as the news coverage in the Palladium-Item of Richmond, Ind., describes:

Deanna Russell of Cambridge City worries about the future health insurance of her 13-year-old son because he was born with a congenital heart problem.

Joe Fouts, office manager at the Bertschland Family Practice Clinic, is concerned about the time and hassle involved in filing insurance claims for patients.

Joe Fouts, office manager at the Bertschland Family Practice Clinic, is concerned about the time and hassle involved in filing insurance claims for patients.

Dublin Fire Chief Bob French worries about where the money will come from to pay for a trained medic and additional equipment that will be required for the department’s ambulance by 2010.

Dr. Bill Ducey wonders why Medicaid will pay him to amputate a limb of a diabetic, but won’t pay for the preventive measures that might have saved the limb.

Click here to read more about the discussion and watch video footage from the community health care discussion in Indiana. And for more video of Daschle’s response to health issues in the Citizen’s Briefing Book that is being put together by the president-elect’s team, click here.