Thursday, August 27, 2009

Healthcare Reform and the Great Lakes. Are they related?

I was trying to figure out how I could tie in healthcare reform issues with the Great Lakes. I wanted to do this because I attended a Town Hall Meeting put on by Congressman Paul Ryan the other day and I did not have the opportunity to express my opinions at that meeting. Of course, I really do not have to make any tie at all. The wonderful thing about a blog is that I can say what I want to say, but to be true to myself I had to connect these two issues.

One way I can make this connection is to compare healthcare in the two countries that bound the Great Lakes. That’s easy, as healthcare was a frequent topic of conversation with my Canadian relatives last week. This is not the first time we have had these conversations and I always come away from them feeling like the “poor American cousin – she and her family pay so much for healthcare. What kind of a country does she live in, anyway?”

To a one, my Canadian cousins are satisfied with their healthcare system. They are aware of its limitations but still see it as better than the current system in the United States. One of my cousins, who is single and approaching 60 years old, recently lost her job. She is a bit concerned about finances, wondering whether she will be able to stay in her house, or if she will need to downsize. But she is not a bit concerned about her healthcare, and that is a definite load off her shoulders. As someone who pays for private healthcare insurance because I have no employer, and it is a significant expense even for a healthy person, I wish I had that load off my shoulders. In so many ways, Canada is a conservative country but not when it comes to healthcare. I wish my conservative congressman would remember that point.

Congressman Ryan spoke a lot about rationing at that town hall meeting and is concerned, as were so many in the crowd, that government control means that some bureaucrat will decide how their doctors will practice medicine. Who do they think decides it now? Insurance companies may call it cost containment but they have a great deal of influence on how doctors practice medicine and how the rest of us receive it.

Today, I came across a second way to tie in these two issues when I opened my email and found a referral to an article on the website Great Lakes Echo. The headline reads: Federal agency proposes to study urine and blood of residents to evaluate effectiveness of Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. The article describes a proposal to check on Great Lakes contaminants by measuring the level of these substances in Great Lakes residents. If the Great Lakes are healthier, the residents in the Great Lakes Basin should be healthier, too, right? Stands to reason. As a former medical technologist, I think it’s a great idea – not only would it provide some solid data, it would also employ a few med techs. All in all a good proposal, I think.

The truth is that healthcare ties into everything. It doesn’t take much to make connections. Right now, I like the idea of healthier people living near healthier lakes on both sides of the Great Lakes. Now that would be something, wouldn’t it?

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