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Monroe/Seattle House Party Report

Monroe/Seattle Healthcare House Party
The Raw Story

We promptly start later than anticipated because one participant wanted cocoa.

The Participant noted: “This really is like a Tupperware party. It seems like it’s a party because there are little wieners with toothpicks in them, but really, it’s about selling you Tupperware.”

The Host went through the goals as stated in the Moderator’s packet:

The host should go over the three goals of the Health Care Community Discussion mentioned above, i.e. 1) To discuss health care reform and draft a submission to the Transition Health Policy Team; 2) To use a process to do this that respects and empowers attendees; and 3) To identify stories that exemplify the need for health care reform. Please stress that everyone should conduct the meeting like President-elect Obama would: respecting everyone, listening to everyone’s opinion, and engaging in spirited discussion without being disagreeable.

The Participant moved that we not hold our meeting the way Obama would hold a meeting because mocking people you don’t agree with isn’t conducive to progress. The Host agrees to not hold the meeting in Obama style, but wants to mock people anyway because it is funny.

While the Participant was making the cocoa, the Host searched the documents for the template for the group submission on health care reform, as stated in the Moderator packet:

Explanation of Submission to the Transition Health Policy Team: A key goal of the discussion is the drafting of a group submission on health care reform to the Transition Health Policy Team. This Guide contains a suggested template for the group submission. The moderator should read through this template before the discussion starts.

The Host was perplexed at what this means. Submit what? On what? What’s the format? The Participant took over searching for the template as the Host is better at the cocoa making and the Participant is better at finding things.

The Participant commented that the Host is doing a good job of empowering her.

So, making a wild-ass guess, the Host and Participant decided that the list of questions on page 6 of the Moderator’s packet is what Team Obama means when they say template.

Suggested Health Care Community Discussion
Group Submission

General Questions:

How many people attended your health care community discussion?

Two. Plus two cats with opinions. But they slept through the whole thing.

Please summarize compelling personal stories from attendees about the need for health care reform in our country and provide their contact information.

The Host doesn’t know if these qualify as compelling, but what the hell.

We each run our own small business and are each self-insured. We each spend a considerable amount of money for health insurance and out-of-pocket costs for health care. And there is no end in sight. Each of us has seen our premiums rise every year and have chosen to forego certain kinds of coverage to make sure we’ll be covered in case of a catastrophic medical event.

Among the people we know, including family, we see tremendous inequity regarding access, level, and quality of care. For example, while one of our parents was at the Cleveland Clinic receiving world-class heart surgery, another participant’s brother’s bypass team at a local under funded community hospital left nine needles in his chest during surgery. Good thing another sibling, who is a physician, was able to keep everyone calm and point out that the surgical team had procedures in case of stupid mistakes like this. But this was only after he took a moment and gave a deep sigh as he organized his thoughts on how to explain medical error.

It was great the brother was able to get necessary bypass surgery to save his life and he had health insurance so the financial burden on his family has been manageable. But having health insurance is no guarantee you’ll get high quality care. Inequities exist, and will always exist, in a for-profit system because that is the way for businesses to make money.

On the other hand, yet another sibling hauled his son to the Mayo Clinic to find out why the kid always had a stomach ache. This was after years of tests and specialists. The Mayo Clinic agreed to see him because mom and dad work for the federal government and have kick-ass insurance. (The boy is fine. He has acid reflux and gets a lot of attention for being sick.)

[At this moment the Participant noted that she had not put enough liquor in the cocoa. So sad.]

Summary of Responses from Discussion Questions:

What does the group perceive as the biggest problem in the health system?
The health insurance industry.

How do attendees choose a doctor or hospital? Where do attendees get information in making that decision? How should public policy promote quality health care providers?
The Participant promptly answered the first question, “I have insurance. I looked at the list of providers and I picked someone close. Who wants to be vomiting while driving thirty miles? I have to pee.”

The Host said, “The only question worth answering is the third one.”

The Participant, who peed in record time, returned and said, “Doesn’t public policy already promote quality health care providers with licensing and stuff?”

The Host replied in the affirmative and then asked if she could have an Excedrin for migraines.

The Participant replied, “They’re not allowed to call them “For Migraines” anymore.”

Have attendees or their family members experienced difficulty paying medical bills? How can policy makers address this problem?

Difficulty paying medical bills? Yes. This is the kind of question asked by someone who has never had to pay for their own healthcare.

How can policy makers address this problem?
Enact single payer.

In addition to employer-based coverage, would the group like the option to purchase a private plan through an insurance-exchange or a public plan like Medicare?

What do you mean, “in addition to?” This is manipulative bullshit.

How can people afford to purchase anything if the costs of employer-based healthcare plans put companies out of business and they lose their jobs? Or if the insurance plans you’re going to mandate are so barebones that any medical event forces people into financial hardship?

Did attendees know how much they or their employer pays for health insurance? What should employer’s role be in a reformed health care system?

Yes, we know how much we pay. But thanks for treating us like dumbasses.

Employers shouldn’t be involved other than to pass on withholding that goes for single payer. If you insist that employers provide health insurance, how long before they demand their employees give them health information, including DNA testing information? And how long before they choose not to promote or hire someone based on health status, or potential health status, because of cost to the company in higher premiums?

Mandating employer-funded health insurance means employers will either fire employees or hire them back as subcontractors so they need not pay for any benefits, or violate the privacy of their employees even more than they already do. You can say laws will protect employees from such practices, but people will always find a way around doing what’s right if there is more money to be made or saved in doing what’s wrong.

Were attendees familiar with the types of preventive services Americans should receive? Had attendees gotten the recommended prevention? If not, how can public policy help?

We do regular breast exams. Heh.

Yes, we know about preventive services.

Host: Wait---what if they offered free colonoscopies? You know, here you go a free colon check, happy birthday!

Participant: I thought that happened every April 15.

This is another insidious question as it’s designed to elicit a specific response about how we can all do better in getting preventive care. How can you get preventive care when it will cost you $1,000 you don’t have? What’s preventing people from getting preventive care? Empty fucking wallets.

You can talk about how we should all take more responsibility for our health, but who should set the bar? Government? Or me and my doctor? What’s next? A law penalizing people for not eating organic lettuce? A healthy lifestyle is expensive---access to clean water, air, and food, time to go to the gym, affordable childcare and time off work to get preventive screenings like stress tests, safe vehicles, safe homes, safe healthcare, and other stuff. As it is, healthcare now is harmful to your wallet and that hurts your health.

Even a person is exemplary in taking care of their health, unavoidable things happen: old age, accidents, genetic disorders, disease, infection, medical mistakes—all the prevention in the world will not stop these, but we can help people know that they can rely on a healthcare system—not health insurance, but healthcare—that is in place for things happen. Prevention is good but it is not a guarantee for good health.

Participant: I am really offended by this question.

Host: Because it’s manipulative?

Participant: Yes, but I already told you I thought it was manipulative and you’re putting it in there now to make it seem like you thought of it first.

Host: Is there more cocoa?

Participant: No. And I have to go pee. Next time there should be less coffee and cocoa.

How can public policy promote healthier lifestyles?

How about Pres.-elect Obama quit smoking? What do you call it when someone insists you take responsibility for your health while they’re puffing on a Camel? Oh yes. Hypocrite.

Participant: I don’t really care so much about that. Everyone does something like that---

Host: Drive too fast, drink too much, smoke, not wear a seatbelt, not wear safety goggles---

Participant: Get pregnant without bothering to find out if you have a genetic disorder you can pass on---

Host: That’s a big one.

Participant: But everyone has something. I’d prefer public policy stick to what it’s good at instead of trying to regulate my every step. I wish they’d get out of my way to access to good healthcare.

Host: You mean, by cutting through the system we have now?

Participant: Okay.

Host: And enacting single payer?

Participant: You didn’t say that. You just typed it.

Host: Typing is just like saying, only with better grammar.

Participant: I don’t even need to be here. I just wasted two hours. I bill by the hour you know.

Stop delaying single payer. Lower people’s stress and help them take responsibility for their health by being able to ask for information and health without facing stiff penalties in the form of denial of care, higher insurance premiums, and high deductibles. Not knowing what something is going to cost, how you’re going to pay for it, or if you can even afford treatment causes unnecessary anxiety. Delaying treatment for these reasons causes unnecessary pain.

The Cooked Story (what we uploaded to change.gov/reportback

Suggested Health Care Community Discussion
Group Submission

General Questions:

How many people attended your health care community discussion?

Two. Plus two cats with opinions. But they slept through the whole thing.

Please summarize compelling personal stories from attendees about the need for health care reform in our country and provide their contact information.

We each run our own small business and are each self-insured. We each spend a considerable amount of money for health insurance and out-of-pocket costs for health care. And there is no end in sight. Each of us has seen our premiums rise every year and have chosen to forego certain kinds of coverage to make sure we’ll be covered in case of a catastrophic medical event.

Among the people we know, including family, we see tremendous inequity regarding access, level, and quality of care. For example, while one of our parents was at the Cleveland Clinic receiving world-class heart surgery, another participant’s brother’s bypass team at a local underfunded community hospital left nine needles in his chest during surgery. Good thing another sibling, who is a physician, was able to keep everyone calm and point out that the surgical team had procedures in case of stupid mistakes like this. But this was only after he took a moment and gave a deep sigh as he organized his thoughts on how to explain medical error.

It was great the brother was able to get necessary bypass surgery to save his life and he had health insurance so the financial burden on his family has been manageable. But having health insurance is no guarantee you’ll get high quality care. Inequities exist, and will always exist, in a for-profit system because that is the way for businesses to make money.

Summary of Responses from Discussion Questions:

What does the group perceive as the biggest problem in the health system?
The health insurance industry.

How do attendees choose a doctor or hospital? Where do attendees get information in making that decision? How should public policy promote quality health care providers?

One participant promptly answered the first question, “I have insurance. I looked at the list of providers and I picked someone close. Who wants to be vomiting while driving thirty miles?”

Have attendees or their family members experienced difficulty paying medical bills? How can policy makers address this problem?

Difficulty paying medical bills? Yes. This is the kind of question asked by someone who has never had to pay for their own healthcare.

How can policy makers address this problem?

Enact single payer.

In addition to employer-based coverage, would the group like the option to purchase a private plan through an insurance-exchange or a public plan like Medicare?

What do you mean, “in addition to?” This is manipulative BS.

How can people afford to purchase anything if the costs of employer-based healthcare plans put companies out of business and they lose their jobs? Or if the insurance plans you’re going to mandate are so barebones that any medical event forces people into financial hardship?

Did attendees know how much they or their employer pays for health insurance? What should employer’s role be in a reformed health care system?

Yes, we know how much we pay.

Employers shouldn’t be involved other than to pass on withholding that goes for single payer. If you insist that employers provide health insurance, how long before they demand their employees give them health information, including DNA testing information? And how long before they choose not to promote or hire someone based on health status, or potential health status, because of cost to the company in higher premiums?

Mandating employer-funded health insurance means employers will fire employees and hire them back as subcontractors so they need not pay for any benefits or violate the privacy of their employees even more than they already do. You can say laws will protect employees from such practices, but people will always find a way around doing what’s right if there is more money to be made or saved in doing what’s wrong.

Were attendees familiar with the types of preventive services Americans should receive? Had attendees gotten the recommended prevention? If not, how can public policy help?

This is another insidious question designed to elicit a specific response about how we can all do better in getting preventive care. How can you get preventive care when it will cost you $1,000 you don’t have? What’s preventing people from getting preventive care? Empty wallets.

You can talk about how we should all take more responsibility for our health, but who should set the bar? Government? Or me and my doctor? A healthy lifestyle is expensive---access to clean water, air, and food, time to go to the gym, affordable childcare and time off work to get preventive screenings like stress tests, safe vehicles, safe homes, safe healthcare, and other stuff. As it is, healthcare now is harmful to your wallet and that hurts your health.

Even a person is exemplary in taking care of their health, unavoidable things happen: old age, accidents, genetic disorders, disease, infection, medical mistakes—all the prevention in the world will not stop these, but we can help people know that they can rely on a healthcare system—not health insurance, but healthcare—that is in place for things happen. Prevention is good but it is not a guarantee for good health.

How can public policy promote healthier lifestyles?

Stop delaying single payer. Lower people’s stress and help them take responsibility for their health by being able to ask for information and health without facing stiff penalties in the form of denial of care, higher insurance premiums, and high deductibles. Not knowing what something is going to cost, how you’re going to pay for it, or if you can even afford treatment causes unnecessary anxiety. Delaying treatment for these reasons causes unnecessary pain.

The Response after uploading:

Thanks for reporting back

Thanks for telling us about your health care community discussion. Your contribution will play a pivotal role in helping Secretary-designate Daschle and the Transition Health Policy Team shape reform.

Pivotal. Huh.

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DCblogger's picture
Submitted by DCblogger on

thank you for doing this and this hilarious report. I truly was laughing out loud, the dog came out to see what I was laughing at.

I hope they get a lot like this.

Submitted by ohio on

I am not responsible. I plead diminished capacity.

We did try to answer the report honest answers and without, you know, adult language, but it was frustrating. The questions were designed not to elicit an honest response, but to drive the conversation elsewhere.

Oh, well. And yes, a lot of the exchanges were verbatim. The fab GF is hilarious.

Submitted by hipparchia on

i noticed you left the breast exams off the final report.

my guess is all they want reported back are the three questions with multiple choice answers on the last page, since the website has dropdown menus for number of people choosing each of the pre-defined options.

yes, they want us all to get on board with their pre-defined program.

Submitted by ohio on

funny, true, and it had breasts.

What's not to like?

But Iwas trying to be respectful and not have adult language or situations in our responses. It was really hard.

Submitted by hipparchia on

it was funny. i laughed out loud when i got to that part.

but you're probably right about the 'respectful' part.