In surfing the Web Monday, I came across this interesting tidbit on the blog run by Gary Schwitzer, creator of HealthNewsReview.org, a site devoted to assessing the accuracy of health news coverage. He quoted statistics from a report by the Center for Public Integrity, which claims that “there are eight lobbyists for every member of Congress.” The number of lobbyists went from about 1,400 in the first quarter of 2009 to nearly 3,700 by year’s end.
I see elderly people in the supermarket bagging groceries—some may like the company, but others are doing it to pay for medical care not covered under plans. My uncle—one of the “greatest generation”—used to cut his pills in half to make them last longer. Does this qualify as “rationing care”? Emergency rooms are full of people who waited too long to get care because they couldn’t spend the money up front; in many cases such delays end up costing both them and everyone else in the system far more than it should have. And those who oppose reform continue to proclaim that we need to tread carefully because we don’t want to ruin “the greatest health care system in the world.”
Yes, if you’re a government official, you do have great health care (and, in most cases, the ready cash to go to any out-of-network specialist you’d like even if your plan lets you down). (I made this point in AJN’s August editorial: members of Congress shouldn’t have a better health plan than the people they represent.)