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Questions about health care letter

New Salisbury, Ind.

What follows is an open letter to Ms. Linda Shafer, who has recently written two lengthy letters to the Clarion News opposing the new health care legislation.

Dear Ms. Shafer,

I read with interest your letters on the new health care legislation that were published in the Clarion. It is clear that you have invested a great deal of time thinking about this new bill.

I have not been able to invest as much time as you, although I have been following the issue closely. So, I do not feel able to respond to every accusation you have made about the contents of the new bill.

But even if these claims are true, I think there is another perspective from which they can be viewed.

You end your latest letter (published in the issue of May 26) with a warning that "our very lives are at stake" if the new bill becomes the law of the land.

I do not know you, and I do not know what kinds of problems you may be facing with regard to your personal health care. Perhaps you are older and fear being denied some procedure because of cost-cutting in Medicare. If so, as an older person myself, I sympathize.

But I could not help but think that there are people you do not acknowledge whose lives really ARE at stake in this debate:

Your neighbor whose child was born with a fatal illness and who cannot get insurance for this "pre-existing condition" and, thus, cannot pay for the medication that will keep her alive;

Your co-worker who has just come down with a potentially fatal illness but who has been dropped by his insurance company and now must add the stress of paying for health care on top of losing his home and possibly his job because of his illness; and

Your church sister and brother who cannot afford anything but catastrophic insurance and, therefore, cannot get the routine screenings that will detect her early cancer and prevent her early death. (I had one of the policies for several years — no annual physicals, no cholesterol meds, no mammograms for me.)

Let's assume that much of what you have been saying is true. I submit that it doesn't matter if every business in this country has to generate a hundred new 1099s if that child can have her medications and live. (Hey, someone will get a job doing that paperwork!) Let's assume that I, at 85, am told (as, at a much earlier age, I was recently told by my insurance company) that they will not pay for a particular procedure because it is not part of their regular protocol, despite my doctor's prescribing it. Is my getting the treatment I was denied, which turned out to be one of many options, worth that co-worker's home, job and life? Let's even assume that some of us have to pay a bit more in taxes. How would you tell your church sister that you wouldn't pay another $100 a year so that she and many others like her could live?

It's almost certainly true that the current bill is not perfect, that it contains mistakes and that some parts of it will have unintended consequences. I, for one, was not pleased with every provision. But remember that old saying about walking a mile in another person's shoes? Imagine that you (bargaining and compromising with nearly 500 other people) had tried to craft a solution to a decades-long injustice in a single piece of legislation. How would you feel if your struggles to do so had been rewarded only with name-calling and demonizing? Constructive criticism is surely needed, and legislators need to listen. I see no constructive ideas in your letters, only hate and blame.

I grew up thinking that Americans cared about each other and cared for more than just money. The Americans who want to see their neighbors, co-workers and friends suffer and, in fact, die because they are so afraid they might be personally inconvenienced in some way are not the people I grew up believing in.

I know that you won't search your conscience; you are too committed to a particular ideological view. But someone had to answer, not the "facts" you had to offer, but the spirit of your letters. I hope others will search their own consciences in asking, not whether what you say is true, but whether what you say is what really matters.

As for your fear that health care will be rationed, it doesn't take much common sense to see that it is already being rationed. The people I have named are not getting it. I am so sorry that you are working so hard to see that they never do.

Virginia Anderson
June 09, 2010

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    June 11, 2010 | 03:00 PM

    This lady is truly an intelligent, diplomatic and informed person. She said it so much better than many of us could. Linda Shafer only has her Tea Party opinions and idealistic banter that's only goal is to bash the President. The Republicans lost the last election maybe someday the'll grow up and quit whining about it and help pull us together and out of the mess they helped create.

    Proud of little ol ladies

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