A Patient’s Perspective: Why Health Care Should Be a Right by Jamie Eldridge
By State Senator Jamie Eldridge
On the morning of October 7th, 2009, I suffered a one-minute seizure that broke many of the bones in my back, strained my spine, and tore my right shoulder out of its socket. Given the seriousness of the injuries that I sustained, I was rushed to Mass. General Hospital.
I don’t remember any of the above -- but I do remember that once I was conscious, I was relieved to be at MGH, because I knew that I’d be getting arguably the best medical care in the world to fix my injuries.
The reason I had access to this care was because I am lucky enough to have comprehensive health care through my job, which would cover the three surgeries, extended care, and rehab necessary for me to recover from my injuries. It is impossible to overstate what peace of mind this gave me, my family and loved ones.
But what about those patients at MGH, and across the country, who don’t have health insurance as comprehensive as mine, or health insurance at all? What peace of mind is there for their families at an incredibly difficult time?
As I lay in bed, knowing that I was lucky enough to have excellent health insurance that would cover my treatment, I couldn’t help but think over and over about those who weren’t so lucky. How many of my fellow patients already realized that because of their poor health care coverage, their lives would never again be the same?
After two weeks at MGH, I was transferred to the Spaulding Rehabilitation Center. One day while resting in bed from physical therapy, I overheard a young, permanently disabled man hanging out in the hallway inform a fellow patient that he was being discharged a week early from Spaulding. It wasn’t that his therapy team had decided he was ready to go to the next level – it was that his insurance company had determined that they would not pay for any further comprehensive therapy at Spaulding. He was headed home, and he really wasn’t sure what he would be able to do to improve his current physical limitations.
When I spoke with one of my nurses about this reality, she told me how things had changed in health care over her twenty-three years at Spaulding. When she first started, a patient with such injuries could stay for 9 to 12 month. Today, insurance companies push for an early discharge, or simply include in their policies a cut-off date for paying for such services.
As an elected official, I’ve heard many stories like this before. But being there at the rehabilitation center as a patient myself, and observing the cruel realities of the American health care system right before my eyes, really drove the point home. How is it that in the richest country in the world, this is how our health care system works?
I’ve been a strong proponent of a “Medicare for All” health care system since first joining the Massachusetts Legislature seven years ago. I believe a single-payer system like this will best achieve the health care reform goals that many of us share, from providing health care coverage for the uninsured to improving coverage for current health insurance members, reducing health care costs, and simplifying the country’s health care delivery system.
But over the past month, as I have been focused on health care as a patient, rather than just as an elected official, I’ve become more and more convinced that any health care reform we make – single payer or otherwise – must start with the agreement that access to quality health care should be a right in this country.
There is a basic quality of care we all deserve when we are sick or injured. Yet without establishing health care as a right, there is no guarantee that every other Massachusetts citizen would be treated like I have been. In fact, absent government intervention, there are strong market, financial, and societal incentives that make it highly likely that no basic standard of treatment will exist. After all, that young disabled man was being denied proper treatment for no other reason than to save his health insurance company money.
As a society, we all benefit when individual members have access to quality health care. In my case, had I not received the right treatment within a relatively short amount of time, my life would have been changed dramatically, limiting my ability to be the most productive citizen that I could possibly be, and my ability to contribute to society and lead a happy life. It’s the same for anyone else in a similar situation.
Until we define health care as a right, there will continue to be Americans like those I have met over the past month, whose lives will be irreversibly thrown off-track by an accident or illness, whose financial insecurity will lead to greater physical problems, whose lives will be changed forever because they lacked access to quality health care.
I can think of few other instances of government action that would have as dramatic an impact on people’s lives as establishing a right to health care, or that would more positively impact every community in the country.
Visit Senator Eldridge’s website at www.senatoreldridge.com. You can contact also contact him at 617-722-1120, or via email at James.Eldridge@state.ma.us.
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Polito Announces Annual Patriotic Rally
November 2, 2009
POLITO ANNOUNCES ANNUAL PATRIOTIC RALLY
BOSTON – Representative Karyn E. Polito, R-Shrewsbury, invites you to attend a Patriotic Rally to “Celebrate America” at Indian Meadows Country Club in Westborough on November 5th. The event will feature a performance by the Shrewsbury Acapella Choir, celebrate the winners of Polito’s Annual Essay Contest “Defining the American Dream”, and will honor several influential members of the community for their commanding presence and generosity.
This year’s winners, who ranged from third graders to senior citizens from both Shrewsbury and Westborough, included Kristin Lenehan, Samuel Brownstein, Christopher Stephenson, Anthony Shea, Arielle Sigel, Elena Perkins, Georgia Eisenmann, Nelson Pang, Sarah Donovan, and Paul M. Horrigan. Essay winners have been invited to read their essays aloud and receive a cash prize from the Representative.
Polito also will present her annual Good Neighbor and Inspirational Leader awards, which will be announced the night of the event.
“Hosting this event is a great privilege for me; I enjoy bringing the community together in a spirit of patriotism and celebration of the good work that so many of our citizens are doing,” said Representative Polito. “We have had a lot of support for this year’s essay contest, and we will be announcing winners early this week. I love having the opportunity to give recognition where it is due, especially with all of the talented young writers and influential leaders in the area.”
The event will begin with a complimentary buffet dinner at 5 and presentation to follow at 6. For further information or to RSVP, please contact Kaitlyn Sprague at Representative Polito’s State House office at 617-722-2230 or 508-845-2300, or Kaitlyn.firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Polito Holds Office Hours (Nov 13 2009)
November 2, 2009
POLITO HOLDS OFFICE HOURSBoston – Representative Karyn E. Polito, R-Shrewsbury, will be holding office hours on Friday, November 13th in Shrewsbury and Westborough. She will be at the Shrewsbury Senior Center from 9:00 AM to 10:30AM, and at the Westborough Senior Center from 11:00AM to 12:00PM.
For current information, please visit www.karynpolito.com.
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McGovern email "Join my Telephone Town Hall"
[received 2-Nov-2009 -- webmaster]
Over the past few months I have held meetings with constituents throughout our district to discuss the critical issue of health insurance reform. I also pledged to hold a “telephone town hall” once the final version of the legislation was ready.
The House is scheduled to debate the health insurance bill the week of November 2nd, so on Wednesday, November 4th, I will be holding a telephone town hall to discuss the legislation and answer your questions.
Telephone town halls allow me to communicate with you from the comfort of your own home. They are a part of my continued efforts to be accessible to you in a variety of ways throughout our district.
Here's how it works:
Visit my website and complete the sign-up form, and you’ll receive a phone call at approximately 5:30 pm on Wednesday, November 4th. The phone call will invite you to join the telephone town hall. Stay on the line and within a few moments you will be able to participate.
If you have a question you’d like to ask me live on the call, you’ll have the option to connect with a member of my staff, who will put you in the queue. While we will not be able to get to every question, I’ll do my best to get to as many questions as possible.
I hope you can join me on November 4th. It is a privilege to serve you in the United States Congress.
Member of Congress
Representative Dykema Addresses Massachusetts Grange Convention
Representative Dykema Addresses Massachusetts Grange Convention
Boston, MA - Representative Carolyn C. Dykema addressed the 137th annual Massachusetts State Grange Convention on October 23, 2009, speaking of the need to support the agriculture economy in the Commonwealth.
“Local farming is part of our history and our future. We need to work for policy that balances our need for housing and development with our need to protect a sustainable and safe food supply,” Representative Dykema told farmers assembled at the Doubletree Hotel in Milford.
“As demand for locally grown products increases, it’s even more important that the voice of agriculture is heard at the State House,” said Dykema whose comments were followed by those of Scott Soares, Commissioner of the Mass. Department of Agricultural Resources.
Rep. Dykema is a member of the Joint Committee on the Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture. She recently submitted testimony in opposition to a bill that would open the door to increased local regulation of farms and make it more difficult for farms to remain economically viable.
The National Grange is the nation's oldest general farm and rural public interest organization. The Massachusetts State Grange was founded in 1873. Grange members provide service to agriculture and rural communities on a wide variety of issues, including economic development, education, family endeavors, and legislation.
October 31, 2009
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Leah Robins, Legislative Aide
Office of Representative Carolyn Dykema
Statement of Rep. Polito on Governor's Announced Budget Cuts
Oct 29, 2009
STATEMENT OF REPRESENTATIVE KARYN POLITO ON
BUDGET CUTS ANNOUNCED BY GOVERNOR PATRICK TODAY
“With a budget gap that has now reached $600 million in Massachusetts, it appears that Governor Patrick has finally decided it is time do the necessary thing by making substantial cuts in state spending, while preserving local aid and protecting vulnerable citizens in our state.
These are not easy decisions to make, but the poor economy combined with years of overspending and overestimated revenues by state government is forcing our hand. And unfortunately, Massachusetts residents have already had to pay the price in increased taxes because we waited until now to make these spending reductions.
But now is not the time to place blame or point the finger. We should use the predicament in which we find ourselves now as a lesson for the future. Instead of being reactionary every time revenues go up or down, we need to reset the way Massachusetts government works and delivers core services. We need to have better foresight when it comes to our fiscal planning so we can set more reasonable benchmarks. We need to proactively work to streamline government operations, realize savings and efficiencies, and bring state employee benefits in line with the private sector. We need to be creative and inventive to identify innovative ways to better position our state for economic recovery and job creation.”
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Polito Launches New Blog to Encourage Citizen Input and Discussion
- Representative Dykema to Hold Office Hours (Nov 2009)
- Polito Announces Patriotic Rally
- Polito, Peterson and Dykema Announce Creative Grant
- Elected Officials and Representattives
- Drivers Encouraged to Sign Up for New Online License Renewal Reminder
- Polito to Host Halloween Costume Party
- Representative Dykema Testifies in Support of the Community Preservation Act
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