Now Is the Time for Health Care Reform

In the last few months the Health Care Foundation has hosted several poverty simulations across the community. In less than two hours a person attending these simulations can feel the pain, heartbreak and despair felt by families every day who live in poverty without jobs and health insurance.

Attendance in these simulations has been high. It probably isn’t coincidental that as the economy worsens, interest in poverty grows. In today’s world many of the new jobless are folks who are experiencing poverty for the first time. With unemployment in our area at 8% it is not difficult for most of us to realize that if we lose our job we are only a few pay checks away from being in serious financial trouble and without health insurance.

As many of you know, I had the privilege of working with one of our community’s finest leaders – Mr. Ewing Kauffman. Mr. Kauffman often said that the best social program ever created was a good paying job with benefits. No question Mr. K was correct, but unfortunately not everyone who wants a job can find one in today’s economy.

No one knows how long these troubling times will last. As it continues, more and more of us will find ourselves among the ranks of the uninsured. Therefore it is important for legislative leaders in both political parties, insurance companies, advocates, hospitals, doctors, dentists, nonprofit providers, business leaders, clergy, consumers, and many other groups to figure out a way to provide physical and mental health care for all at a reasonable cost.

Contact your elected officials and let them know that you expect action on health reform this year. Now is the time and together we can assure universal health/mental coverage for everyone.


Steve,Great Blog. I commend you for leading these poverty simulations. It is so important for Kansas Citians to understand the significance of poverty in this City, State, Country, AND World. I agree with Mr. K too Steve but that is not a reality or possibility for a lot of people living in poverty. For example, In my experience with the Fast Food Industry is they usually only employ folks for more than 30 hours a week because then they don’t have to give them benefits. A single mother of 2 can’t live on 30 hours a week at minimum wage. Not to mention the fact she will not have any sick or vacation days if she has to sick kid or god forbid she be sick herself. Now her children might qualify for Medicaid but at Minimum Wage with 2 kids she is not eligible for Medicaid in the state of Missouri. I find this to be a horrifying reality in the richest country in the world. Last week, a 20 year old kid/ boy / young adult passed away of Pneumonia. He was sent home from his fast food job on Tuesday without pay because he was sick. When asked if he was going to the doctor he said no I don’t have health insurance and with school and work I don’t have time go wait in an ER for hours on end to be seen. “I am sure I will get better” he told his manager. Friday of that week he was found dead in his apartment. The autopsy said he died of pneumonia and thought he had been dead since Wednesday. This is INSANE. What are we doing as “providers, business leaders, clergy, consumers, and many other groups” if we have members of our society dropping dead from treatable diseases due to lack of insurance?? Health insurance is not about is about life. And the American people, who fight so hard against abortion, against AIDS in Africa, against so many causes need to realized that health insurance is about the value of human life. Period. While I think it is great to educate people about poverty… people are literally dying in the present time so we need to work faster!It is not this young man’s fault he was born into a single parent household that was surviving in the world of the working poor 20 years ago. He did not grow up going to the doctor every year, going to the dentist, or taking antibiotics when he was sick. His reality was to wait for hours in an emergency room if he needed help. He was not able to do that when he got sick, and died. It is not my fault I was born into a 2 parent middle class home and never ever had to worry about not having health insurance and dying of Pneumonia in the year 2009. When I get sick, I go to the doctor. I call my primary care physician. I get an appointment. I wait for maybe 20 minutes, and I get treatment and go home. People need to see this is NOT the reality for millions of Americans without health insurance. It certainly wasn't the reality for this poor boy who died. Eli Khamarov once said, “Poverty is like punishment for a crime you did not commit.” This could not be more true! EVERY SINGLE PERSON DESERVES HEALTH INSURANCE! We need to value human life, and provide everyone with equal access to health care!!!

Good commentary Steve. Here is a link to today's Fresh Air broadcast on NPR with Uwe Reinhardt. It's probably the best discussion on the health care debate…straight-forward, rationale, and convincing. Audio available after 2 pm. Uwe Reinhardt: Hidden Costs Of Health Care.Fresh Air from WHYY, March 11, 2009 Economist Uwe Reinhardt joins Fresh Air to discuss the hidden costs of the health-care bureaucracy.Reinhardt is the James Madison Professor of Political Economy and a Professor of Economics and Public Affairs at Princeton University. He has been a member of the Institute of Medicine and National Academy of Sciences since 1978. He has served on the editorial boards of many publications, including the Journal of Health Economics, the New England Journal of Medicine and the Journal of the American Medical Association.Michael Renner, Missouri Foundation for Health

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About Me

Steve Roling

Steve Roling

Steve Roling is the President/CEO of the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City. Each week he blogs about issues that inspire him as we work toward eliminating barriers to quality health.