Monday, September 7, 2009

Health in The City

Sometimes it’s difficult, when there’s so much going on in the world, to write about local parties and new music. Not that it isn’t important, because it’s my life and my livelihood, but I wanted to talk a bit about the health care debate that’s currently raging. More to the point, I’d like to talk about what it means to The Glass House family and readership. On a grand scale there’s a lot to understand about the health care bill making its way around the House right now, but what does it mean to us locally? Well, those of us who live in the District know better than most the benefits and disadvantages of having the Federal government involved in our day-to-day lives. The D.C government, and by extension the Federal government have outpatient clinics, preventative medicine buses and a network of providers that will provide service to D.C residents at low or no cost. These clinics and offices are generally a partnership between public and private organizations that drive down cost through their cooperation. Starting to sound familiar? That’s because this is basically the same concept that is at the heart of the President’s plan for health care - Partnerships between for-profit business, NGOs and government agencies.

What we have is a program set up so that those who make the least amount of money will be eligible to get their basic needs cared for. For instance, If you have a chronic rheumatic illness (like arthritis) you can go to the Cardozo Clinic on 14th St. If you all of a sudden lost your mind, you could get the mental health care that you need at the Andromeda Transcultural Health Center (which also serves the population in Spanish and provides free HIV testing). In an agreement with the Labor Department, you can also now get a free flu shot at CVS. The one thing that we’re really missing is a public option for emergency medicine. With the closing of D.C General in 2001, all of the D.C area's hospitals are now privately owned. In other words, if you break your ass you should be ready to pay or bring an insurance card.

The overall point that I’m hoping to impress upon you is that we’re almost there (locally at least). There are quite a few services that we should have and don’t, but we’re a lot closer to “universal” coverage than any other city in the nation. That doesn’t mean it’s enough, because it isn’t. What it does mean is that we should be fighting as hard as anyone else to make a public option a reality. We should do it if for no other reason than to be able to get more of the services that this city desperately needs. The healthcare bill in its current incarnation is not perfect. It is however the closest this country has ever come to universal coverage. So, Glass House readers, let’s try to do something about it. Yeah?

-M. Leshchiner

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