July 19, 2009, 10:01 am

Better Health in D.C.: the Panel, the Politics and the Ce-Ment Pond

RyanPodiumThis is Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, speaking at the Better Health “Putting Patients First” event  in D.C.

I should talk about how passionately he spoke about health care reform (he did), about why he does not believe government should be running health care (he doesn’t) or that he took the time to come and speak at 8 am even though he had been up until 2 am working on the health care bill (he did) or that he spoke right up until he – literally- had to run back to the House to vote (he did).

And I will talk about these things.

But first, let me state the obvious and get it out of the way so that I can go on to discuss the serious nature of the health care reform debate before us.

Whoa.

Seriously, is it just me or are politicians getting better looking?

There. Now I can move on to the meat of the matter.

(I had to say it because you all know I was thinking it!)

*****

This event marked my first time in Washington, and just being there is awe-inspiring. Seeing the White House from the car window took my breath away, literally. I felt like Ellie May Clampett marveling at the ce-ment pond.  The National Press Club is a museum in and of itself.  Mother Jones and I were hoping we’d catch a glimpse of Sanjay Gupta, but he must have been off doing neurosurgery or something.

*****

By now, you’ve probably read who was on the panel (Dr. Wes, DrRich, Dr.Rob, Dr.Kevin, me, and Better Health contributors Dr. Alan Dappen, Valerie Tinley, NP and “token” – his words, LOL – surgeon Dr. James Herndon).

I will tell you straight up that I learned much more than I contributed.

The panel shot from the hip and spoke from the heart. Some of us had notes, some of us illustrated our comments with anecdotes and one of us (*cough*) had no clue what was going to come out of her mouth until that moment.

I’ll give you a hint….it wasn’t Valerie…..

*****

For the record, those of us on the panel were not told what to say, how to say it or what to believe, nor were we chosen based on what we do believe.  Some discussed concepts that should be taken into account no matter what plan we end up with, others were definitely against a single payer plan run by the government (*raising hand*).

The inefficiencies of national health plans of other countries were illustrated/discussed.  This hit me later: we should look at what works in those plans, not just what is wrong with them.  We don’t have to emulate them, just learn from them, and that includes the good and the bad.  It also applies to any universal form of coverage, not just a government-run plan.

Wish I had said that at the time.

So much for thinking on my feet (or on my butt, as the case may be).

*****

There was some controversy about not having any patient bloggers on the panel.  There should have been. I hope that, as a nurse, I spoke for patients, but it was not the same as having someone there who navigates the system as a patient every single day.

patientbloggers

The patient bloggers were in the audience, though, and if you go to Twitter you can find the live tweeting at “#patientsfirst”. There was a pretty healthy debate going on in the Twitterverse while the panel was up on the dais.

Here I am with Lisa Emrich (Brass and Ivory) and Kerri Morrone Sparling (Six Until Me). Duncan Cross was also there, but my pic was blurry!

*****

While health care reform has been a hot topic for awhile, it was especially acute this week as the President was actively promoting a government run health care system and there seemed to be a huge sense of urgency to get what is called “America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009″ passed ASAP.

The bill is over 1000 pages long.

I just downloaded it.

And Congress has not read it.

Folks, our representatives are being asked to pass legislation they have not had a chance to read.

While I will admit to being a bit unsure of exactly what happens in the Beltway (Civics classes and Schoolhouse Rock’s “I’m Just a Bill” notwithstanding), that can’t possibly be business as usual.

Can it?

*****

I’ll say one thing: no matter what we believe, why we believe it or what our role is in the health care system, it is a conversation rife with strong opinions and passionate debate.

And, in the end, because we are all patients in one form or another at some point in our lives, the conversation is about us.

So, when you hear the phrase “putting patients first”, think of it as “putting me first”.

That may help you get a foothold in the morass of information that is the health care debate.

It worked for me.

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9 Comments

  • Reality Rounds
    Reality Rounds

    July 19, 2009 at 4:37 pm

    Whoa is right! I had no idea they grew em like that in Wisconsin. Meow!

    Seriously, I am in awe of you. I am so impressed and happy that you are representing nursing in health care reform. You have probably guessed that our politics differ, but we agree that everyone is a patient and consumer of health care. So tell us. Did you leave hopeful?


  • [...] Emeriblog’s Kim gave her thoughts and a nice pic of her with Kerri Morrone Sparling and Lisa Emrich at the event. [...]


  • Kerri.
    Kerri.

    July 20, 2009 at 12:05 pm

    It was great meeting you, Kim! Thanks for asserting that “we are all patients.” I think that’s very true.

    See you next week in Chicago!


  • AlisonH
    AlisonH

    July 20, 2009 at 6:02 pm

    Happens all the time. That’s what amendments to bills are all about–a little for everybody in hopes nobody’ll notice or at least be able to vote down all the details coming out of other people’s committees, and why there’s such a scramble to get seniority on the good committees. Yup. Welcome to my hometown.


  • [...] at emergiblog said that she couldn’t find much mystery in her report on the Better Health “Putting Patients First” panel she spoke at in Washington, DC, but, like in all good mysteries, maybe the answer was right in [...]


  • [...] Dr. Wes, who posted his comments on his blog; Dr. Rich from Covert Rationing; Dr. Jim Herndon; and Kim from Emergiblog. As for the primary care panel, I’ll put the Q&A in a separate post. On this post, [...]


  • [...] for my totally off-the-cuff observation. I could not help but notice this was the exact opposite of my experience in DC last week. This was a full-on Obamafest, last week seemed like an “anything BUT Obamafest”. This [...]


  • [...] for my totally off-the-cuff observation. I could not help but notice this was the exact opposite of my experience in DC last week. This was a full-on Obamafest, last week seemed like an “anything BUT Obamafest”. This week the [...]


  • Trusted.MD Network
    Trusted.MD Network

    July 29, 2009 at 10:08 pm

    “We Are All Patients,” says Kim McAlister of Emergiblog…

    Continued from Part One, more discussion, prepared thoughts, and reactions from the bloggers in attendance at the event, “Putting Patients First” as hosted by Dr. Val, CEO of Better Health, LLC….


About Me

My name is Kim, and I'm a nurse in the San Francisco Bay area. I've been a nurse for 33 years; I graduated in 1978 with my ADN. My experience is predominately Emergency and Critical Care, and I have also worked in Psychiatry and Pediatrics. I made the decision to be a nurse back in 1966 at the age of nine...

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