It is unclear at this point whether the Senate will be able to pass health care reform legislation. What is crystal clear is that this nation's health care system can't continue on its current course.
The cost and waste involved with this country's method of health care delivery are arguably the great threat to its future, even more than a foreign enemy. The fact that Congress' latest attempt at reform has progressed so fitfully, amid so much need, says much about the vacuum of leadership in Washington — particularly in the Republican Party.
Anyone who has had the surreal experience of dealing with a personal health care bill knows about the insanity of American health care economics. Anyone who has watched the insurance premiums they pay at work increase at double-digit annual rates knows that reform is an imperative.
It is always instructive, however, to hear other people's stories to be reminded about a system that spends far more, on a per person basis, than any other advanced industrialized country and still leaves 46 million people without insurance coverage.
One such story was told Thursday on National Public Radio by a University of Kentucky student named Brittany Hunsaker. She talked about her 19th birthday being "bittersweet" because it was the day she officially aged out of Kentucky's insurance program for low-income youth.
Going to the doctor or dentist, she wrote, costs more than the weekly paycheck at her fast-food restaurant job. Back in her rural hometown, "you can get health care there if you're in a dire situation – say, if you're pregnant or recovering from drug addiction. I know a few girls who got pregnant just to afford a doctor's visit, or had another baby just to keep their health insurance."
To read the complete editorial, visit The Sacramento Bee.