Obama health choice hears tales of health care woe

by Lesley Politi on January 7, 2009

Obama health choice hears tales of health care woe

DUBLIN, Ind. – President-elect Barack Obama’s choice to overhaul the nation’s health care system told a town hall meeting that the task is not impossible if all sides work together.

Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, Obama’s nominee as health and human services secretary and director of a new White House office on health reform, quoted former South African President Nelson Mandela when he told the gathering Monday, “Many things seem impossible until they are done.”

Daschle heard one woman describe the difficulty she had obtaining health insurance because she has had three past cancers, another woman say she forgoes a $35,000-a-year cancer medication because of its cost, and a doctor explain he feels forced into decisions on a patient’s care based on what insurance will pay for, not what he thinks is best.

These (stories) are really hard to listen to in many ways,” Daschle said. “We need to change the paradigm from illness to wellness.”

The gathering at the Dublin Fire Department about 50 miles east of Indianapolis was among hundreds of discussions occurring across the country this month that the Obama transition team has encouraged as it embarks on the daunting task of revamping the nation’s health care system.

Deanna Russell of Cambridge City said her son, Kyle, was born with a heart condition that has required several surgeries and other treatment.

Hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills were covered by her health plan at the Visteon auto parts plant in Connersville, but the plant has closed and she is substitute teaching. She’s concerned that when he begins working, his employer’s medical insurance won’t cover him because of the condition.

In many cases, that could be deadly or fatal to him,” she said.

Joe Fouts, office manager for a medical practice in Cambridge City, said he regularly has patients that come into the clinic with new insurance coverage only to discover it won’t pay for pre-existing condition treatments.

Source: www.chicagotribune.com

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