I was honored to have attended the domestic plenary Understanding the Long-Term Solution to our Health Crisis: A National Health Program on June 21. As an American citizen who has lived in France, a country that has one of the best health care systems in the world according to the World Health Organization, the U.S. health system has always been an upsetting part of my life in Michigan. I really felt shocked by the narratives of Registered Nurse Donna Smith who explained how she had uterine cancer and how her husband suffered from severe cardiac problems. This led her family to bankruptcy. Her situation was documented in Sicko, Michael Moore’s 2007 film on the American health care system.
“I was not in Michael Moore’s movie because my story is special,” she said. “I was in his movie because my story is ordinary.” Indeed, over 60 percent of bankruptcies are caused by people not being able to pay their medical bills. The message that health care was a human right stuck with me. Having lived most my life in France, this is common sense to me, but some Americans I speak to seem to think that it is impossible for us to provide for everybody when it comes to health care. The real question is how can we afford not to provide health care for all Americans? I learned that the visionary HR 676 house bill that provides health care for all would actually cut the health care system cost by half!
Dr. Margaret Flowers of Physicians for a National Health Care Program shared a very shocking story. In May 2009, the main committees in the Senate were meeting the major players in the health care system. The senators would not allow any of the doctors and clinicians to have a say and a seat at the round table of “open discussion.” Only the health insurance and pharmaceutical companies had a say in this.
The use of the term Medical Industrial Complex (“Med. I. C.”) really was a great way to capture this very aggravating situation in which health care providers (i.e. doctors and nurses) have to use civil disobedience in order to have a chance of being heard. A total of 13 doctors were arrested for standing up and expressing their discontent to not being given a seat in the round table discussing the future of health care.
I was really empowered by these plenaries and I look forward to learning more in the future. I am recommitted to help all Americans obtain health care. Let’s learn from these heroes and stand up for our rights!
University of Michigan - Ann Arbor RESULTS