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Why I am voting for Obama (Please Read!)

I have no choice but to vote for Barack Obama. Jenn is in med school to become an Emergency Medicine physician, and I work in education. No matter how far I advance, chances are she’ll be the primary breadwinner in the family, and protection of her field is a major issue for us.

When talking about health care, John Goodman (a McCain adviser who helped craft McCain’s health care policy) said anyone with access to an emergency room effectively has insurance, albeit the government acts as the payer of last resort. (Hospital emergency rooms by law cannot turn away a patient in need of immediate care.) “So I have a solution. And it will cost not one thin dime,” Mr. Goodman said. “The next president of the United States should sign an executive order requiring the Census Bureau to cease and desist from describing any American – even illegal aliens – as uninsured. Instead, the bureau should categorize people according to the likely source of payment should they need care. So, there you have it. Voila! Problem solved.” (http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/bus/stories/DN-Uninsured_27bus.ART.State.Edition2.4dce428.html)

Well, that’s an interesting point. But the government isn’t a bank account from which the uninsured can just deduct from; the cost actually goes to the hospital, who can later request reimbursement. In reality, the cost of uninsured patients going to the emergency room is a huge burden on a hospital. This is money that can go to hiring more staff (think about that next time you waitin an ER waiting room for 2 hours) and improving outdated equipment and quality of care.

So what does Senator Obama have to say on the topic of Emergency Care? Aside from his solution to universal insurance coverage, he and Rep. Waxman in the House drafted a bill (before Obama was much more than just thinking of running for president) specifically addressing ER care: http://oversight.house.gov/story.asp?ID=1441. In summary:

The Improving Emergency Medical Care and Response Act of 2007, will provide support for research into emergency medicine and create a 5 year independently evaluated pilot program that will:
*Coordinate public health, safety, and emergency services;
*Facilitate timely access to emergency medical services;
*Establish a mechanism to ensure that the right patient gets to the right hospital at the right time;
*Track hospital resources, staffing and capacity in real time (e.g., statistics on bed capacity/ambulance diversion);
*Facilitate pre-hospital and inter-facility transports during disasters; and
*Promote emergency care research by coordinating efforts across federal agencies.

So, we have John McCain, who says “just shoo people into the ER’s, they can’t turn people away, and then we change their label from ‘uninsured’ to ‘insured.'” We also have Obama, who says, “Not only should we make an effort to get people insured, when it comes to Emergency Care, I have specifically researched deficiencies and am trying to come up with a targeted solution.”

Candidates will talk about changing taxes, starting and ending wars, and lots of other things, many of which will never happen. But when it comes to issues specifically surrounding the career of the breadwinner in my family, one candidate is flippantly pushing additional strain onto the system, while the other has already proven that he is focused on and is targeting that system for improvement. My vote will be going to Barack Obama.

-Joe

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