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The health care reform takes the “heal” out of health for Santa Fe seniors
By Jim Marquez, Santa Fe
Seniors in Santa Fe and across America need and deserve to be listened to in this national debate on health care reform.  They have a right to receive access to quality health care.  Yet the administration continues to promote a plan that will have them paying a steeper price and having their treatment options reduced or rationed. In other words, less health and less care.
I’d like to discuss what the administration proposes and why it is wrong for America’s seniors. First, their plan is for government to get between seniors and their doctors. This is wrong on the face of it. What seniors want and need to keep is their valued relationship with their doctors. They don’t need nor want a government-run health-care program that gives them less power to control their own medical decisions.
Next, the "comparative effectiveness research" could lead to government boards rationing treatments based on age. This is an unfair sacrifice for seniors to pay.  And if the president’s plan passes, you bet they’ll pay. Not only in the teeth, but in the eye, mind, heart, soul and body as well. Literally. What this means is a person over 65 that has been recently diagnosed as having an advanced form of cardiac disease or aggressive cancer, for instance, may not get treated.
Also, the plan to cut Medicare to pay for a new public program is shortsighted at best. At a time when Medicare is dangerously close to bankruptcy, Congress should not tap the program to help pay for coverage of the uninsured.  All the Medicare savings will not come from eliminating waste and inefficiency, as President Obama says.  Instead, it will mean less health and less care for seniors.
The government plan for handling end-of-life care may seem benign at first, but think about it. What will it lead to? And why do we need the government involved in seniors' meetings with a doctor and family to discuss end-of-life care? This is ludicrous and totally inappropriate for the government to even bring up this topic, much less include it in health care reform.
Surveys among our supporters and among other groups show a higher percentage of people 65 and older do not want the government involved in a national health care plan. Other surveys show that older people believe they would be worse off if the president and Congress passed health care reform.
Older Americans are beginning to get the picture and some are taking action.  It is up to us to make sure the administration and Congress reconsider the reform process to give seniors what they need, want and deserve, and that is access to quality health care without adding to the national debt, reduced options or rationed care. We must not let the president and Congress take the “heal” out of health for our America’s seniors.

Jim Marquez lives in Santa Fe and is chairman of RetireSafe, a seniors grassroots advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C. .

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