I watched the House vote on the American Health Care Act through the fog of a high temperature as I was being treated for a serious infection at a small rural hospital last week.
The staff there cared for me with efficiency, compassion, and professionalism at the same time a room full of 435 politicians on the TV screen carried on their pointless agenda. The discourse was completely partisan, and in cases completely wrong-headed. It was clear to me if there was anyone in the chamber who really had a grasp on the issue, they were in a tiny minority.
In the end, the joyous outburst by the GOP, who finally, after years of trying, had their one vote advantage, made me sicker. The Democrats’ taunting was childish, and the audacious victory party at the White House was a kick in the gut.
None of them have any idea what they have done.
The nurses delivered medications and treatments in a caring professional way. The nurse assistant came in to check my vital signs and bring me more ice water. The dietary department delivered another meal tray, and housekeeping staff cleaned the room with a smile and friendly word of encouragement. The laboratory and radiology staff provided brief, supportive care. The doctor made daily visits with the team to check in on progress and adjust the course of treatment. I was well cared for in my hometown by people I came to know well over six days. They were focused on one thing — making me well again.
Meanwhile, the politicians slammed the door on millions of constituents with unknown health issues, and then held a beer bash to celebrate the tax breaks that have nothing to do with keeping Americans healthy. It had only fulfilled their ill-conceived campaign promises.
“Who are the really sick ones here?” I wondered.
None of us know what the actual impact of this bill could have since it has not been studied by the Congressional Budget Office.
The politicians are not focused on making people well again. They are not focused on making improvements to a system that could and should be the best in the world. They are focused on their own political survival; their own agenda, and how this is one item on their career check list. They are not focused on working as a health care team for the best outcome for the patient. They are selling snake oil. Don’t buy it, America.
How can I tell? When Speaker Paul Ryan addressed the house before the vote, he thanked all the politicians who pulled strings to get to this point. He made no mention of the men, women, and families who are at the heart of the issue - US - the patients, caregivers, and health care providers.
So, we know where we stand. And we know where the politicians stand. And we are not together.
The one lesson of comfort here could very well be in peril. In Penn Yan, there is a health care facility where the ill and injured receive effective, professional care in a quiet, efficient environment. The American Health Care Act may not ensure the survival of this facility in our own back yard.
Your neighbor — whose kids have played lacrosse with yours; who raises chickens and geese as a hobby; who adores her grandchildren; who enjoys the quiet social way of life here in this community — may face downsizing if rural health systems do not get the funding they need in the future. I didn’t see anyone in that Rose Garden party who seemed to think about that potential at all, did you?
Thank you to everyone at Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hospital for your wonderful care over six days.