Letter to the Editor

I recently received an e-mail from a good friend of mine in which he made a mildly disparaging comment about the current administration’s attempts at health care reform. Well, my response was swift, and probably too harsh. Little did he know the nerve he had touched. But I’m getting ahead of myself. The story starts before my Letter to the Editor, in fact, at least 7 years before. My family and I have been supportive of improvements to the nation’s healthcare situation for at least that long. At one candlelight vigil for the uninsured around that time, I heard the then-CEO of Grady Hospital give as clear an explanation of the need as I have ever heard, backed up by several other quite reputable speakers. The need seemed so clear at the time.

Fast forward to this year, when real change actually looks possible. I have wanted to do more than just donate, so I was looking for the right opportunity. It came when The Gwinnett “Daily” Post (GDP) published a “Viewpoints” column full of misleading and incorrect statements. I decided I would write a Letter to the Editor (LTE). Not a whiny collection of my personal opinions, but some Facts about our healthcare system that have bugged me ever since I learned them. So I did it. I sat down and wrote a carefully worded, even-tempered response, and submitted it to the GDP. I sent it early in the same afternoon the Viewpoints were published so it would arrive in time to be seen, and recognized as relevant, incisive, and to-the-point.

That night I woke up thinking about my Letter, and even worried if one word was literally accurate. I got up early the next morning, verified that my Facts were indeed true, then slowly made my way through the morning paper, in my usual fashion. When I reached the editorial page, I casually glanced over it, and was disappointed to find that there was nary a single LTE there. I was even more disappointed to find that they request that LTEs be limited to 200 words. I quickly checked my submission, and it was more than twice that.

So I hastily edited out a big chunk, but left the Facts intact, and it came out to 198 words. I quickly re-submitted it. But the next morning, my precise prose again failed to appear on the editorial page, although two other letters did, including one that had to be at least 600 words.

I went through several stages: regret at wasting the time submitting my thoughts, discouragement at the GDP’s editorial staff overlooking my gems of wisdom, fear that the web submission process doesn’t work, but one emotion dominated the others. I was suffering from “lack of information publication.” I had some information that I desperately wanted to share with someone. I didn’t necessarily expect to change the world, but I did want to give people the chance to judge it on its merits.

I began thinking that I would post the information. I write a couple of occasional blogs in a couple of different contexts, and I decided that if only two people read my facts, that would be two more than had seen them on the GDP editorial page. Two over zero is, like, infinity. It would be an infinite percentage more. Who can argue with a number like that?

So I had been mulling over all of this for several days when my friend sent his ill-fated e-mail. I was ready for him. I took my original LTE, bolstered by some additional thoughts, edited it to fit his comments, and fired back a 10-paragraph missive that probably sounded a lot like a rant. It was only the next day that I realized that most of the emotion behind my letter to him didn’t come from his casual comment, but from years of longing for real healthcare reform, and paragraphs of editorials that I considered misleading and even incorrect, and days of wondering what to do with my Facts. It was like the bursting of a dam.

Without further ado, and in an attempt to keep any more dams from bursting, here are the Facts I wanted the GDP to publish. It’s up to you to decide what to do with them. But you can rest assured that they are factual. (I’ll be glad to share the sources with you.)

1) The United States is the only industrialized country on the planet that doesn’t provide health care for all of its citizens. This would be fine if we had the best health. But….

2) In world health rankings, we are NOT EVEN IN THE TOP 20! This includes factors such as longevity and infant mortality. On average, the poorest residents in England live longer than the wealthiest Americans. If health care were football, we wouldn’t even get invited to a bowl game. But there is one factor in which we do lead…

3) Cost. We pay more per person for health care than any other country, about 50% more than Sweden, and more than double everyone else. So we’re paying more and getting less.

As a patriotic American, I believe we can do better than this.

In closing, I think people with vested interests in the current system are determined to distract us from the actual facts. But we Americans are clever people. I believe we can figure out a workable direction for health care reform, and I believe we need to do it now.

And a final warning. I submitted another LTE this morning. If they don’t print this one, keep an eye on this space. I’m liable to post something else!

Thanks for reading.

UPDATE: In response to several requests, I have published a longer, more partisan page (where I am the partisan) that contains some of my additional thoughts, link, and comments about health care reform. The page is at http://iideaco.jaynebedingfield.com/healthcare.

2 Responses to “Letter to the Editor”

  1. Ashley Knees says:

    It would be just fine with me if you posted the full-length first submission onto iideaco or sent it in an emull.

    Very levelly worded. Very soundly presented.

  2. Carl says:

    In response to this request, I have created a separate page which collects my current thoughts on health care reform. It is very much partisan (where I, specifically, am the partisan), so I wanted to separate it from the general Enoch’s Thoughts postings, which are intended to be less partisan, as much as anything any of us writes can be.

    The link is http://iideaco.jaynebedingfield.com/healthcare

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