Status quo watch

STATUS QUO WATCH…. About a month ago, Bill Moyers sat down with Wendell Potter, a former executive at a major health insurance company, who’s become a whistleblower, explaining the way the industry “put profits before patients” and is doing everything possible to block health care reform now.

Asked what prompted his change of heart, Potter said he visited a health care expedition in Wise, Virginia, in July 2007. “I just assumed that it would be, you know, like booths set up and people just getting their blood pressure checked and things like that,” he said. “But what I saw were doctors who were set up to provide care in animal stalls. Or they’d erected tents, to care for people…. I’ve got some pictures of people being treated on gurneys, on rain-soaked pavement. And I saw people lined up, standing in line or sitting in these long, long lines, waiting to get care.”

Potter added that families were there from “all over the region” because people had heard, “from word of mouth,” about the possibility of being able to see a doctor without insurance. He asked himself, “What country am I in? It just didn’t seem to be a possibility that I was in the United States.”

What’s worth remembering is that this exact same scene keeps playing out, across the country. Reader R.B. sent me this item earlier:

The free medical clinic at the Forum in Inglewood [near Los Angeles] reached capacity again Wednesday, as hundreds camped out overnight to receive medical and dental care. […]

More than 2,000 sought services on the first day of the medical clinic — and hundreds were turned away. People were lined up Tuesday night, hoping to get in. The MTA announced it was extending service of Line 115 because of “overwhelming demand” for rides to the clinic, which runs for eight days. […]

Doctors, nurses and other medical workers who donated their time said most visitors’ ailments were basic. But “many have chronic diseases — high blood pressure, diabetes, asthma — conditions we can’t deal with in just one day,” said Dr. Nancy Greep of Santa Monica. Some had problems, such as a recurring cancer, that demand long-term treatment.

“What country am I in? It just didn’t seem to be a possibility that I was in the United States.”

Remember, in some conservative circles, there’s still a belief that health care reform isn’t necessary. Last month, one right-wing member of Congress even boasted, “There are no Americans who don’t have healthcare. Everybody in this country has access to healthcare.”

Here’s a thought: head down to Inglewood and let folks know about this. While you’re there, let them know that health care reform might lead to “rationing” and “long wait times.”