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June 25th, 2009
07:47 AM ET

Edie Falco: Health care reform can't wait

Editor's Note: Edie Falco is an Emmy Award-winning actress best known for her character "Carmela Soprano” in the groundbreaking HBO series "The Sopranos." She is now starring in the new series "Nurse Jackie" that premiered on Showtime in early June 2009.

Actress Edie Falco arrives at the 59th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards September 16, 2007 in Los Angeles, California.
Actress Edie Falco arrives at the 59th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards September 16, 2007 in Los Angeles, California.

By Edie Falco
Special to CNN

Health care is something that affects everyone in America, and I am glad that we are having a national conversation about it. I am supporting Health Care for America Now because we are at a moment in time when we can actually make change that impacts peoples’ lives in a very real way.

We have got to fix health care, and we have got to do it right now. Health care reform cannot wait.

As a struggling artist, I spent many years without health coverage. I know the feeling of hoping your symptoms go away before you have to get money together to see a doctor. I know worrying about it makes it even harder to get better. I still have friends and family in this position.

It’s true, I have health care now. I have good doctors and I'm treated very well, and I can’t tell you how grateful I am for this. But I believe no one person is any more worthy of such treatment than any other person who may be sitting at home right now worried about their own health or the health of a loved one, knowing they don't have the money to take care of it. With all of the wealth and ingenuity in our country, I know we can do better. We can fix this.

I am here in Washington, DC with Health Care for America Now today because together we are going to let Congress know that we will not wait another moment to fix our broken health care system. We have a plan that makes health care affordable to individuals, families, and businesses. If you have insurance that works for you, you can keep it. You will also have a guaranteed backup plan. It's quality, affordable health care no matter what. It’s the peace of mind that people have been looking for. It’s also the plan that President Obama is fighting for.

During my time here, I am meeting with people all around the country who are affected by our current health care mess. They will tell their stories at our rally today and they will be meeting with their members of Congress. I hope that I can help make sure that their voices are heard. We are all fighting for them and for the hundreds of thousands of people in America who need a guarantee of quality, affordable health care we all can count on.

My hope is that Congress will hear our message loud and clear: Health care can’t wait!

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Edie Falco.


Filed under: Commentary • Health
soundoff (241 Responses)
  1. Victoria Nikolov

    The cost of health care will be even higher once government gets to run the whole thing. It is about regulating human behavior
    Tom Dashel was going to head up the care until his corruption got in the way, said that President Obama must not let too many details out in public, but push for the health care program to get through congress and Senate, so he can sign it. As with our elected officials, Obama doesn't even know what is in the bill. He obviously didn't read page 16 of the thousand page bill. Any change in your insurance plan, like a raise in co-pay, or a union worker about to retire and go on medicare, so his health care now becomes his supplementary, etc. will cause your health insurance to no be allowed to keep and you MUST go on the Federal plan only. So you can't keep your own insurance. You cannot get an insurance plan if you never had one, you must go on Federal health care. Eventually all insurance companies will no longer be able to exist. Then government alone will control if you live or die. The older you are, the less life saving surgeries you will be allowed to get. Do the research. I read the bill. It scares the hell out of me. We will all have less coverage and no place else to go.
    It is not about health care. It is a way of getting around the Bill of Rights, which says what Congress can't do to you. Obama wants to be able to say what he can do to us, or for us. By taking over one sixth of the economy, the health care business, the Government can then dictate, and regulate your behavior. Whatever your behavior is, it can say will effect your health.
    With millionaires about to pay more than 60% tax, it will bring down the goal to become a millionaire. We will all be poor under his plan.

    One more thing, The private sector is supposed to create jobs and wealth. Mr. Obama government jobs will shift to less private sector jobs, more unemployment. Government creating jobs leads to more taxes having to be paid, to put people to work. How will that bring down the cost of government. With less private sector and more government control, that should sound like Socialism. Is there something I don't understand? Is freedom heard anywhere?

    Government health care on Indian reservations should be a clue as to what will be done to everyone. Also, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid is going bankrupt, will YOUR doctor take an IOU? Look at California and think again if you want YOUR government running anything. Let's try TORT Reform first. That will bring the cost of health care down right away. But since the lawyers donate to Democrats heavily, you will never see the right thing done.

    July 23, 2009 at 1:24 pm |
  2. Wade

    Exactly...

    The bottom line is that we spend more on health care than any other industrialized nation, and yet we don't see the benefits.

    I think it's unreasonable to ask Americans to sacrifice to pay for a program that is not dealing with the problem.

    Health Insurance isn't the issue. It's a smokescreen to distract from the actual problem. By enacting a healthcare insurance plan, all you're doing is sweeping the problem under the rug and hoping no one ever pulls the rug back. You have not addressed the fundamental issue of the cost of health care in this country.

    Let me put this in a different light.

    I've heard a lot of people suggest that American should just suck it up and pay higher prices for gasoline. After all, European countries have been paying those prices for years. That's all fine and good, but it ignores the basics of Economics. The US is the largest functioning economy in the world, and thus enjoys the benefits of economies of scale. Why are our gas prices lower? Because we buy more of it!

    Health Care should be no different, but somehow it is. The very fact that it is suggests that there is something broken inside the system, be it regulations, risk and exposure, unnecessary spending, or decreasing supply. Health insurance exists OUTSIDE the health care system as a supplementary industry. We need to be targeting those things INSIDE the system, and dealing with them to maximize our returns on the investments in medicine before we start talking about blanket subjects like insurance.

    July 23, 2009 at 12:16 pm |
  3. Christine

    Billy, after everything Marta said you comment only on the European vacation part? You missed her entire point!!! She is telling us that her medical costs, even with excellent insurance, are more expensive than the cost of going to Europe and getting the care there. She's not dreaming of a European vacation for heaven's sake, she's trying to find a cost effective way of getting the care she needs.

    July 23, 2009 at 11:28 am |
  4. Billy Williamson

    Marta,
    Maybe the problem is your priorities. A european vacation is very expensive and not necessary for your well-being. Americans need to get over this bourgoise mindset. Sometimes you have to make sacrifices.

    July 23, 2009 at 10:50 am |
  5. Marta Akashe

    We're not just talking about the 40 million uninsured people in the richest country in the world. People who have insurance have to fight every bill, because the insurance companies each and every time try to pay a minimum contribution.."Being covered" is an illusion. We have the most expensive coverage from Aetna (through Kraft)..we don't feel we're covered.
    So let's make this clear..being covered doesn't mean you're covered.
    And one more thing..dental health is so important to overall health..people cannot afford it. My dentist insists I need a tooth transplant for $4000. We do have dental insurance. They wouldn't pay a penny to cover that.
    Our family is trying to stay healthy until we can take a vacation to Europe, so we can have our health and dental health all taken care of for a few hundred dollars. Thanks

    July 23, 2009 at 9:18 am |
  6. Wade

    None of your business –

    I find it interesting that someone who is quick to label the rest of us as "cowards", and to throw insults regarding intelligence and selfishness labels theirself as the equivalent of "Anonymous". You can't be brave enough to call someone out publicly, but unwilling to use your name. It only proves that you're unwilling to hold yourself to the same standard of bravery.

    I would submit to you that your unwillingness to debate is also a core definition of Anti-Americanism. To debate is democratic, and democracy is very American.

    Your points are all emotionally made, as well. You've presented no facts, and have succeeded only in saying that A) Everyone should stop beating up on movie stars who decide to make their opinions known, and, B) Everyone other than you and the people you agree with are a bunch of idiots, in your not-so-humble opinion.

    Let me ask you a question – where's my microphone? Besides playing a nurse on TV, what qualifies Edie Falco to hold public forum on Health Care (Insurance) that doesn't allow me, you, or anyone else to? Let me answer my own question... NOTHING other than the fact that she's a celebrity. You'll excuse me if I take the advice of health care economists over hers...

    Speaking of my microphone...

    On another note, for anyone else who is interested, I have emailed the President, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Majority Leader Harry Reid, and a number of other senators and representatives urging them to consider the institution of private co-operative corporations for collective bargaining and purchasing of insurance at lower premiums from private insurers for individuals and small companies. If you would like to see this type of self-funding, private, regulated free-market plan over a "Public Option", please contact your senator and tell them so.

    July 23, 2009 at 8:42 am |
  7. mariesa

    this is rediculous. who interviews a fake nurse about her views on health care?! who the hell is she? why dont you interview a REAL nurse who as REAL opinions who knows what is REALLY happening in the medical world! i feel sorry for all you people who drink the kool aid from these spokes people and care enoguh about celeberties to go with what they say. they dont care about you stop caring so much about them. they dont pay your rent

    July 11, 2009 at 1:57 pm |
  8. none of your business

    I didn't think anyone had the guts to refute this...

    "Jim from Denver:

    The story you tell of your friend’s passing is (sadly) an incredible illustration of the difficult decisions people have to make in these difficult economic times.

    Truth is, the biggest whiners over this issue are the ones who, for the time being, have perfect circumstances: their job hasn’t laid them off or gone out of business. Reality has yet to smack them across the face. Apparently they work at places that are completely immune to recession. Least they better be, or they’ll be up a particular creek.

    And I get sick of these same losers saying things like: “Thanks Eddie (sic) for your comments on something you know nothing about and have no way to pay for without breaking the back of the taxpayer.” I guess when you’re good enough to remember lines and be a tv star, according to these dolts, YOU SURRENDER ALL RIGHTS TO COMMENT ON PUBLIC ISSUES. (Seriously???) If memory serves me, California elected two actors, one of whom went on to be POTUS. I wonder if they were outraged by this!!!

    (These people are actors without a clue how the real world works and CNN uses them to promote Obama every chance they get.) Were you outraged by Ronald Reagan’s cluelessness, Mike?

    (Why do I need to pay more taxes to buy health care for hookers, drug dealers, and everyone else who actually makes more money than I do, but chooses not to buy health insurance?) How bout the American families out here trying to do the right thing? They don’t deserve it either? Gee, I’d hate to be a real estate agent married to a woman who works as an auto sales manager. These ’scum of the earth’ deserve nothing, too, right John P? Think it’s that easy for them to just ‘find a job with better health care’, and make a similar salary? Try thinking for a minute. It really helps…

    These idiots’ biggest problem is perspective, as in they clearly lack any. Their selfishness is the core definition of anti-Americanism…

    Speak up cowards, tell me what I wrote here isn’t true…"

    June 29, 2009 at 11:19 am |
  9. Bernice

    Provide for ALL AMERICANS??? What a joke! This is really NOT to cover all Americans people! This is being done to cover all illegal aliens! 16 Million as of date! We will end up paying for all of them! Hillary already said so! I am tired of having increased taxes for illegals! They say that they can cover 16 Million people ONLY and it will cost Americans 1.4 TRILLION AMERICAN DOLLARS! What if we all went to Mexico and lived off of them, and sent thier citizens OUR MEDICAL BILLS? They'd laugh while sending us HOME to the USA! Send them home! No excuse for this! This is all being done for more idiot votes! I do not wish to pay for ANYONE. but a REAL AMERICAN! Why should we have to pay for any of this?? They are dragging this country down! It is time (past time) to send them home! We can cover ALL Americans more quickly if we do! BUT, we won't! The last thing govt. worries about ..is it's very own people! Since when do you listen to a word that govt officials say, and you just automatically believe thier words? Look into it! If Europe has a gr8 medical health system, why do they wish to come here for thier major surguries? I wonder! Send the Illegals over there for thier gr8 (PAID) medical care!

    June 26, 2009 at 9:17 am |
  10. Ashley

    i am so shocked i mean i cant believe it i still cant put the words in my head micheal jackson is dead i just cant believe it but i feel so sad especially when i see the videos when he was a little kid but i still believe that the cause of his death is because all the things he injected and his abuse of drugs maybe if he hadnt done all that he would still be alive

    June 26, 2009 at 8:45 am |
  11. Edward in Cali

    Ellen Rudolph:
    You comment:
    "By referring to our President as “trash” shows your true colors. It takes “one’ to know “one.” Why not do something constructive with your life other than whine? At least Obama did something. A place you would never aspire to."

    Thank you Ellen for stating I show my true colors......I know my colors are Red/White/Blue. Unlike this President we have now. So, by saying "it takes one to know one".....this only proves your low grade skills to debate or even articulate a thought......WOW, you MUST be a liberal. As far as commenting why don't I do something constructive w/ my life other than whine.....sorry Ellen, I am. I am a hard working american who's been paying taxes since I was 15. Not a year has gone by (even when I was in college) that I have not been working, paying taxes and paying my responsibilities. What has Obama done besides be elected to two positions (Senate in Ill and Pres of the US)? NOTHING, except screw up our Country in just 6 months of service.

    June 25, 2009 at 5:44 pm |
  12. Jan in VA

    My company pays about $400 a month for a family in their group plan. Hmmm. If I could just put that $400 in a HSA, in ten years I'd have over $60 grand saved up with interest. My catastropic coverage is with 5000 deduct is only $50 month. Seems everything the govt is involved in ends up costing 5x as much as it should.

    June 25, 2009 at 5:28 pm |
  13. Katie

    Jerry and NMS, right on. Jan in VA, your car insurance isn't life or death, sorry. Poor comparison.

    June 25, 2009 at 5:27 pm |
  14. Jan in VA

    "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses..." – Well we got em all right and they all want their goverment entitlements.

    June 25, 2009 at 5:14 pm |
  15. Jan in VA

    My car insurance is too expensive, can I get on the Obama Automotive Protection plan please, oh and it needs to pay for all my routine maintenance (maybe a $20 copay) as well as cover any catastrophic occurences. I am a bad driver with quite a few speeding tickets, and I have a very expensive foreign vehicle I imported, with all kinds of mechanical issues, please don't send it back and make me drive that hybrid with toxic batteries inside.

    June 25, 2009 at 5:08 pm |
  16. NMS

    What I don't understand is why are we (US) quick to run over to the Middle East to help save the day for the Iraqis and throw billions of dollars towards that failed effort BUT when our own citizens of the U.S. are suffering here in our own country (in need of decent, quality and affordable healthcare) we simply ignore and dismiss it as unaffordable or that taxes would increase too much. Or that we'll become socialist, or that you'll have to "wait too long" to see a Dr. Come up with all the excuses that you want/can but that doesn't change the fact that our healthcare system NEEDS reform. And it will happen whether you like it or not. THINK ABOUT IT: we ALREADY have to wait!!!! Look at our ER's right now, the average wait time is 3-4 hours. The reason because of that is that so many lost insurance because they lost their jobs and can't afford it anymore, or their physicians will no longer take them. The fact of the matter is we're already waiting. I know I have to wait several months to get an appointment at my one doctor's office. That also raises another issue – a lot less doctor's practicing or are able due to the rediculously high cost of malpractice insurance they have to pay. So let's be smart here and realistic – clearly our health care system is flawed in more aspects than one. There needs to be changes.

    As an employed recent college graduate without insurance and unable to afford it I find it unacceptable and completely unsympathetic that inconsiderate conservative republicans who are so happy with the way things are (at least from what I've read from the comments) group and stereotype or label all of those who are unable to afford health insurance -- as poor unimportant people that don't deserve it. I'm educated and a member of the middle class and can't afford it. What does that say about this country? Best healthcare system in the world? I REALLY don't think so. More like most dysfunctional and non-existent healthcare system because so many people don't have it.

    Also, how are they SO concerned about unborn children/abortion laws and a woman's right to choose but care not at all about the living breathing sick poor – uninsured citizens in their cities. It's completely hypocritical. Chances are these unborn children are better off not being born into a home that can't afford to support/feed/provide for it. Your rich republican asses will be paying for it after all. And look at the horrible untimely deaths of newborn babies being found in trashbags or left to die in dumpsters.

    So, all of you who disagree with me can bicker and write nasty reply comments about how I'm un-educated or unaware or maybe even un-informed. But the truth is it's hitting home for me..this is real and I'd like for all you critics and conservatives to for once INSTEAD give me a solution that you think would work instead of bashing the ideas that just may work. Like they say "don't knock it til you try it".

    June 25, 2009 at 4:59 pm |
  17. Jerry

    Many people here who object to fixing health care in the US are working with wrong information.

    1. Our current health care costs are too high. We (the US) spend about two times what other countries spend and do not have better outcomes. Most of this waste goes to insurance company paperwork, wrongful denial of claims, appeals, and executive salaries & bonuses. Insurance companies keep about 23% of your money for "overhead". Medicare uses about 3%. Think about it.

    2. The public, hospitals, and doctors hate insurance paperwork. Other countries with single payer plans do not have it or need it. Only insurance companies love the paperwork, because it gives them more ways to deny claims and keep the money.

    3. Anyone who worries about "government rationing" is looking the wrong way. We already have rationing in the private sector! The more reasons that insurance companies can find to deny claims, the more profit they make. Profit = premiums – payments. More medical care for you means less profit for them. This is a very simple equation.

    4. About 46 million people in our country do not have health insurance and can not get medical care. We could pay for ALL of these people by cutting out the middleman (insurance companies).

    5. We do not need more medical insurance. We need more medical CARE. Why pay more private for-profit insurance company executives to deny care?

    6. We do NOT have "the best health care in the world". Based upon objective measures like average life expectancy and infant mortality, we are not even in the top ten. The richest people get the best, fastest care. The better off pay too much for so-so insurance that limits your doctors and limits your payments, equaling limited care. Everyone else gets minimal care 3-4 hour waits in very expensive emergency rooms. If they're lucky.

    7. In short, most people in the US get rationed, inadequate care, so that insurance company executives can make millions of dollars in salaries and bonuses. We are the only industrialized nation in the world with this inefficient system. This system is kept in place by a Congress that gets pay-offs, I mean campaign contributions, from lobbyists and one of the most profitable industries in the country.

    8. Remember the "Harry and Louise" commercials that insurance companies paid millions of dollars to air? That worked- we got tricked into keeping the same old system. They made promises. Nothing got better, much got worse. Do not let them trick us again.

    June 25, 2009 at 4:51 pm |
  18. Mike in Santa Fe

    This country is broke. We simply can't afford upward of 3 TRILLION dollars to pay for this... We'd just have to borrow the $$ from China, who owns us already. Come on, people, get real.

    June 25, 2009 at 4:38 pm |
  19. EC

    How are we going to pay for all these health care?

    June 25, 2009 at 4:30 pm |
  20. lindsey

    Why don't people think see the comparison with the Post Office? You think it's efficient because you send a letter for across the country for only $0.44? Unfortunately, the post office ran a deficit of $2.8 billion last year on revenue of $75 billion, meaning it's subsized by taxpayers. Eeverytime you send a $0.44 letter, the post office spends almost $0.47 to process it. Taxpayers have to pick up that extra 2 cents. The US has a population of 300 million. Even saying 70% are working age (that's generous), assuming 100% employment (unrealistic) and considering the poorest 50% don't pay income taxes at all (fact, look it up), that leaves only 105 million taxpayers. Now the post office processed 200 billion pieces last year, which averages to about 670 per person, or $295 (seems high but this includes commerical mail). But only one in three people is paying for the extra two cents, so it's really 2 cents for 2010 letters per taxpayer. Just the 2 cent subsidy costs each TAXPAYER $40 dollars a year FOR MAIL. As a nation, we spend 20 times on healthcare what we do on postage. So each taxpayer should cough up $800 per year ($1600 for couples with both parent's working) in order to wait in longer lines at the hostital when they need medical attention? Let's see how many working families agree to that?

    June 25, 2009 at 4:29 pm |
  21. Katie

    Thank you Edie for supporting this cause that means so much to millions of us. Universal health care should be a right for all Americans. I understand why people who have jobs with insurance are against paying for other peoples' – but you have to remember that the moment you gte sick, you are screwed. It can happen to anyone. I have a 'pre-existing condition' and when I started on my new employer-sponsored insurance, they would not pay for anything regarding this condition for 1 year. That meant that, IN ADDITION to my monthly premium of $90, I STILL had to pay full price ($600 for a 1 month supply) for my medicine (which has no generics because ASACOL has the copyright or several more years). It is absolutely insane. I got the same medicine in France for about $10 for a one month supply – no insurance.
    Don't even get me started on private insurance coverage for self-employed people – my mom had cancer in 2001, she has been declared cancer-free for a year now, yet she still meets rejection after rejection when applying for coverage. The only place who will take her charges over $1000 a month. Who can actually pay for that? How is this even legal? My parents could go on welfare and mooch off of the state, but they absolutely will not. My dad would rather work 12 – 14 hour days. So, there are good people who pay a lot of money for very little coverage.
    This fact that you can't get coverage or that your premiums are astronomical MUST stop. I was always taught that discrimination is wrong and unAmerican (in fact illegal based on age, race, gender, religion)....so why can these health insurance companies discriminate??

    June 25, 2009 at 4:21 pm |
  22. francofish

    My wife and I have both lost our salaried decent-paying jobs in this recession. We are scrambling with part-time and temporary jobs to stay alive and have burned thru our savings and 401K. There is no way we can come up with the money to pay for the COBRA plan and pay our other bills too. The choice is food for the family and the electric bill or insurance. Previous medical bills when we were covered devasted our savings.

    If I have a heart attack or stroke I pray that it is fatal, I can't afford to survive it. Then my sons will get SS benefits until they turn 18. People say that if you don't like things in this country you should leave it. Guess what, I would love to emigrate from here but unless you are wealthy it is impossible to do. We need a national health plan if we want to insist that this is a great country.

    June 25, 2009 at 4:15 pm |
  23. Phil

    I moved to the USA from Canada when I was 30 because of marriage. I've lived here now for 12 years. I believe I'm a pretty good judge on the issue since I've experienced both health care systems. So here it goes, when living in Canada, I did not have to wait to see a doctor, nor did a bureaucrat ever tell me what doctor I could see or when I could see one. In fact all Canadians carry a single card which gives you the ability to see any doctor. In fact there are many walk-in clinics where you can just stroll in and hand in your card. You will be provided care in a prompt manner, this is a fact. My father had a heart attach, he received prompt care, triple bypass, all went well, no waiting. Government never told us what hospital to visit. By the way, it was a state of the art hospital in Toronto (Sunnybrook). Both I and dad never received a bill, all treatment was covered. As for living here in the USA, the story is much different. After my mortgage, my biggest bill is my health insurance. The biggest heart ache I have is having to deal with insurance companies, co pays, medical bills for treatment which I was told was covered but big brother(insurance company) said it wasn't. I've had to wait months for specialists visits and could only see those in my network(again dictated by my insurance company). So for those who think private insurance is better, I say to you, do your research, don't just repeat what you hear on talk radio or scare tactics from insurance talking heads. Don't knock it if you never tried it. I've tried both systems, by a long shot the having a single payer system would be your best option or at least a public option for better health care.

    June 25, 2009 at 4:14 pm |
  24. Chris in MI

    Edward in Cali June 25th, 2009 3:26 pm ET

    Can't make your point without calling the POTUS 'trash?'

    June 25, 2009 at 4:13 pm |
  25. Murray

    Victoria Nikolov, you're an idiot. Universal health care works very well in Canada. People with serious health issues are treated immediately. They do not wait weeks for treatment or even days. Canadas health care system will get better not worse once the USA adopts a universal health care system. There will no longer be a financial motive for them to leave Canada for higher paying US jobs motivated by greed. Health care is a universal human right that should not be run for personal profit. If you want to be rich then go into business. If you want to help people, only then should you pursue a job in health care. The main two reasons people in the US are against universal health care are either you're uninformed of how universal health care really works or you'e in the business of getting rich working for private health care companies whose number 1 concern is making money.

    June 25, 2009 at 4:09 pm |
  26. Dan

    So many respondents talk about these nightmare public health scenarios. Yet, I have yet to hear even one explain why, if public health insurance is so awful, our Canadian, English, and Australian friends HAVE CHOSEN, and continue to choose, a public scheme? Are they just stupid? Delusional?

    Or, could it be that with a little distance the idea of "privatized" health care makes about as much sense as a privatized police force or military? Can you imagine that – "I'm sorry m'am, I can't protect you from those burglars – you haven't paid up this month."

    As a businessperson, my job is to maximize profits. If I were in the health care industry, that would mean limiting care and excluding the people who needed the most help. Great for my company, bad for patients. Is this really the best system we Americans can come up with?

    June 25, 2009 at 4:09 pm |
  27. Christine Caudill

    Carl, thanks for the feedback. I was just correcting Victoria's reporting of what he said. Actually, I was quite disappointed with Obama's ABC performance last night. I thought he was evasive and non-specific. Please don't assume those of us who voted for him always agree with what he says or does. I didn't mentioned in my 1st post that I don't currently have health insurance because of a pre-existing condition. I have been very careful to always work for a large corporation so that i have insurance. However, I have a special needs child who was in crisis and since my husband worked for a large corp and had good family coverage, I recently resigned to be a full time mom. Three months after I left my job, he was laid off (directly related to the current economic meltdown). Cobra payments were $1,200 per month, which we made, but when one check arrived a week late, they canceled the policy. We decided that since Cobra is so expensive, we would go to Kaiser P ($423/month) – they accepted my husband and daughter but rejected me due to the pre-existing condition. I have yet to find anyone who will insure me. Meanwhile, we are both in the job market diligently trying to rectify the situation. If I am struck with a catastrophic disease or accident, we will likely go bankrupt – working thru our retirement savings and emergency savings. I actually found myself thinking the other day that maybe I wouldn't seek treatment and leave the money to my husband and daughter while I "check out" of life here on earth. I have NO expectation that the government should pay my bills, I just want to be able to buy insurance so I have some coverage.

    June 25, 2009 at 4:07 pm |
  28. dc

    We’ve already got a government ran health care system that doesn’t work. Why do we want ObamaCare? Hasn’t the government already proven they can’t manage programs such as this?

    I’m tired of listening to the complaining “they don’t have insurance”. It’s pretty simple, get a job with better benefits or go pay for whatever policy you want. It’s called responsibility. I don’t want to hear “I’m a starving artist”. If you’re starving that should be pretty good sign; you’re not much of an artist. Maybe it’s time for a career change!

    Instead we’ve got all the libs out here screaming to increase taxes on those of us that do have responsibility. They want to steel more money out of our checks to pay for all those poor starving artists. The true reform needs to start with attitudes. It’s not the government’s responsibility to provide you with a house, a car, insurance or anything else in our day to day lives; it’s our individual responsibility to take care of ourselves. I take care of my family and I expect you do the same.

    June 25, 2009 at 4:06 pm |
  29. Vito

    By all means, rush Congress into making an important decision. We've seen what great decision makers they are, even when they have several years to debate an issue. We've also seen just how well the government is able to manage anything placed under its control. Why not give them a shot at healthcare? I'm sure everyone placed under their care will sing songs of praise when they receive their top-knotch, well coordinated, easy to sign up for, easy to pay for, patient-oriented treatment that comes at only a marginal cost to tax payers.

    June 25, 2009 at 4:05 pm |
  30. Barry

    It still amazes me that people like Victoria Nikolov make things up to support their aurguments. I am a Canadian with family and friends who are doctors in both Canada and the United States and we frequently discuss the pros and cons of each system. 15-20 years ago I kept being told by my US Doctor friends (my brother included) that the US system was handsdown the best but they have given up the fight and talk about the persistent failures and frustration of the US sytem for people with and without healthcare benefits.

    We agree that there is no question that the Canadian system is not perfect but, as part of a civil society, the benefits of the system outweigh every falsehood that people like Victoria perpetuate. With a vast country, remote communities and large population centres the delivery of the equal and accessible services is costly (we pay a bit more in taxes) and is not always easy to deliver. But, everyone in Canada has access to a healthcare system that has some of the finest doctors, nurses, hospitals, clinics and programs anywhere in the world . These professionals are all involved in the continued improvement of a system to achieve acceptable wait-time standards (whcih sometime means paying for us to go somewhere where the waitime is shorter) and access to services throughout all regions of the country. There are times when we we need to be advocates for ourselves, friends, family and neighbours to ensure we get the best and quickest treatment. In the US it doesn't matter what you do, if you don't have health coverage you can lose everything (house, job, etc.) or you die or both and try fighting the beauracrats at HMO's and Insurance Companies who, decide where you can go to get treatment, and take the medical decisions out of the professionals hands and decide on the your treatment options and make life and death decisions (and, yes, lots of DEATH decisions) for the sake of profit.

    This is what the Canadian Healthcare System does for Me:

    My 80 year old father-in-law have a knee replacement (sencond one)and my 81 year old step-father a hip replacement this year. My 81 year old mother and 73 year old mother-in-law who had cataract eye surgery this year. My wife had breast-cancer (her mother had it a few years after her and is a survivor too) caught in the early stages (surgery, chemotheraphy and radiation) and and gone through 3 or 4 scares over the passed 10 years (all the scares because of what has been caught throught constant follow-up she has through examinations, mammograms, mri's and other leading edge breast cancer detection methods only available at places like Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto). My 79 year old Uncle is going through Cancer treatment now and the whole process started after his family doctor noticed something unusual and had him into a specials with in weeks and surrgery and radiation shortly after that. And the list goes on...my niece who was born with a hare-lip and cleft pallet who has had three major surgeries (world-leading program at Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto), orthodontics and is eligible for final plastic surgery if she wants it when she wants as a teenager (she's now 11). My 21 year old nephew with Crohn's disease who was first in the hospital at 2years old and has various surgeries and constant follow-up. My 3 1/2 year old son with Down Syndrowm who has had the support of genetisists, orthopaedic surgeons, cardiologists and many more resources.

    That a partial list of what my tax dollars have done so my family, friends, neighbours and the rest of our society can live with the security of a healthcare system accesible to all of us. I'll keep it. Thank you!

    June 25, 2009 at 4:05 pm |
  31. Joe D.

    If you don't pay taxes you shouldn't have a say. I work in the medical support division of child support and the number of people who have children and don't pay a penny is appalling. You know the system is screwed when you see women having their second, third and fourth children on Medical Assistance. I have been doing this for 25 years and all free medical does is encourage abuse and fraud.
    Now they are talking about taxing health care benefits. That is nothing more than a giant tax increase that will be frittered away like all the other tax money.
    Small employers are the backbone of this country and all we ever do is make it more difficult for them to stay in business.
    This is a liberal ploy to solidify their non working base. I am all for making insurance available to everyone at a reasonable rate. That can be done lot of ways besides making medical coverage "free" for everyone.
    I can only imagine how many people will suddenly need Oxycotin or
    Vicadin to get thru the day. People will be setting up stands on street corners. This is a baaad idea.

    June 25, 2009 at 4:02 pm |
  32. DAVID

    Melissa, you are one uninformed and terribly dimwitted individual. I think WE ALL need to listen very closely to what Victoria Nikolov is saying. God Bless you Victoria for all your wisdom and foresight into the nightmares of socialized medicine. I pray everyday that God keeps this Great Country as ONE NATION UNDER GOD!!!! Obama is bringing this country down. GOD HELP US ALL

    June 25, 2009 at 3:59 pm |
  33. a health economist

    Say, Victoria Nikolov. I took it upon myself to look up some of the "facts" you stated. The rate of deaths of women with breast cancer is actually declining. The US health care is ranked 37th in the world by the World Health Organization, not number 1.

    If you really are who you say you are, I have sympothy for what you and your family have gone through. If you are simply a conservative that has bought the free market rhetoric hook line and sinker and blindly shuns all things "socialist" (which include our police/fire stations, roads and military) and you are posing as someone else to get sympathy, you should be ashamed of yourself.

    My money is on the latter.

    June 25, 2009 at 3:58 pm |
  34. Kirk

    Can we please stop saying the government can't run anything? It is a meaningless statement when compared to what the insurance companies have done with health care. Does anyone really think they are doing a good job and want to keep this excuse for a system.? We hear, oh you will have to wait for care...when was the last time the doctor told you, "Oh, I'm just finishing my coffee...come down when you like and we'll see whats wrong"? I have a small growth on my ear and it takes 3 months to see someone....is this what we all want. Have you seen how much your insurance cap is...Go read your policy is it $1 million, $1.5 million. Most are around $1.5 million. We don't realize that when you hit that you are done.

    Please this not time for a discussion....this is a time for people to get mad and demand that changes are made. We are all at risk everyday and just don't know it. The most important thing that happens is that the insurance companies are not at the table...they bring no value to the discussion and have totally destroyed what might have been a healthcare system.

    June 25, 2009 at 3:57 pm |
  35. Clifford G. Sutton

    After six years of employment at a local hospital, I can tell you this. A hospital is like a beach full of bull elephant seals, egos banging against egos while fighting for power, money, turf and prestige. This goes from the CEO, CFO, department heads, care specialists, RN's as well as the doctors. While all the while decrying the lack of profit for the hospital, all these folks are walking home with bags full of money. Doctor recruiting is pure abasement as hospitals have to build them clinics, get them in with established doctors or fund new groups just to get them to admit patients. And billing is never what is initially estimated as they manage to "plus" the sale at every opportunity. Add in the price gouging by the drug companies and you have robber barons running out the door. Ground zero for health care is the hospital. Shut down the rampaging egos, close down the money faucet and the "specialists" will fall in line or forego their specialites. Where else are they going to go – Canada, Mexico?

    June 25, 2009 at 3:54 pm |
  36. Jordan

    What amazes me is the way people throw numbers around to make their point, without actually knowing what those numbers mean or don't mean... ie: "46 million people in our country are uninsured"... Thats a big, eye-catching number... but the reality behind that number is that estimates by the governments own investigations have shown that that number is artificially high. Included in those numbers are LARGE groups of people who could afford healthcare, but willingly choose to not obtain it. It also includes a large group of people who did not have insurance at some point in the last year, but who have insurance now (the questionaire wants to identify people that went without coverage for any portion of time during the year, it does not identify people without coverage at time of survey). The way it is often presented, one would believe that there are 46 million people without coverage at any given time. That is simply not true. NOT TRUE. The real number would be much, much smaller- government estimates put it closer to 16-18 million. Thats still a lot of people, but use of incorrect numbers ( or more specifically real numbers being twisted to suit an argument), is disingenuous and defeats the purpose of debate- to come to compromise based on reality, not slander and lies from one side towards the other.

    People want to shout about equality and access for all... and shout down anybody who speaks out against healthcare reform as nuts... lets have a real, open, honest debate for a change. If somebody has a different opinion than you that doesn't mean they are against reform, it just means they envision a reform different than the one you do.

    June 25, 2009 at 3:53 pm |
  37. John

    I love the liberals who think that their sense of morality should be paid for by others. Edie Falco claims to have friends and family that are in a position of not having health care. Well why doesn't Edie pay for their health care instead of asking me to pay for it? For those of you that think health care is a right or a democratic principal, think again. It isn't! Why stop at health care, everybody should have a right to a nice car and let's throw in a nice new home as well.

    The so called Health Care reform talked about now is a sham. It's a big liberal give away using the trickle up poverty principal. Why doesn't someone talk about why health care is so expensive? How much is spent by the medical profession to pay for liability insurance? How much cost is associated with government red tape? Fix the problem so that working people can afford health care, don't steal my money to pay for your insurance.

    June 25, 2009 at 3:52 pm |
  38. Ted Gibson

    It's sad to think that Edie is the best spokes person CNN could report on the topic of National Health Care. There are problems with our health care system, BUT, if it's so bad why do people from almost every other country in the world want to come here to be treated. There are things that can be put in place to make it even better, but name me one program the government has operated that they have done a good job and really benefited the people,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, NONE. IF it's going to be fixed we have to do it through the means in the private sector and leave the government to keep our borders safe. If government really wanted to fix the "problem" why haven't they suggested they give up their health care program,,,,,,,,,, right.

    June 25, 2009 at 3:51 pm |
  39. Ellen Rudolph

    Edward in California:

    By referring to our President as "trash" shows your true colors. It takes "one' to know "one." Why not do something constructive with your life other than whine? At least Obama did something. A place you would never aspire to.

    June 25, 2009 at 3:51 pm |
  40. terry t

    Please take care of the 20% that does not have health insurance. WE already do by being taxed on our own health insurance. Social Security is broke no one is fixing that. Health care is where it is at because people know how to work the system. We working people pay for it all. We have illegal immigrants we pay for them. We bail out bank and own car companies. Does any one see we have no money and our grand children are going to pay for all this. We should be taking care of our old and our poor. Almost every state has some kind of health insurance for the poor. We give too much and the poor has no reason why they should try harder to better their lives. If we get a national health we are in for big trouble wake up everybocy

    June 25, 2009 at 3:50 pm |
  41. Joe C

    Yes – I'm glad to see someone addressing this very important issue.
    We do need to fix the healthcare system in this country. Fact #1: Of all the advanced countries in the world, the US spends 2 – 3 times more per individual. Fact # 2 – The US with it's state of the art reputation in medicine and healthcare ranks # 36 in LIFE EXPECTANCY in the world! Pretty scary – so obviously something is not working here!

    June 25, 2009 at 3:49 pm |
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