Since When is Fixing a Problem a Liberal Cause?

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This was a very big week for health care in this country. As we all know by now, President Obama signed the Senate Finance Committee Bill into law. The reconciliation process is underway and within a few weeks, this country will be taking a big step forward in transforming our nation’s health care delivery system. I have been writing my blog for quite some time on the importance of health care reform and have always tried to explain why health care reform is so important. I have never been shy in expressing my view that reforming the current system is not only good for the country, but the best way to prevent a total collapse of the health care in system general.

Over the next few weeks and months, I will continue to explain how health care reform is going to impact you, the American consumer, insurers, hospitals, doctors, pharmaceutical companies and device manufacturers. Everyone one will see changes down the road. However, today is about making something very clear: I am not a liberal. Why is it that when someone sees a problem, tries to explain it, and offers a suitable solution, he or she is considered a liberal? To me, health care reform is not about being a conservative or a liberal. It is about fixing something that is broken in our country.

I run a very large physician group for NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City. I am the son of a retired physician and I host a radio show where I have the unpaid pleasure each and every week of taking calls from listeners and explaining how the current system works to help solve their problems. Whether people are stuck with health insurance problems, doctor/hospital bills they cannot pay, or something else, the radio show attempts to provide a path to solving the problem. Sadly, sometimes, there are problems that simply cannot be solved, such as helping someone find access to health insurance that they can afford.

After posting one of my more recent blogs, I was criticized for being part of the problem simply because I work for a hospital system. The fact is, I was merely trying to explain to people what a $20 aspirin is all about. I did not say it made sense. I did not say we should charge $20 for the aspirin. I even offered a solution to how it can work better. Yet I received many negative comments. All I was trying to do is explain how it works and clarify some really bad journalism I saw on the television networks. Last Sunday, during an interview with Jenna Wolfe on the Today Show, I had the privilege of explaining what to expect in the short term with the pending passage of health care reform. Later that day, there was a conservative blog posting stating I am radical Huffington Post Liberal.

Plain and simple, it is just not true. Our health care system is broken. There is no perfect legislation that could ever solve all the problems we have today and make everyone happy at the same time. This legislation is as good as it can get, for now. It is far from perfect and has plenty in it for everyone to hate. Like any new program, it will be reviewed and amended over time.

For me, health care reform has always been about protecting everyone, myself included, from a system that was failing. Sure, there are 30 million uninsured Americans (maybe 40 million, who really knows the number), but all of us are vulnerable. One job loss or one health calamity away from a potentially devastating financial crisis, we want to protect ourselves. Fearing a lack of health insurance does not make someone a liberal. It makes them practical. I have met many practical liberals and an equal number of practical conservatives. In the end, we simply have different views on various problems. Who decided reforming a dysfunctional system is a liberal cause? I have spoken to many conservatives on my radio show who have lost their jobs and cannot get health care insurance. They are still conservative but want health care insurance. They believe in reform but still vote republican. I think the point I am trying to make is whatever ones party affiliation; let us all try to see the good that is in the health care reform bill.

I will continue to blog about what works and what does not work (the good and the bad). I will be doing this from my various personal and professional perspectives as someone living and working within the health care system. People are always welcome to disagree with my perspective and I welcome the opportunity to speak with them on my radio show each Thursday from 12-2 pm (est). A Sirius/XM satellite radio account is not needed. Call 877-698-3627. Just try to understand what I am saying. If I am wrong, so be it, it is certainly not the first time. But one thing I can tell you for sure, I am not liberal and I am not conservative. I am happy in my place right down the middle.

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