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December 30th, 2009
01:53 PM ET

Two parents' view of health care reform

Editor’s note:
We profiled the King family in our 2008 documentary, “Broken Government: Health Care Critical Condition.” Matthew King was born in 2005 with a congenital heart defect requiring intensive medical care, which quickly ate up the family’s $2 million health insurance policy. The Kings avoided disaster only because Michael’s employer, the Las Vegas Police Department, raised the lifetime limit on its policies. We invited Terri and Michael to share their concerns about the health care bills that were passed by the House and Senate.

By Mike and Terri King

As the parents of a medically fragile child who will need open-heart surgeries for the rest of his life, we are terrified about these health care bills. We think this is just a gateway to socialized medicine, which we are against!

First and foremost, when the government pays your medical bills, it can restrict your behavior. Just imagine helmets required for children’s soccer, or a ban on fattening foods. We’re also afraid of the 40 percent excise tax on expensive health care plans. Won’t some companies just drop coverage altogether, and transfer the cost to the government? (The House bill would require most companies to offer coverage, but the Senate bill has fewer requirements). Won’t they pass on those exorbitant costs to their customers? Most alarming to a family like ours: Will they cut back needed treatments to make the policies less expensive?

The bill is full of new taxes – more than a dozen, and we might be missing some. One tax will be on our medical devices, which is insidious because it’s up to the government to define what is a “medical device.” For a while they talked about about taxing tampons and Q-tips. That’s out, but the Senate bill does have a big tax on tanning beds. What’s next? With all these new taxes, our premiums are going to skyrocket.

We believe this health care overhaul would leave us with less choice in Matthew's health care. We’re afraid that with all the new taxes sucking money out of the system, there will be less funding, and less incentive, to innovate and find new medications.

We also feel we’ll spend much more time in waiting rooms, waiting to see our doctors. Have you been to an emergency room or a department of motor vehicles lately? Citizens in countries with socialized medicine can wait months to see a specialist. Prior to an open-heart surgery, our son needs tests from many different specialists. From what we’ve heard, in Britain or Canada it could take months or even years to get that done. When the pressure in Matthew’s heart begins to rise again, we won’t have that long to wait.

Instead of increasing government involvement in our lives, we should lessen it. We need freedom to decide what we want for our families, whether it’s a health savings account and catastrophic coverage, or sticking with a traditional policy. We need more insurance choices, with companies allowed to sell policies in any state. We also need tort reform. Something needs to be done to stop expensive and frivolous lawsuits that force doctors to order needless tests and pay hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in malpractice insurance.

The health care system might be broken now, but this bill is a mess that’s not going to fix anything.


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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.

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