Physician: This is why I support health care reform

March 05, 2010

At my hospital I recently cared for a woman with a limb infection. She used to have a job, an income and insurance. She had a small wound that was being managed by her outpatient providers. But then she lost her job, her home, her insurance -- and with that, her ability to afford ongoing care. She did what she could, improvising dressings using gauze and newspapers. Eventually the wound became infected, and she required expensive hospital care, treatments and surgery for a fairly preventable health problem. This is why I and tens of thousands of physicians support health care reform: because we witness unnecessary calamities like this one every single day.

But it's not just physicians who want change. Some weeks ago, a dozen medical students from Baltimore and I met with residents from the Eastern Shore to talk health care. Although many had questions about the legislative proposals, when they heard about specific provisions, they found they agreed with many of them.

Still, many lawmakers remain on the fence, including Maryland Rep. Frank Kratovil. But while they wait and think about it, the country continues to spend billions on avoidable care, and millions of Americans continue to be vulnerable to the next illness or the next turn in the economy. We cannot wait another generation to help them.

Dr. Alejandro Necochea, Baltimore

The writer is Maryland state director of Doctors for America.

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