FRIDAY, Jan. 24 — As the old phrase goes, "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."
The old metaphor popped into U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin's head as she strolled through Sparrow Hospital's emergency room this morning. How many patients wouldn't be there if they'd only taken care of themselves? How many patients would have taken care of themselves if they could have afforded a primary care physician?
Today was Stop 25 on Slotkin's "Costs of Care" Tour of America's healthcare system. and Slotkin, a Democrat from Holly who represents all of Ingham County, still bothered that citizens are being priced out of their healthcare. She's bothered by a lot of things, actually. Such as:
— Healthcare is the only commodity the American people purchase without having any idea of the cost until they get the bill long after the fact?
— Insulin — something invented in 1921 and whose patent was given away for free — is costing 400% more than 10 years ago.
— An emergency room in Lansing is packed with patients who let their health deteriorate because they couldn't get into a doctor's office weeks or months before?
— People like her father, Curt, shouldn't have to cross the Detroit River to pick up more affordable drugs because Canada's government worked out a better deal with the drug companies.
And then there's this:
"I'm a CIA officer who was trained to investigate complex organizations, and health care is the most complicated system I've ever encountered," she said.
As of now, Michigan's 8th Congressional District member isn't looking at any drastic disentanglement reforms. She doesn't support Medicare for all. "I'm not sure that the government is prepared or qualified to take over the health care for every single American.”
Like Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg, Slotkin supports a "public option," the government-offered insurance product that was cut out of the Affordable Care Act because it was viewed as too controversial. She supports the ACA and its goal of getting people coverage, but recognizes statistics showing that after a low in 2016, the number of uninsured citizens is going up.
She sees bringing in drugs from Canada as being a "Band-Aid." Being allowed to dig deeper into the pricing scheme of pharmaceuticals is in order.
"Everyone has their own specific view on what's going on, but you have to see the whole chain," she said. "You can't just look at one piece of it."
Today it was a Sparrow emergency room tour. Yesterday it was the VINA Dental Clinic in Brighton for a roundtable with seniors' health-care concerns.
A recent Oakland University poll showed healthcare being the No. 1 concern of 26.1% of likely Michigan presidential voters. It's statistically tied with the economy (26.7%) as being at the top of that list. Maybe more importantly, a 53.1% majority of Michigan voters disapprove of President Trump's handling of the issue, giving Slotkin a chance to connect with more people on the issue.
"If you take a step back and look at the whole thing, it's just not right," Slotkin said. "People are literally being priced out of their lives."
(Kyle Melinn of the Capitol news service MIRS is firstname.lastname@example.org.)