Senator Ted Kennedy on the Importance of Health Care

Senator Ted Kennedy has shown true leadership in his quest for health care reform over the last four decades. I’ve been a small business owner for the last several years, after having been with two global technology companies. Health care reform and insurance, in particular, is critical to our country. Without it, we will certainly be driven into far more financial turmoil than we are in today.

I recently read Senator Ted Kennedy’s health care reform article printed in Newsweek called “The Cause of My Life”. In this article Mr. Kennedy talks about why he has tirelessly lobbied for universal health care throughout his career.

Mr. Kennedy has had plenty of tragedy and medical issues throughout his family’s life. Health care reform became a rallying cry for him when his 12 year old son, Teddy, had his right leg amputated because of cancer. During his son’s cancer treatments, he met and spoke with many families, who unlike the Kennedy’s did not have the ability to afford quality medical care.

As a small business owner with two children, we are all too acutely aware of how important it is to have health care coverage. This is especially true if you are the only bread winner and there is no other coverage.

My elderly father was recently hospitalized after fainting at home. After 5 days of hospitalization, they finally deduced that he had anemia due to a bleeding ulcer. The cost of the hospital stay … sixty four thousand dollars ($64,000). This didn’t even include the 911 ambulance ride, or the doctor’s visits. Fortunately, for my father he had insurance, which covered most of the cost. Can you imagine someone who could not afford this cost?

Senator Ted Kennedy had additional experiences within his own immediate family. His son Patrick was hospitalized several times for serious asthma attacks and his daughter, Kara, was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2002. Fortunately for both children, their father was able to pay for medical treatment and they are both alive and well today. Without Mr. Kennedy’s health care reform, countless families would not be so lucky.

Mr. Kennedy and actually all of the Kennedy brothers have always been a champion of the common people. He could have chosen easier policies on which to fight and win, but he chose this cause because he knew this is a cause that affects all of us at some point in our lives. We are one of the few industrialized countries without some form of universal health care.

I also just returned from visiting one of my college friends who is terminally ill, also with cancer. For weeks, his insurance company denied him coverage to go to the hospital. Only after pleading with them and telling them how ill he was, did they “grant” him coverage. Then, when it was determined that he only had a few weeks to live, they initially denied him hospice care to live out his short life at home. Why would any sane health care insurance company deny someone a better quality of life, even though it’s been determined that it also saves them money?

Senator Ted Kennedy may well succeed in death as he tried to do in life … to create real health care reform. With the support of Barack Obama’s administration, we could be on our way to creating a country that lives up to its creed of taking care of the poor and the rich, the old and the young, and the uninsured, as well as the insured.