Monday, September 28, 2009

It's hard to debate experience . . .

I'm currently editing a WMRA's "One Person's Voice" segment that I hope (do cross your fingers, please) will be ready to air during Wednesday's Morning Edition. It is the story of Jessica Penner, a young woman who's been dealing with Ollier's disease (bony tumors that affect limb growth) since she was a small child.

First and foremost, Jessica's is a story of courage, remarkable resilience, and a seemingly indestructible sense of humor. But it's also a story of the power insurance companies currently exercise over doctors' ability to prescribe treatments.

There's probably no more contentious issue in both Washington and our communities at this moment than health care reform. It's that rare issue that is both national in scope and personally important. The bills before Congress are terribly complex; indeed the central, broad-brush issue involved is terribly complex: What should be the role of government in maintaining our individual well-being?

I'm a reporter, not a pundit. It's not my job to lecture; it's my job to tell stories. I have long thought, however, that the best way to understand a complex issue is to first do the hard work of educating oneself on what's involved, and then to filter that information through the lens of actual experience.

A lot of the health care debate hinges on whether or not privately-run insurance companies do the best job possible of safe-guarding their policy-holders' health. I've never had to turn my life over to an insurance company, but Jessica Penner has. To me, that makes her experiences as relevant to the debate as the wisest words of the wisest policy wonk in the world.

Programming note: Virginia Insight (today at 3 pm) addresses an important health care issue, the ethics of human research trials. Tom Graham's guest will be Robin Fretwell Wilson, J.D. - Professor of Law, Washington and Lee University, and co-editor of the new book, Health Law and Bioethics: Cases in Context.

1 comment:

  1. Here's hoping the story airs on Wed. I'll be listening!