What was I doing this week in Tampa at the site of the Republican National Convention? And why — as a strong proponent of universal health care- and so-called Obamacare — would l want to appear on a panel with staunch conservatives like former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott and Congressman Tom Price at their party?
Because I think the NCL’s point of view – that millions of Americans are suffer daily in this country because they can’t afford health insurance – was worth airing at this panel, sponsored by The Hill newspaper. It so happened that the panel’s moderator is a friend of NCL’s, Robin Strongin, who publishes the “Disruptive Women” blog. When a slot opened up, she asked whether I’d like to speak, I said sure!
Though I didn’t have a chance to go inside the Convention Center because that requires advanced credentials, I did get to chat with the delegates coming and going from the hall, watched Governor Romney’s wife Ann and NJ Governor Chris Christie speak while sitting in a Tampa restaurant next door to Chris Matthews taping MSNBC’s hardball. The panel discussion remained lively throughout and providing the consumer point of view proved provocative. Both the elected officials called for repealing the Affordable Care Act. I noted that many countries – China, Thailand, Rwanda, Ghana that are far less affluent than the US — provide universal health care to their citizens for the sole reason that it makes good economic sense. I also threw the question out to my co-panelists: what are we going to do for the 50+ million Americans without health insurance? That got us into a heated discussion.
Dr. Donald Palmisano also sat on the panel. He used to head the AMA, which today supports the bill, but his focus has always been on limiting injured patients’ access to medical malpractice lawsuits, a position we disagree with strongly.
So when NCL supporters see me on our Facebook Page standing next to Trent Lott and smiling, please know that we haven’t changed sides in this debate; to the contrary, we are getting our position out more strongly than ever that the Affordable Care Act is a great new law, certainly far from perfect, but provides millions of currently uninsured consumers and patients with long sought health care coverage that we should all support.