A new season begins

by Lorien E. Menhennett

“Lorien, Congratulations in advance on your acceptance to Dominican University’s Post-Baccalaureate Pre-Medical program … ”

So began the e-mail I received Monday afternoon from Michael Morosovillo, Director of Transfer Admission at Dominican University. I skimmed the rest of the e-mail – something about submitting a $100 deposit, then contacting the program director, Dr. Louis Scannicchio, about enrolling for classes – and then reread the first sentence again. And again. And again.

I am really doing this. And with each step forward, each small victory, it becomes more real.

My news couldn’t have come at a more interesting time in the world of health care. Monday was the day in between the Sunday night passage of President Barack Obama’s landmark health care reform bill and his signing of it on Tuesday. His victory means that the medical profession I will enter will be – hopefully – a much changed one.

“Today, after almost a century of trying; today, after over a year of debate; today, after all the votes have been tallied, health insurance reform becomes law in the United States of America,” Obama said at the bill signing Tuesday (as quoted in the New York Times). “You know, it is fitting that Congress passed this historic legislation this week, for as we mark the turning of spring, we also mark a new season in America.”

A new season for me; a new season for the country.

And this year – the year I begin my journey toward a career in medicine – some of the proposed changes will go into effect, according to Obama’s remarks at the White House:

  • 4 million small business people will receive tax credits to help them cover the cost of health insurance for their employees
  • tens of thousands of people with pre-existing conditions will now be able to buy health care coverage
  • insurance companies will no longer be able to drop people’s coverage when they become ill
  • insurance companies will no longer be able to place restrictions or annual/lifetime limits on the amount of care people receive
  • new insurance plans will be required to offer free preventive care
  • young adults will be allowed to stay on their parents’ insurance plans until age 26
  • Medicare recipients will receive preventive care without copayments or deductibles

And in four years – by the time I am (hopefully) in medical school – more health care system changes will have been implemented.

Some people are terrified of these changes. Some believe that these reforms do not bode well for medical practitioners. But I believe that doctors truly have a lot to gain in these reforms, for they will make it possible to adequately care for more patients. Those who really have something to lose are the insurance companies and their executives, who have been milking the American people for decades.

We have yet to see exactly how things will shake out, of course; only time will tell. And there are battles yet to be fought, as many in Congress have vowed to work for the repeal of this bill. Others have talked about lawsuits. Change is always hard, and hard-fought, and this is obviously no exception.

But it is time for change. For me, and for my country. I am looking forward to being a part of it.