Turning on the news tonight, all one hears is about the breakdown in negotiations between Democrats and Republicans on raising the debt ceiling and reducing the national debt. Will the United States default on its debt? Will cooler heads prevail, or will the country, with the rest of the world on its heels, be dragged into a dangerous vortex of economic chaos due to the inability of some to set aside politics for the sake of the greater good of the country? These are the questions which everyone is asking, and no one dares predict what will be seven days from now when the deadline arrives.
Many look on at the whole process with disgust and see this as a sign that this country's political system is fundamentally broken, evidence of a real disconnect between those who were elected to represent us and the citizens who sent them there in the first place.
My perspective, though, is different. I am in Washington this evening, part of a delegation of patients, providers, and government relations people from Children's Hospital Boston participating in the family advocacy day of NACH (National Association of Children's Hospitals). Tomorrow we will visit the offices of several Representatives and Senators from Massachusetts, Maine and New Hampshire, all of whom have made time in their very busy schedules to meet with us. We will explain why continuing to fund pediatric specialty training is so important, and why Medicaid, which provides medical coverage for more than one third of the nation's children, needs to be protected.
That some of the most powerful people in the land are willing to meet with and listen to us, despite everything else going on right now shows me that the system does, in fact, work. That those of us who come to make the case for those who cannot vote and have no political clout of their own find in Congress a receptive and eager audience proves that this really is a government of the people, elected by the people, for the people.
I have a very good feeling going in to our meetings tomorrow, and hope that we will succeed in making the case for supporting those measures which will maintain and strengthen access to high quality health care for all the children of this country. Hopefully, too, common sense will prevail, and our elected officials will find a way to resolve the debt ceiling and deficit crises as well.
Dennis Rosen, M.D.
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