Pete Olson- Setting the Record Straight on My Town Hall

Setting the Record Straight on My Town Hall
Posted by: Townhall.com Staff at 4:08 PM
Guest blog by Rep. Pete Olson

Today, the liberal blogosphere chose to run a 2 minute clip of a recent two
hour town hall that I held in my district to discuss issues in Washington.
Health care was certainly an important component of that dialogue, but the
clip being distributed is not a factual representation of my position or the
issue that was raised.

The original clip shows me discussing the concerns of a mother (Brittany
Kraft) who lives in the 22nd Congressional District of Texas. This mother
came to earlier town hall meetings that I held to express her concerns with
me that if the proposed government option were in place her son might not
have been born.

Once I raised this point, several people responded without allowing me the
opportunity to make clear her concerns. The person who made the clip that is
being circulated shamelessly accused me of exploiting a child to make a
political point.

Aside from this reprehensible accusation, the facts are not made clear in
the blogs circulating the story.

Excerpt from a blog posting:

OLSON: Britney is convinced that her son would not have been born if
there was a public option. She wouldn’t have had the choices to be able to
go find a doctor she wants. [.] For those of you who say it’s not true,
don’t talk to me, talk to Britney.

ATTENDEE 1: That’s not true!

ATTENDEE 2: The insurance company turned her down, not the government!
The private insurance turned her down, not the government! My gosh! . That’s
not the government!

I did not claim that her insurance denied care for her child. Nor did I say
the government denied her any care. I simply stated that doctors at the time
did not feel that her baby could be treated and recommended termination of
the pregnancy. Brittany was not willing to accept that as the only option,
so she sent fetal echocardiograms to specialists across the country and was
able to find a doctor who could assist with the birth and treatment of her
son, which included a heart transplant when he was less than three weeks
old.

Her private insurance did cover the costs for all of the procedures she
needed and she now has a wonderful 7-year-old son who is still under medical
care for the immunosuppressive treatments that accompany an organ
transplant.

Brittany Kraft’s concern (and she has been reading H.R. 3200 page by page
herself) is that a government run plan might take the advice of the doctors
in Texas and decide not to cover the care she received.

That was my point and her point as well. It is not only important to me to
set the record straight with respect to the truth about my position on a
family’s personal story, but also to illustrate the deep concerns that
millions of Americans have with respect to who will be making the decisions
about our quality of care.

When people engage in this debate it is critically important to be truthful
and accurate when relaying the facts.

Below is a direct memo written by Brittany Kraft to my office, outlining her
concerns with a government run health care option.

Here’s the short of Josh’s story as it relates to the current healthcare
debate (as told by his mother, Brittany):

When I was 24 weeks pregnant, my unborn child was diagnosed with
Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome. The only options I was given by network
(San Antonio) doctors were to go to the hospital when I stopped feeling
kicks for 12 hours OR to put the child to sleep in utero (terminating the
pregnancy), and go to the hospital for a stillbirth.

I found the 5 best pediatric cardio-thoracic surgeons I could find
online & sent videotapes of the fetal echocardiograms. One came back saying
what I needed to hear – “if you come here to have him, we’ll do everything
we can to save him.” That was Dr. Ed Bove at the University of Michigan, Ann
Arbor. I contacted my insurance company (then United Healthcare) and they
offered to cover all costs since there was no care offered for my child in
network. Josh received a successful heart transplant when he was 19 days old
at the University of Michigan, Mott Hospital

Josh is now 7 years old and FULL of energy, you would never know of any
of his setbacks to look at him. President Obama, in addressing concerned
senior citizens, said that the government did not want to make health care
decisions. The caveat that he did NOT mention, was that while the care the
patient WANTS will still be available to them, thus allowing the patient to
make the decision, the government may opt NOT to cover it because they do
not deem it to be the best path forward. NO bureaucrat would have approved
the cost of Joshua’s care in Michigan when all network doctors said the
child would never be born alive.

While some may say I can stay on my private plan so that government will
NOT get involved in Josh’s healthcare, they are not considering the far
reaching implications of the government plan. If government implements a
plan where they can call the shots, private insurers will have to follow
suit to remain competitive. Otherwise, healthy people flock to the
government plan, which is cheaper, and sick people stay on private plans,
putting private insurers out of business.

While Josh has received his heart and is doing well, this issue is still
of great concern to me. What do I do when the government or my insurer
decides that the medication that has been protecting his heart for the past
7 years is not the most cost effective? What do I do when Josh needs care to
bridge him to another surgery or another heart transplant? While I will
still have the ABILITY to make the necessary decisions, it will be cost
prohibitive if the government or the insurer chooses not to cover it.

I delivered a speech on the House floor that further outlines the issue that
can be found here .

What do you say?

Congressman Olson represents Texas’ 22nd congressional district.

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