When health care is personal … and political

Mitt and Ann Romney might ponder why both the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society supported the very health reforms Mr. Romney pledges to repeal.

I like Ann Romney. She strikes me as a charming, dignified, and tough advocate for her husband’s campaign. On Thursday, she appeared on Entertainment Tonight to discuss her experiences as a breast cancer survivor and her challenges arising from multiple sclerosis.

Mr. and Mrs. Romney might ponder why both the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society welcomed the passage of health reform.

The Romneys might also ponder why so many people whose lives have been altered by chronic disease and disability become passionate supporters of health reform. Some have directly experienced medical- economic hardship. Others have not faced the most punishing financial consequences. They merely see what happens to others, less-privileged, who face the same medical challenges with fewer resources.

Like Michael Tomasky, I’m dismayed that Mr. Romney chose a different course. Anyone who’s sat in those hospital waiting rooms with a very sick loved-one should know better.

Anyway, more by me here over at healthinsurance.org.

Author: Harold Pollack

Harold Pollack is Helen Ross Professor of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago. He has served on three expert committees of the National Academies of Science. His recent research appears in such journals as Addiction, Journal of the American Medical Association, and American Journal of Public Health. He writes regularly on HIV prevention, crime and drug policy, health reform, and disability policy for American Prospect, tnr.com, and other news outlets. His essay, "Lessons from an Emergency Room Nightmare" was selected for the collection The Best American Medical Writing, 2009. He recently participated, with zero critical acclaim, in the University of Chicago's annual Latke-Hamentaschen debate.

9 thoughts on “When health care is personal … and political”

  1. I think it’s pretty simple. The Romneys are very, very rich. All their friends and most of their supporters are, too. The current system works well for the very, very rich. End of story.

  2. I don’t think Mrs. Romney has ever thought about what it would be like to be broke and sick. She famously told an interviewer years ago that she understood the struggles of impoverished people because when she and Mitt were students ad newly married they had to sell some stock. Since she knows what it feels like to confront mortality, as a mother with kids who need her, she should have instantly thought about people who can’t afford any treatment, let alone the Cadillac health care that she was getting.

    1. If you can’t afford treatment for your cancer, just borrow money from your parents to pay for it.

      1. Or (and I’ll know that this Builds Character) sell a dressage horse.

        Not your favorite, of course – no need to be barbaric!

    2. Yes, both she and her husband give me that “let them eat cake” vibe [1]. I don’t think they are intentionally mean, it’s just that they genuinely don’t get what it means to be poor. It’s nothing that they seem to be able to relate to. I’m not really willing to give them a free pass on that — there are plenty of affluent people who have a good understanding of what poverty means. Charm and dignity don’t buy you much when you don’t understand policy implications.

      [1] I know that the Marie-Antoinette story is apocryphal. It’s still a good shorthand for the underlying concept.

  3. “I like Ann Romney. She strikes me as a charming, dignified, and tough advocate for her husband’s campaign.”

    This is the same Ann Romney who gleefully took part in that whole transparently bullshit “Obama’s War on Moms” thing, right?

    Yeah, no – she’s an asshole.

  4. I had breast cancer when my child was twelve. This was before the Family Medical Leave Act. Luckily, my husband had good health insurance, but was not able to take time off from work during the chemo sessions.
    The Democratic Congress had passed the Family Medical Leave Act three times and the bill was vetoed twice by Reagan and once by Bush I. We worked very hard for the election of Bill Clinton. The Family Medical
    Leave Act was the first bill he signed as President. I don’t care about the Romney money. I want to know if Ann Romney supports the Family Medical Leave Act. I want to know if Mitt Romney supports the Family Medical Leave Act.

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