Political Controversy: We Are Being Tested Once Again

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I’m a political being and a news junkie. Can’t help it. It’s in my blood – literally – because both my father and grandfather (Dad’s father) were journalists, both avidly interested in politics. In fact, Grampa’s beat was Congress for Gannett Press in Washington, DC. (Reginald F. Torrey)

See? I come by it naturally.

Which is why the news of last week, the impeachment inquiry into Donald Trump’s actions, is painful to me.

Now – do NOT get me wrong.  It’s not painful because I do, or do not, disagree with it! That’s not it at all.

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Going on Offense: Who Deserves an Advocate’s Help?

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“Only rich people can afford an advocate.”

Or: “Doesn’t providing private patient advocacy services only to those who can afford them, just create one more division between the “haves” and the “have nots?”

Or: “Not everyone can afford an independent patient advocate. It’s unfair some people can’t be helped.”

Anyone who has worked in advocacy or care management has heard one or more of these statements, or at least one from the same playbook. It’s an objection meant to put us on the defensive, as if, since private advocacy can’t be provided to everyone, then we shouldn’t provide it to anyone.

Don’t let anyone put YOU on the defensive this way!  It’s a foolish argument. Here’s why:

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Coloring Outside the Lines

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When people ask you what you do for a living, what do you – as an independent health / patient advocate, or care manager — reply to them?

It would be simple to say “I am an advocate” which, then, may require further explanation. That further explanation would likely include examples of the kinds of work you do (I attend doctor appointments with seniors. Or, I manage medical bills and negotiate them when they are too high. Or I help people figure out what their own choices are for treatments… or…. )

That further explanation is always valuable, especially if the person asks you additional questions – meaning you have engaged them. And they often do!  They also tend to launch into stories on their own, beginning with “Where were you when….?” and then relate some horrible situation they or their loved one found themselves in. At that point you know they understand.

But this week, during a conversation with a gentleman who wants to jump into “our” world, I found myself telling him…

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Raise Your Dues So We Can Turn the Titanic?

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Heard on the street (and on the phone, and during and in-person conversation, and by text….)

IFs and THENs:

If [the healthcare system] was just ______, then ______ !

You’ll have your own variations to fill in there, like:

  • If healthcare was less expensive, then more people could get care!
  • If doctors would spend more time with me, then I could get my questions answered!
  • If insurance would just cover it, then my client could get the treatment she needs!
  • If there were more specialists to cover my ailment, then I wouldn’t have to wait so long for an appointment!

…. and the list goes on and on.

In the 15 years I’ve been working in patient empowerment and advocacy, I have been asked hundreds of times to work on fixing those kinds of problems. I’ve been invited to Washington, DC. I’ve been asked to sit on committees, I’ve been hired as a consultant…

However!

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What Biases Don’t YOU Recognize?

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As advocates, we all quickly become familiar with, and embrace, and share with clients, our Code of Ethics.*

Of course, there are many tenets to the code, but primary among them is the very specific statement and belief that while acting as a professional patient advocate, we will never make decisions for our clients. We work to help them make their own decisions, we respect the decisions they make, and we assist them to be sure they are carried out.

I’m sure, as you read that statement, you are nodding your head in agreement. YOU would never violate that tenet, would you?  You are 100% committed to making sure your clients are making all their own decisions, even in difficult times.

And yet…

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