WFAN—New York—March 29, 2010
In your opinion what is the most important part of the recent news of health care reform?
“[The most important part is] getting people who are losing health insurance access. The easiest way of explaining that is – as you know this from the book – most of the patients I see have a chronic illness. It's not a progressively fatal illness but illness that people deal with their entire lives. Watching people as a spouse loses a job or changes a job or as an insurance company decides to change a policy...I have people who are at first under care, then not, then have to go to different doctors. It can be devastating to someone with a chronic illness and being able to get rid of that is very important."
Speaking of the book – how did it come about?
"Ms. Brill describes herself as a social critic – she has degrees in sociology and statistics and has spent her professional life doing studies about how a population responds to certain things. She has a vocabulary that speaks to how physicians and doctors communicate. She’s been my patient for a number of years, about 30. In a conversation at the table, because she's become a personal friend, we were discussing doctor-patient conversation. My wife interrupted and said this could be the subject of a book. We wrote the book as alternate chapters of what she saw at given points of her life and what I saw at those points, and what we didn't tell each other at the time. We end up discussing a lot of things, including access of care, how others, including employers, respond to chronic illness. We also discuss what a person with an illness feels when she is not able to complete a task she's planned, that sort of thing."