Wednesday, September 30, 2009

We Brought You In and We Can Take You Out

Here’s what I don’t get. If 65 percent of the public want the public health option, then why is anyone in the Senate voting against it?

When I took Civics in the ninth grade, I learned that it was the duty of the elected official to put the interest of the public before his or her own. (In those days it was always and only “his”, but that’s another blog story.)

I was watching MSNBC last night and felt physically sick listening to Baucus and his lies. He is still insisting that people will be forced to give up their employer-sponsored health insurance in favor of the government plan. No. No. No. How many times does this have to be said? Is this man devious, or merely stupid? In any case, he should be voting the way the people want him to vote, not the way he wants. That is not how it is supposed to work.

Yet it does, time and time and time again.


Lobbying, for one thing. And why does that exist? Why isn’t it illegal? Does it seem even remotely right to you? And why is it that it is illegal for an insurance company to contribute to the campaign of a state’s insurance commissioner, yet the big companies can give money to senators and congressmen? Everyone of us should be outraged that any elected person can take money from the big corporations. Payola is illegal. Prostitution, except in Nevada, is illegal. And this exactly the same thing. Why do we all turn a blind eye to this moral and outrage? I have more respect for prostitutes.
I voted for Tom Carper. Tom has known me and my family for over 25 years. We met when he lived in a small apartment across the hall from one of my brothers. First name basis. When I phoned his office regarding the public option and left a message with a drone, I actually expected a call back. Cobra had cancelled me and I wanted and needed Tom’s help., desperately. He basically turned it over to an office worker, then sent me a form letter saying “sorry it didn’t work for you”. It was terribly disappointing. A few weeks later, I wrote to Tom concerning the public option, and told him about my situation. It was very similar to the letter I wrote for the, and I expected not only a response, but a personal one. I received a form letter e-mail, explaining that he was backing Baucus and what a terrific plan it was.

Tom, as most of us saw last night, ended up voting no on the public option. Then he waffled and voted for Sen. Charles Schumer’s plan. It was better than voting for Baucus, but not enough to save his reputation in my eyes. He sold us out. When is the last time Tom Carper had to decide between buying a coat for the winter, paying the electric bill, or going to a sliding-scale clinic? (Since the Medicaid guidelines are so incredibly unrealistic, anyone making over $900.00 a month would be going to a sliding scale type of pay. That means a person making $900.01 a month would be paying $108.00 for a Boniva pill, for example. A pill, by the way, that lasts exactly one month. And this is a type of medication one needs to be on for the rest of one’s life. Do you think Tom’s wife worries about this kind of thing?)

It was enough for me to not vote for him in the next election. Which is what I believe we all should do, regardless of party affiliation, when it comes to all of our senators. If they prove that they do not have our interests at heart, that they put their own concerns above that of the constituents, if they can be bought by big pharma and other large corporations, then they need to go.

We brought them in and we can take them out by not voting for them in the next election.

Maybe after that happens enough times, we can get back to the way it’s supposed to be.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Why Don’t We Just Call A Spade a Spade?

The other night I was watching CNBC as a reporter interviewed a man from Oklahoma about the 9/12 March. It is bad enough that every one of these people, congressmen and senators included, are committing treason. They are stupidly proud of it. They wash over their hatred, bigotry, and violence with a veneer of “patriot”. One of my great- great - great etc grandfathers was in the Sons of Liberty, so I come by my rebelliousness honestly, and I also know what a real patriot is. It ain’t these guys.

My mouth literally dropped open when I heard this man tell the reporter that “everyone in this country has health insurance”. Oh really? Then why was my brother turned away from a hospital when they found out he was not insured? (This after suffering an electrical shock.) This idiot then went on to say “all you have to do is go to an emergency room and you will see all these people tying things up for hours because they have a stubbed toe.” From there he stated “They all get taken care of, so, see? Everyone has health insurance in this country.” The 9/12-ers actually believe this. That is frightening. It should alarm and anger everyone who hears it.

More people were interviewed. A woman raging about how this country is turning into a socialist and Marxist government. Her equally ill-informed husband spewing vitriol about how the government needs to stay out of our health insurance, how we do not need any government programs of any kind. And for this, they are marching on Washington. That is their right. But it is pathetic, since they do not know what they are talking about. If they had the facts straight, I wouldn’t be so disgusted.

But back to the man from Oklahoma. Maybe because the reporter was African-American, he let this next one drop: “We want the country to go back to the way it was 100 years ago.” Need I remind you that 100 years ago, there was segregation, discrimination of the sort that makes telling someone to sit at the back of the bus look like a child’s tea party by comparison? I remember the Freedom Riders, the killing of Medgar Evers, the classified sections in the paper categorized by sex, age, and race. As I said in a previous writing, going back to the way it was means no vote for women, housing discrimination, job discrimination, no social security, no Medicare. And it means no black president.

Why don’t they at least have the honesty to say what they really mean? The only thing separating these clowns from the KKK are the satin hoods. It makes me feel physically sick to hear them ranting and raving and hiding behind the mask of patriotism, when in fact, they are nothing more than red-neck bigots. How can this be happening in 2009? I thought we were better than that.

The majority of us are. I remember Election Night, and the chills I got watching all those people running through the field, joyously celebrating as history was being made. I get chills as I write this. My fiancé’ and I cried, we were so happy. Earlier that evening, my siblings and I had met at one brother’s house, to be there for each other. And we were not alone. Remember, please, how very many people voted for our President.

The 9/12-ers keep whooping and hollering about wanting “their country” back. Well, Jim-Bob, it’s my country, too! For too many years, those of us who wanted real change, who wanted our voices heard and not stifled, have had to sit on the sidelines. You wanna talk about trampling the Constitution? Let’s talk about George Bush and The Patriot Act. How come that never gets mentioned? How come the Supreme Court was allowed to pick the President when the election was stolen from Al Gore? Why didn’t you care then?

It’s my country, too. And the country of those of us who voted for Barack Obama. There are more of us than there are of you.

Change is inevitable, Jim-Bob. If a black president is too much for you to bear, then grow a pair and say so. Don’t hide behind the Constitution; don’t hide behind words like “patriot”. Admit what you are. And the next time you feel compelled to march on Washington, please get your facts straight. It only makes you look more idiotic and ignorant than you already are.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Liar Liar

In the past several weeks, I have watched and listened to representatives, congressmen, senators – all of them Republicans – lie to their constituents about Obama’s “secret agenda”. I always wonder how this is allowed to continue.

Shouldn’t the people we elect tell the truth? Shouldn’t we be able to trust them to tell us what is being put on the table so we can decide for ourselves? How is it that the Grassleys, the Malkins, ad nauseum can tell such blatant lies, lies that reveal who among us has the true secret agenda.
They incite the public with stories about death panels, about the government somehow taking over our health care and picking our doctors for us. Of course this is not true. The latest one? That our president is actually “indoctrinating” the school children today. I watched one numbskull being interviewed on the local news who said she was against abortion and against gay marriage and did not want the president forcing his views on her children.


Another lie brought to you by the Republican party.

The president’s agenda is to impress upon our children the importance of studying, doing the best that they can and taking that into the community, into the country. Yet, once again, the Republicans are determined to undermine everything this man is attempting to do for our own good, because they are such sore losers and because the hatred they have for all things Democrat goes so deep that they would see the rest of us in harm’s way rather than allow our president and/or the Democratic party to succeed.

Why more people aren’t outraged is beyond my comprehension. It’s one thing to lie to get yourself elected. It happens all the time. Ideally, these people usually don’t last long in office. It is quite another thing to lie to your constituents about the issues and how they are being handled. It is self-serving. It is wrong. It should be stopped. It must stop. Now.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Will the Real Death Panel Please Stand Up?

I think it all started with Sarah Palin. She who apparently has only a nodding acquaintance with the facts, told a crowd about “death panels” who would decide the fate of the elderly, the gravely ill, the mentally challenged, the handicapped. Should the Public Option go through, this is what we would all be facing. The “end of life” counseling, in Sarah’s tiny little brain, equates to this: death panels. Never mind that end of life counseling simply means that one has doctors outlining one’s options, which one then chooses (or not) to act upon. Never mind that almost everyone these days knows what a “living will” is and how it works. (If you do not know, then call a lawyer and ask them to explain this to you.) She preyed upon the ignorant, the naïve, and the just plain unintelligent. She worked the mob mentality.

Republicans across the country jumped on the death panel bandwagon. Never mind that they knew full well what the facts are. They lied to the public in order to rally support for their own agenda. What might that agenda be? To screw up the administration and specifically our President at every opportunity. To keep the Democrats from succeeding at passing “their” bill because they are that angry that they did not win. To balk everything and anything this man wants to do, and anything the Democratic party wants to do merely because they are Democrats. They do not give sweet f*** all if people go bankrupt trying to pay medical bills. They don’t care if you die. In fact, thousands if not millions of people will in effect be handed a death sentence if this bill does not pass. Why? Because there is no insurance for them.
There are people who do not meet the guidelines for Medicaid. And these guidelines are so unrealistic as to be laughable, if they weren’t infuriating. Cobra, if one can afford it, only lasts 6 months, and if you miss a payment or a check bounces (which is all too likely when you are unemployed), they will not redeposit the check and you are not reinstated. Private health insurance? You’re joking, right? Call Blue Cross Blue Shield and ask what their private rates are. After you pick yourself up off the floor, tell me what they quoted.

The real “death panel” is the Republican Party. I find it difficult to believe that any of these Representatives or Senators can honestly be so stupid that they believe what they are telling people. The agenda is to stop the Democrats, to oppose them just for the sake of it. If this means that people die because they do not have health coverage, then oh, well…They know that the Government is not going to tell us what doctor to see. This is ironic, as anyone “lucky” enough to have medical benefits will tell you that the insurance companies DO however, dictate who you can and cannot see. These same insurance companies are sending actors and morally bereft goons to town hall meetings to disrupt the proceeding and spread even more fear and hate. They have the blessing of the Republican Party.

Why would anyone oppose a bill that helps everyone? A bill that makes it easier to get quality care, to pay the bills resulting from that care, to stop price-gouging, “pre-existing conditions” clauses? Obviously, you would oppose this is if it meant you were somehow in someway going to feel the end result in your own wallet. That is not you or me I’m talking about: it is the CEO’s of the insurance companies. That is why they send their paid thugs. And since it helps the Republican agenda, the Republicans are only too happy to have them.

Look at how Michael Steele conducted himself recently, telling one woman that her all-too-real story of desperately needing health care “makes great television”, never even acknowledging the woman’s pain. Observe the pig-ignorant cretin at the Elmer, New Jersey meeting, complaining that a woman in a wheelchair “apparently has more rights than me” (by the way, that phrase would be “more rights than I”, moron). This woman was also booed and heckled by the several idiots who apparently buy everything the Republicans spoon feed them, without checking for themselves. Listen to the representative who told Elizabeth Smith that she should “grow up and buy insurance” when Elizabeth just told her that she was a single mother working as a waitress and who needed the public option for herself and her child. It is loathsome behavior. It is also very deeply disturbing.

And there is your death panel: the Republican Party.

A Band-Aid for Medicaid

In the State of Delaware, one does not qualify for Medicaid if one makes more than $8.00 an hour. That means that anyone making $15,360.00 per year, gross income (not net) gets nothing from the state to help with any medical care.

It is 2009. Perhaps in 1989, this would have been an acceptable amount. The cost of gas, utilities, and groceries have skyrocketed, while the Medicaid guidelines stayed firmly rooted in a decade long past.

I suggest that we get a few senators and congressmen to volunteer to live on $8.10 an hour for one year. They can either take this as their salary, or they can get a job in retail, or fast-food. During this year, all of their assets will be frozen. In other words, they cannot dip into savings, CD’s, IRA’s, trust funds, or any other money that may be put away for security. They must give up their current vehicle, and take instead, a 15 year old car. They are not allowed access to any of their credit cards. They may, however, have a debit card from their new checking account which now has $150.00, and should feel free to apply for a new credit card with their new salary. Also, any previous checking accounts cannot be accessed.

This is the base from which they will conduct their lives for one year. During this year they are not allowed to live in their present homes. They must, somehow, find a place to live, get insurance and repairs for the car, money for food and utilities. (They will get whatever food stamp money they would have received had they been single, if they are married.) Since they will not qualify for Medicaid, they will pay upfront and in full, if they get any require medical services of any kind.

They can similarly try to get any dental work done during this time. Since no dentist will send a bill, and insists upon full payment at the time of service, this should be enlightening to those who have never had to think twice about it. Which brings me to a point about Medicaid that has puzzled me for years: why isn’t dental care offered as part of the deal? If you have ever had a filling fall out, or have had an abscessed tooth, you know the pain involved. It can be excruciating; it can bring you to tears. And any health professional will tell you that it is a dangerous situation when a filling falls out and stays out, or when a decayed tooth gets no attention as bacteria is going into your bloodstream. It can affect your heart. It requires attention.

Should the need arise, they can visit their local drugstore or Wal-Mart to pick out glasses, since Medicaid does not offer vision care. And why doesn’t it? If you have ever witnessed a friend or relative trying to make-do with over-the counter reading glasses when what was needed was an actual prescription for near-sightedness or far-sightedness, you will know how ludicrous this suggestion is. The senator or congressman will finally get to see (no pun intended) first-hand how difficult it is to read a book, a street sign, to drive. They will probably have a headache every day from the eye-strain. That shouldn’t be so bad: generic aspirin doesn’t cost that much. Hope you’re not allergic to aspirin.

This is what I propose for our law-makers, our senators, our congressmen: live for a year in my shoes. Live for a year in the shoes of the people who do not qualify for Medicaid because they are one penny over the guidelines. If indeed you can afford to buy a new pair of shoes on your new salary, then come back and tell me what the new guidelines are for Medicaid. Then tell me that it includes dental and vision care.

The public option and me

I have both sarcoidosis and a skin cancer that has to be removed. There is no way that I can do my follow up x rays, and no way that I can afford Boniva to offset the effects of the Prednisone, nor can I have the surgery to remove the cancer. The reason? My Cobra coverage through my former employer was cancelled due to a returned check. When I contacted Ceridian/Cobra/BCBS to explain to them what was happening and request that they redeposit the check, they assured me that there would be no problem. One week later, I was cancelled and told that due to a “federal rule”, they could not redeposit my check, nor do they take debit cards or credit cards, but I was “welcome to get my own Blue Cross Blue Shield coverage, privately”. Oh, really? With what? My unemployment check? Because the guidelines for Medicaid are so antiquated and out of step with the times, I do not qualify for that program. I make too much on unemployment.

My doctor says I cannot wait to have the surgery on my nose, to remove the basal cell carcinoma. Due to the sarcoidosis, I require follow up medical treatment in the form of follow up visits, blood-work, x-rays, and medication. I am still on steroids which leave me vulnerable to a host of infections. I cannot afford my medication. Steroids make it necessary for me to take Boniva, to offset osteoporosis, (a side effect of steroids) and that one pill a month costs $60.00 I can afford to pay for none of these things now.

Even when I had coverage, my deductible was $1200.00. And I had to pay a large piece of my salary for this (Several of my former co-workers took no coverage as they could not afford it and pay their mortgages.). As usual, there were the fights over the “pre-existing condition”. And, if I could afford BCBS privately, that would still be the case. They would refuse the removal of the cancerous tissue, as well as the x-rays, blood-work, etc. for the sarcoidosis. I have to ask this question: isn’t EVERYTHING a pre-existing condition, or else you would not be at the doctor’s office in the first place?

We need the public option. I cannot stress this enough. The Republicans who oppose this bill with their lies and fear-mongering ought to be taken out of office, as they do not serve the people, only themselves. They do not have your best interest at heart. They want to keep the power at any cost, even if that cost includes human lives. If by some chance, they aren't lying, then they are simply too stupid to serve. In fact, someone should drive them home, as they probably do not possess the intelligence to operate a motor vehicle.

There are no "death panels". Read the bill. If you are not intelligent enough to understand that you are being offered counseling to help you make a choice should that need arise, then get someone smarter to read it to you and explain it.

The word "option" means "choice". You have a choice to either stay with the insurance you currently have, or choose a new one. The government is not picking it for you.
To those of you who argue, ineffectively, that the government needs to stay out of your life, and should not be involved in your medical program, I have to ask you: what do you think Medicare is? Does this mean you do not want this program for yourselves when the time comes, or that you do not want it for your elderly parents, grandparents?

To the people who want to “go back to the Constitution as it was written by our forefathers, I have to ask: you don’t want Social Security? Women: you don’t want to vote?

To the Republican congressman who suggested that "neighbors will help neighbors", I have to ask: how? In what way? Is my neighbor going to perform the surgery on my nose? Is the guy across the street going to give me an x-ray? Does someone in my neighborhood manufacture Prednisone or Boniva? Will they trade that for tomatoes from my garden? IS THIS MAN COMPLETELY OUT OF TOUCH? Oh, I just answered my own question.

I know that this form of health care is long overdue, having witnessed my dying father in tears over bills that were not being paid, and coverage that was being refused, having had to pay enormous amounts myself because some accountant with no knowledge whatsoever of health care, medicine, or my body decided we had gone over the "usual and customary". HOW DARE YOU! I believe that my doctor knows better than a CEO any day of the week, what kind of care I need. The CEO's of these companies never have to worry about paying medical bills. Neither do the senators and congresspeople opposing this bill – they have the best health care available at an exceedingly affordable rate.

My story is not the only one like this. There are thousands of us struggling to pay rent, mortgage, and medical bills. We are not "living beyond our means". How much further down would you have me go? I live in a mobile home community. Not a townhouse, not a luxury apartment. We are trying to survive. Without a public health care option, it is an impossible situation.

Elizabeth Sutor