Thursday, January 21, 2010

Head in the sand or heart in the throat

This headline in The New York Times got me going, especially the part about "leaving universal coverage off his list of core goals." So did the election results in Massachusetts.

Conventional wisdom says that a lot of people in this country don't have health insurance or are underinsured--because they've lost their jobs (a lot of people have been losing their jobs) or because they have pre-existing conditions, or because their health insurance doesn't cover the care that they need.

It sickens me. What are those numbers? More important, where are those people? Why do they not have a voice, a LOUD VOICE in this national conversation? How can we help give them a voice?

Right now, one side seems to be doing all the talking, with volume. The people most in need aren't getting heard on a national platform, which leads me to this sense of the surreal or the unreal.

I can accuse "the other side" of using emotions instead of facts, but I'm pretty damn emotional about this issue, too.

I feel very fortunate that I do have health care, because more and more of this entire process is making me feel like my blood pressure is shooting up. I don't think it really is. But it feels that way. It feels like my heart is in my throat.

And when I feel that way, my first desire is to stop feeling that way. To close my eyes, stick my head in the sand, and hope that it will all work itself out and go away.

That isn't happening. Instead, one or two people in our Congress get to decide the fate of us, the people.

What can we do? We can send money, but I'd rather send my money to Haiti, and I did. We can call our representatives and senators. We can try to find a way to give a voice to those people who most need health care that isn't tied to a job, a voice to people who are self-employed. I'm probably forgetting a lot of people here. Feel free to add them.

Could social media help? Could someone start a Facebook group for people who don't have insurance and see how quickly the group grew? It's just an idea. Has someone done this already--and if so, how do we shine a spotlight on it?

If you have other ideas, I'd love to hear them. I'd love for the whole country to hear them.

Thank you, so much, for listening. And feel free to forward this to anyone who might have a good idea.




Cornelius Butterfield said...

Preamble to the Constitution...'Promote the general welfare...' If our enemies can kill us, we send the military. But cancer can also kill us. Where is the response? The Government should protect us the same way. Universal Medicare should be part of the Ninth Amendment. A right. Like having an army of doctors to defend us, to fight for our welfare.

Michael said...


I too have been feeling sickened by the political climate that has been unfolding and certainly intensified since the Tuesday special election in Massachusetts. One of the sad aspects of the outcome of this election is that the people in Massachusetts already have a superior health delivery system other states, so when their Senator-elect says he will be the 41st vote again health care reform, there’s a real irony.
I have decent health coverage, yet I have been an advocate for reform for three basic reasons.

1. I believe access to health care is a fundamental right, not something that reserved to an elite few based upon social status.

2. Individuals who have existing health issues should not be excluded from having access to care and treatment.

3. Even with my reasonable plan, the increasing costs of health care have well outpaced the growth of any other sector of our economy for several years now. Health care is costing more for less service. Double digit annual increased mean even those of us who have coverage face time in the not too distant future where even we will not be able to afford the costs. The system people are clinging to is broken.

I’ve come to think that this country is negatively impacted more by the necessity to obtain 61 votes in the senate on such issues than any other single factor. If we were able to pass something with 51 votes, there would likely be more bipartisan support developing because everyone would come to the table and hash out their positions because something would ultimately become a reality and the Republicans would not just sit on their ass knowing this. There is no incentive for thoughtful debate because with 41 votes they can ignore this or any of a host of other issues.

This afternoon the people of this country received more bad news. The Supreme Court struck down post a variety of Watergate campaign finance reforms and said, Banks, Insurance Companies, Oil Companies, Investment Companies, you name it, they can now play in campaigns with whatever amounts of money they wish to spend because 5 of the most conservative justices on this court decided Corporations have first amendment rights to political speech (via money).

We’ve seen insane amounts of money used via lobbyists to influence government. Now they can just flat out buy federal elections.

Today I truly feel the same frustrations that you have expressed. Americans right now seem to be more tuned into fear than anything else. Some of it is understandable, but a lot of it based on ignorance and intentional misinformation.

T. Clear said...

I asked this question at work this week: Why are we not out in the streets protesting?

And the answer: Because we're too busy trying to make a living, to just get by.

My family does not enjoy the blessing of employer-subsidized health insurance. And as the owner of a private insurance policy, one often opts for lower rates, which becomes a gamble, which ultimately results in exorbitant personal dollars spent paying for what one's policy doesn't cover. This number is going to be shocking -- it stuns me whenever I try to come to grips with it -- but at the moment, for a family of five, we pay nearly $3k per month on health-related expenses.

My husband, who has for some years enjoyed the luxury of early retirement, is now scrambling to get a job.

My son suggests that everyone in Congress go w/o coverage until they come up with a resolution to the mess we're in.

Joannie said...

Cornelius--Yes (maybe a legion of doctors?)

Michael--Yes, yes, yes.

T.--That is a shocking number. And I'm with your son: Any member of congress who doesn't support a public option should cancel his or her (very nice) government-supplied insurance as well as his or her Medicare.