Saturday, February 27, 2010

Health Care Reform

Anyone reading this regularly knows where I stand on the issue of health care reform. I've complained about my teeth long enough.

That isn't my only reason. My friends started our Angel group a few years back. It was way back at the beginning when Bill got sick the first time. They were there for us. Because of they were kind enough to help us, we got involved. I think it's been 15 years. This work is so all consuming and so necessary, I've lost track of time.

Bill didn't get sick again for several years. Then suddenly, he lost three months of work. It seemed he took sick every year after that right at Christmas time. He'd lose another month or two. After about three years of this, he was fired. I was knocked off my feet, not only with worry, but because it used to be illegal for an employer to fire an employee because of illness. From what I was told, the Family Leave Act of the '90's has made this allowable.

Bill was let go at the end of January. By that time we were far enough back on our bills, that we were days away from foreclosure. My boys just barely kept us alive with their combined salaries. We made it because our 401K came in just when we needed it the most. That lasted until just before Bill's second attempt at Disability was approved. I swear, I cleaned out our checking account in early October. I didn't have enough to buy a loaf of bread. Again, the boys were there for us. The first SS check came in November. By that time every one of our appliances were shot. The refrigerator didn't freeze anymore. I washed clothes by hand and hung them up to dry. Three burners and the broiler on my electric stove just quit operating. The water heater had to be shut off between uses because it leaked. The roof had a huge hole in it and it rained directly into the living room. We needed coats. We needed four tires. We needed everything. We needed another car. We were lucky.

While working with our Angel group, I became aware of the father of one of my children's friends. The man made a damned good living. He had just bought his family a huge house in what we call our Silk Stocking District. This is where huge, old mansions are located. They're beautiful, and his house was one of the finest. He contracted a painful, crippling condition that caused him to lose a lot of work. He lost his job. We tried to help him, although his pride wouldn't allow it. Since then he's lost his home and he is working at a minimum wage job. I don't know where he's living or how he's surviving. I wonder about the amount of pain he's in.

I can only guess that he applied for Disability once and was turned down. Let me assure everyone that it isn't easy to qualify for disability. They automatically turn down 75% of the people who apply the first time. They make it very hard for malingerers to get it.

There was a man who fell down a flight of metal stairs at the warehouse where he worked. He couldn't move. He was sent to the hospital via an ambulance. Rods where used to straighten his back so he could walk again. The workers' compensation insurance company denied his claim because they said he did it at home and not on the job. Never mind he couldn't move after it happened, no one saw him fall.

I have a cousin with MS. She learned about it after her husband had gotten a new job. Once his employer found out, they discharged him. The insurance company advised them to do it because he hadn't fulfilled the 90 day trial period every employer has after hiring. Luckily he expanded a business he ran on the side. It is very successful, although I doubt they have health care insurance with her preexisting condition.

I can't tell you how many families I've come across that has been through the same hell. Most people wind up like my friend who lost his home rather than like us.

I'm thinking about all of this because of yesterday's health care reform meeting at Admiralty House. Ed and I sat up all night to watch it from beginning to end. Yes, I'm that engaged. I honestly don't think much was accomplished. The Republicans are still saying, 'Tear up the bill and start over.' The Democrats are trying to say, 'We agree on so much.' The only thing I could see that they agreed on was that both parties will stick to their talking points. With the exception of one incident, I don't think either party gained any political capitol. I don't remember the man's name, other than to say he's a doctor and a Republican. He spoke about taking care of all his patients no matter what insurance they did or didn't have, and how he was told by his instructor in medical school to 'listen to his patients.' He made sense until someone disagreed with him. He responded by saying that those people without insurance need to get off their couch, go on a diet and quit smoking. Needless to say, that pissed me off.

My husband doesn't smoke. He has diabetes. Granted it is a condition caused by over eating and lack of exercise. It is also inherent. His mother died of it. And he was skinny and working his ass off when he first got sick.

I heard something today that pissed me off more. Senator Jim Bunning (R) of Kentucky is single handedly holding up a continuation of unemployment insurance that was due to expire on Friday. He did it when most of the members of his party were on their way to the airport. They were going home to enjoy a long weekend and wouldn't be back until Tuesday. When Mr. Bunning was told how there are Americans who will suffer without this money, he responded, "I am suffering, too. I'm missing the Kentucky/South Carolina game. And Kentucky has a chance to beat them."

Excuse me, but what are these people missing? A heart maybe? Do they have no idea what their constituents are going through? Where is their common sense? If something isn't done to correct this situation it will drag down the entire economy. As President Obama tried to explain, 4500 Americans are losing their coverage everyday. When they get sick, the former middle class are going bankrupt because the bills are so substantial. And it is not a solution to send the uninsured to hospital emergency rooms when they're ill. Who the hell do you think pays their bills?

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