This will all be happening in Rhode Island very soon as well.
I see the headlines — how Romney is supposedly gaining in the polls, and I want to tell people to watch this video and listen to the voice of your President, and understand that he is the only one who will keep us on a course that will sustain what we have left of the middle class.
I have mixed feelings about Whole Foods. A co-founder and former CEO, John Mackey, put corporate weight behind opposition to health care reform and unions. On the other hand, there are worse places to work, and they do what they do very well. And my schedule strands me in a wireless desert in Cranston with Whole Foods the nearest oasis.
So I’m hunched at a table eating out of a biodegradable box when I realize I’m being cruised by a guy in an electric wheelchair. Our heads are at about the same level. He’s younger than me, well dressed, his speech is slurred and his eyes a little unfocused.
“Can I ask you something?” he says.
I really want to concentrate on my food, but okay.
He goes into a rambling joke about the president, and the vice president, that I figure out is intended to be a shot at Barack Obama’s right to hold the office.
Some people might have been impressed with the man’s condition, which I guess is MS. But I’m a nurse. So I cut the guy zero slack.
“I find that offensive,” I told him.
“Well, he wants to raise our taxes and give away all our money,” he said.
I looked him right in the eye and told him I knew that the only way he could get through the day is with the help of a lot of good people. He conceded that was true. “Don’t they deserve a living wage?” I asked.
He asked how much they should get. “What’s fair,” I said. He nodded, as if he was seeing the faces of the home health aides who must be a part of his daily life.
“I know how hard you have to work to get through the day,” I said.
“Me, and my wife,” he said.
He took it all in good humor, he was smiling as he left.
There’s a good expression for the human condition –’temporarily abled’. I don’t know what misfortune robbed that man of his power, maybe some immune system misfire, or car accident. I do know that it could just as easily be me. We don’t know what the next moment might bring.
We can recognize our interdependence, and build a safety net that anyone of us might need some day. Or we can blame the poor and cry about taxes and pretend that the home health aid lacks ‘individual responsibility’ when her labor is so poorly paid that she has to use food stamps to feed her family.
A level playing field doesn’t just happen, anymore than a baseball field maintains itself. Building on solid ground, taxing fairly and investing in education, infrastructure, health care and other aspects of the public good is the American way. If we settle for a gated community as our model, subversion will come in through the servant’s entrance. No one gets through life without the help of other people.
Short interview with Sen. Whitehouse in which he extolls the virtues of Netroots Nation, appreciates the value of the Occupy Movement, and talks about his efforts to keep funding for wellness and health. He also talks about his phone conversation with President Obama following the Buffet Rule vote in the Senate, and how the fight is not over to change our tax policies to support the middle class.
By 2014, if all goes well, we should have something that resembles national health care. This may mean that millions of people who have suffered in the pool of 17.7% of Americans in the United States without health insurance, may suddenly be seeking care for everything from anxiety to obesity and beyond.
In Rhode Island, this would be a welcome relief from the recent trends in health care in terms of numbers of people with insurance. The recent trends, according to the Rhode Island Health Commissioner’s office, are that between 2005 and 2010, the number of insured people in Rhode Island dropped by 65,000. In 2005, there were about 620,000 people insured by the three big insurers, BCBSRI, United, and Tufts, and in 2010 this number had dropped to about 555,000. During that same time, there was a modest increase in the number of people receiving either Rite Care and Rite Share. If you look at the study cited below issued in January of 2011 from the Rhode Island Senate Fiscal Office, you will see that in 2009 and 2010, there was a significant amount of stimulus money that was used to cover the costs of the growing Rite Care and Rite Share programs — $35.2 million in 2009, $56.8 million in 2010, and $56.5 million in 2011.
Now, let’s give it some thought. Let’s just say Obamacare goes through. Could it be possible that part of the growing economy can be the growing health care provisions that are made for those nearly 50 million people who are newly insured? Could neighborhoods in South Providence, downtown Woonsocket, and Eden Park Cranston all begin to flourish with new health care providers serving the throngs of people flocking in for health care? Statistically, the uninsured are more likely to be obese, smokers, and drinkers, so there are plenty of preventative care issues that could be addressed with could treatment plans.
So instead of giving $75 million to Curt Schilling and betting on the idea that we need another MMOG video game on the internet where people will waste time being sedentary and eating junk food while they try to climb inane hierarchies, perhaps we should think about ways that government can promote health care businesses that will likely be in great demand in the very near future.