Tag Archives: Affordable Care Act

Mary Beck, Trig Palin and God’s Agents on Earth

Today my Facebook has a post from the tireless blogger, Pam Spaulding of Pam’s House Blend. MSNBC host, Professor Melissa Harris-Perry is getting flamed for pointing out the obvious truth that citizens bear a collective responsibility for the welfare of our children. Even if they are not our own family, we don’t tell them to go play in traffic. Well, maybe the grouchy guy who listens to Rush Limbaugh does, but we don’t call him an expert.

I replied to Pam–
Rush Limbaugh is childless despite 4 marriages. Glenn Beck has a daughter, Mary, with a disability. Maybe he never took any state or federal benefits and had the means to afford all she needed, but if the wealth ever runs out over the course of her life and she needs medical or social security it will be the community that steps up. The same goes for Trig Palin. Are these activists so sure their own children will never need the safety net they are set on tearing apart?

In honor of the gummint entitlements that make possible benefits such as Meeting Street School, Hasbro Children’s Hospital and public education for all children regardless of their medical condition, I’m re-running this post from 2009…

Recently I got an email from Jim Wallis at Sojourners, a progressive Christian organization.

Glenn Beck has received a lot of attention for his inflammatory rhetoric lately. Recently, he shared a personal story about his daughter who has cerebral palsy, which gets to the heart of his fears about health-care reform:

They [the government] will say exactly what doctors said about my 21-year-old daughter: “She may not really have a quality of life. She may not walk or talk or feed herself. But then again miracles happen.” The “then again, miracles happen” part of that will be left out of the conversation. And I will not be able to see my daughter’s 21st birthday, where I can reflect with her how miracles do happen. Because really, as I was told at the beginning of her life: Well, what kind of quality of life is she going to really have? I don’t know, but that’s for God to decide, not the government. -The Glenn Beck Program, 8/6/2009

I hope everything is well with Glenn Beck’s daughter, Mary, and I can’t argue with faith. I can understand the Beck family praying for a miracle, and I hope it was granted. But in the world of meeting material needs, petitioning God directly doesn’t usually produce a check out of thin air. For that, Glenn Beck would petition his insurance company.

He has faith that the insurance company will be there for him. And that is fortunate. Because if he discovered in his time of need that the insurance he chose wasn’t adequate, he’d have a very tough time getting a new insurance policy for his family, with a newborn needing medical care. If his insurance company stalled on paying, who would he look to? The law, and the government.

So the question is not ‘who will you trust, God or the Government?’– the question is how much you trust your insurance company. Because when you or your family have a serious health problem you will be in no shape to go shopping on the free market.

God helps those who help themselves, they say, and maybe God blesses us when we help each other. I don’t know how long private insurance covers a child with cerebral palsy, but there are Government programs to help people with disabilities. It’s possible that Mary is benefiting from one of these programs. They exist because private insurance was not willing to meet the need, so a public option was created.

God loves us all, but insurance companies have to collect more money than they disburse, and they maximize profits by denying care. They don’t get into philosophical arguments about quality of life, they just refuse to pay the bills. Then you have to appeal to the Government. So it’s in our best interests to keep our Government strong and regulate our insurance providers, so that they have to uphold a standard of care.

Glenn Beck has faith in God, but who are God’s agents? Blue Cross, Tenet and Cigna? It’s not a debate about God vs Government– it’s how much you trust private insurance. If your trust is not blind, you’ll want the Government on your side.

UPDATE: The passage of the Affordable Care Act, nicknamed ‘Obamacare’, provides protection for people with disabilities, like Mary Beck, who cannot now be denied insurance due to a pre-existing condition. As wealthy as her family is, she most likely will need the support of a government program, such as Medicare D, at some point in her life. Health care reform is beginning to change the focus of private insurance from paying for procedures to maintaining wellness. Ordinary working Americans cannot meet all the needs of a child with a disability without government assistance. I’m skeptical that even the Becks, with their millions, are immune from the contingencies we all face.

Defending President Obama in the Whole Foods

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.

Professional Opinion

Professor John E. McDonough, of the Harvard School of Public Health is interviewed on Medscape, a news site for health professionals. He warns that if politics derails the Affordable Care Act we will be back to square one…

Medscape: Why is this legislation a win for physicians and patients?

Dr. McDonough: This law is already providing real meaningful benefits to millions of Americans in improving health security, and it will make profound lifesaving differences for many millions of other Americans in the coming years. If it had been overturned completely, it would have been many years before we could return to and address our badly dysfunctional healthcare system. This ruling keeps reform on track; it allows for improvement moving forward.

Read the rest here, it’s brief but says a lot.

That’s the vibe I picked up at the Dept of Health. Improving quality, extending health care to all Rhode Islanders, keeping costs down and combating waste and fraud are works in progress. To abandon this would be more than heartbreaking, it would be a crime.

Keeping it Real

Susan Gardner at Daily Kos shares her family story…

Several Sundays ago, I chronicled my then-22-year-old daughter’s adventure in open heart surgery, all thanks to Obamacare, which allowed her to remain on my insurance. The bottom line: We were terrified the young adult provision would be overturned.

The young adult provision is a win-win for parents and insurance companies, who get a cohort of the young and usually healthy. But for families like Susan’s, this is a lifesaver.

Obamacare– what’s in it for us?

My sense of why the Affordable Care Act failed to inspire the majority of the public is this–
America is hungry for a sane, decent health care system.
The Democrats say to America, “Here’s a nice plate of Spam. It’s a nutritious mix of things kind of mushed together into something you can eat.”
America says, “Yuck.”

The Republicans say, “Here’s a nice plate of smashed light bulbs. They’re the incandescent kind, that Grandma used. Eat up, it builds character. What? You can’t eat broken glass? Then here’s a big plate of nothing– you free-market dropout!”

We’d all rather have steak. I’d rather have a single-payer health care system yesterday, but the Affordable Care Act is a huge step forward toward building a real, sane and adequate health care system that protects Americans from financial ruin if they have accident or illness, and rewards doctors for helping their patients stay healthy. Incidentally– making it harder to profiteer off other people’s misfortune.

The Affordable Care Act requires insurance companies to keep administrative costs down and put the premiums into health services.

I was out with Mr.Green at Hope St. Pizza tonight and heard a bunch of guys at the next table talking about the Supremes. One of them was a nurse. I called out to them and did the fist pump and we all cheered.

My Mom listens to crazy radio. I’m waiting to hear her take on this. The ACA has benefits for people on Medicare that will save her from some co-pays and medication expenses. But she’ll tell me it’s a bad thing. Because Death Panels.

My sister-in-law is wondering if there’s going to be part-time Death Panel positions open. She’s a teacher, uses the Glare of Death to cow her students and has some time to pick up a summer job.

I am hugely relieved that we are not back to square one. My family benefits from the provision of the ACA that lets young adults stay on their parent’s insurance. I have been at meetings at the Department of Health where a blueprint for insuring all Rhode Islanders is being drawn up, and the ACA is crucial. It’s way better to be sitting comfortably inside our beautiful Statehouse, than to be standing out on the lawn waving a sign. I’ve done enough of that the past three years. I wish Dave St.Germain were alive to see this day.

Mother Jones has a list of ten things you get now that Obamacare is upheld…

1) Insurance companies can no longer impose lifetime coverage limits on your insurance. Never again will you face the risk of getting really sick and then, a few months in, having your insurer tell you, “Sorry, you’ve ‘run out’ of coverage.” Almost everyone I’ve met knows someone who had insurance but got really, really sick (or had a kid get really sick) and ran into a lifetime cap.

See the other nine here.

You’ll say, “Well, duh. Any reasonable society would take these things for granted.”

But we came within a whisker of never getting the ACA passed in Congress, and the Supremes passed it in a 5-4. This is a day in History.

[the writer means no disrespect to Spam, or any of Hormel's fine canned meat products.]

Waiting on the Supremes

The sense I got at various Dept of Health meetings is that the stakes are very high. A lawyer who specializes in health care said that this will be the biggest decision since Brown v. Board of Education, the decision that mandated access to public school for all America’s children. There are people who dedicate their career to making health care available to all. A few months ago they could not imagine the Affordable Care Act being undone, but today anything is possible.

The crisis will eventually force reform. Crowded emergency rooms, exploding costs and preventable suffering and death are today’s reality. Patients are not consumers, health care is a public need and good– not a venue for profit.

However this plays out, we will not give up. The life you save may be your own. I’m off to work another day in health care, hearing and seeing firsthand the consequences of our fractured ‘system’ and trying to make it work.

Emergency Room Full Up

NYCEVE at Daily Kos posts an early warning on the consequences of the Supremes striking down health care reform.

Last night the internets were saying Judge Ginsburg sent a signal that there will be a 5/4 decision later this month, and it doesn’t look good. Today it remains unclear.

The Affordable Care Act, though flawed and partial, directly benefits my family. My young adult, my elderly mother, are protected by provisions in the law that extend family insurance and expand Medicare benefits to preventive care. The crazy idea that health care is a consumer item, like a car, only holds up in the abstract. The crazy idea that we can triage out part of our society without damaging all is falling apart in our current epidemic. How many people do you know with diabetes? Are they supposed to die quietly?

Dark thoughts on a Monday morning. Now I’m off to work in health care.

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