Prescriptions



Lieberman: I Won’t Vote for a Health Care Reform Bill with Medicare Buy-In, Public Option

copyright © 2009 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

On the eve of what was thought to be, perhaps, a sign of progress in the six-decade long health care reform debate, joblessness mounts.  Depression increases.  The intensity of illness is on the rise.  Few if any can afford to visit a doctor.  People are unemployed, under-employed, and if an individual has an income, hours are reduced.  There is barely enough to pay the most basic bills. let alone insurance premiums.  Yet, staffers have been asked, no told, by business owners, workers must pay a larger portion of their health care coverage.  Bosses bellow in unison; with profits down, certainly the corporations cannot continue to offer perks.  Medical indemnities are a privilege, not a guarantee.  If you feel ill, if you are injured, take two pills and call no one in the morning.  

Do not dare telephone the Democrats.   They have made their peace with the health care crisis. Republicans will not respond to the cries of a public, and Independents are, as you know independent! The decree; health care reform was dead on arrival.

Each of these bodies assures the American people.  A prescription for the cost of exceedingly high health care in America, well essentially, there is none.  Any cure will be but a compromise.  That is the way Congress works.   Representative are comfortably covered.  Senators are too.   The American people can suffer, and they do.

Universal Single Payer, Not for Profit programs as an idea was scrapped before it ever reached the Halls of Congress.  The possibility of a Public Health Insurance Option?  Tea Party protesters, who were persuaded by advertisements bought and paid for by Pharmaceutical companies, Insurers, and an Ex-Chief Executive Hospital  Entrepreneur eliminated any hope for that opportunity.  

Should the poor, the poorly covered, or the persons who cannot possibly pay for policies become sick, magnate, underwriters, and makers of medicines will worry not.  Illness and accidental injury will add to their shared incomes.  Drug manufacturers, those who assess risks, and moguls will all be fine.  Each will be financially made more comfortable if nothing changes.  Senator Joseph Liebermann, Independent, [in name only] “Democrat,” from Connecticut will also be firmly fixed if prospects for reform are dashed.

For less than a week, there was chance, the slightest potential, that the ever-popular Medicare program  would be  expanded.  While Medicare For All was another unfulfilled dream, swiftly dropped from the Congressional debate, it was proposed that the program as it exists today, could be enhanced.  The thought was persons ages 55 through 64 could begin to collect benefits if only the Democrats and Republicans agreed to this compromise.  That would help twelve percent of Americans who are without health insurance.  That amounts to 4.3 million people, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Yet, as of late, Monday, December 14, 2009, the word was that Medicare Buy In Plans may also be dashed.  Senator Lieberman would see to that.  On the weekend, the Connecticut independent Democrat, indicated he would not vote for it.  Tonight, a closed-door meeting was held, or perchance, the “Progressive” Party was held hostage from within the Chamber.  

Mister Lieberman understands that the majority  cannot move without his support.  The American people will not procure a health care reform Bill unless Joe votes for, rather than against any proposal.  

Some consider what might have motivated the Senator.  Granted, Connecticut has the highest U.S. concentration of insurance jobs.  However, the Senator pledges, this, and ample contributions from these corporations, do not play a role in his decision.  Lieberman says, he is concerned solely for the citizens of this country.

Regardless of what is true for the Connecticut Senator, the expansion of Medicate depends on him.  Hence, the Democrats relent.  Those who most desire a radical transformation have resigned themselves to the reality, without Joe, resolutions are a “no go.”

As he exited the Monday evening meeting, Senator Evan Bayh, Democrat of Indiana was heard to murmur, “If dropping the Medicare expansion is necessary, that’s what should be done.”

Senator John D. Rockefeller IV of West Virginia said that it was not yet clear if there would be enough votes to pass the bill, but that he believed Democrats would rise to the challenge. The American people wonder as they ponder all that has occurred so far.

Meanwhile, with the memory of a breakthrough behind us, the number of unemployed grows.  Misery and melancholy amongst the masses multiplies.  infirmity increases, and wounds go unattended.  Time with a physician is thought too pricey.  People are out of work, without adequate wages, and earnings have eroded.  Essentials are expensive and many have been eliminated. Dollars for insurance dues?  Only Congressmen and woman can afford those, or the time to dilly-dally with the destiny of those who long ago lost the power to govern.  Thus, the prescription remains the same.  Take two pills, or none, and call no one in the morning.

Health Care Reform, and the Reality of Party Politics . . .

Common Sense Health Care; Individualism or the Commonweal

CmmnSns

copyright © 2009 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

Democrats dance in the streets and declare success.  An ABC News-Washington Post poll released on October 18, 2009, found that only twenty percent of the population defines themselves Republican.  Progressive assert this result will work in the their favor if the public option is to pass.  However, the now ecstatic portion of the electorate discounts the “disconnect” discussed in the aforementioned study and also addressed in a Pew Research Center report published only a week earlier.  The overjoyed overlooked the Independents (42%), the leaner’s, Left and Right (39%), and the less than inspirational number who proclaim themselves proud Democrats (33%).   For these individuals, the topic of health care reform is a complex issue.  Trust in Congress is near nil.  People are engaged in the subject, albeit a bit overwhelmed.  Sixty-six percent (66%) say they do not understand the proposed policies.  Personal matters move most people, more so than Party politics does.  Possibly, that is the problem, or the predicament that precludes authentic medical insurance reform in America.

Health care concerns consume every American and $1 out of every $6 [six dollars] citizens and the country spends.  Currently, in the United States, 17.6 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) is devoted to medical costs.  In 2007, a national study, revealed more than sixty-two percent of bankruptcies were the result of expenditures related to illness and injury.  This total reflects a twenty percent increase in financial defaults due to medical bills since 2001.   Eighty percent of the persons who filed insolvency claims had health insurance.

Nevertheless, countless citizens cry our; our current health care coverage system is the “best in the world.”   Several of those who think medically speaking, the American people are not well-served say reform would make matters worse.  All crave what they believe to be common sense.  However, there are as many definitions of good judgments as there are people, politicians, pundits, and regular people.  Personal preferences have power over our opinions.  Perchance that is why so many believe “common sense” in the health care coverage debate is crucial.

When Senator Max Baucus, and the Finance Committee he chairs, unveiled their version of a Bill, they titled the remedy a common sense cure.  However, hours before the measure passed, uncommonly candid assessments appeared.  “Unfortunately, the bill would leave 17 million citizens and legal residents without insurance in 2019.”  Authentic appraisals frequently conflict with assertions.  Consider the notion called common sense.

For months, in town halls, tea parties, and at kitchen tables nationwide talk of health care reform triggers cries for “common sense.”  America’s Chief Executive asserts a need for it.  Cable News Correspondents and Commentators, such as Glenn Beck calls for it.  Magazine Publisher Larry Flynt offered his thoughts on the topic. Columnists Peggy Noonan states, “Common Sense May Sink ObamaCare.”

Entrepreneurs’ enter the fray. Whole Foods Chief Executive Officer, John Mackey addressed the common sense axiom as it relates to our wellbeing.  “Every American adult is responsible for his or her own health.””  Then, there are the American people.  They too are very familiar with what passes for lucid logic.  However, few ponder the variance in veracities.  The subject that supersedes sound judgment is the slant, “Individualism or the Commonweal.”  The two contradictory “ideals” together in a single mind cause conflict, or cognitive dissonance.

Recent Realities

Still, some “truths” remain solid.  Statistics show the rise in health care costs is steady.  Those families and individuals unable to acquire insurance for medical treatments has also increased.  Only two short years ago, measured data from the U.S. Census Bureau showed that there were 46 million Americans without health insurance in 2007.  Newer research released by the North Carolina Institute of Medicine stated that in January 2009 almost 52 million Americans were uninsured.  These numbers do not take into account the persons with inadequate coverage or those whose policies are canceled retroactively.  .  Recission is profitable and the preferred practice for many insurers.

Cancelation of policies is a popular notion. Employers consider personal compensations to be of greater value than the health of their personnel or the wellbeing of the common folk.  Perhaps the philosophy in practice explains why, in late 2007, Employer-provided insurance continues to decline.  Poverty is on the rise.  The median income is less than in the past.  Job-based health insurance has become but a dream.

Employee contracts are also now easily eliminated.   In a fifteen-month span, from February 2008 through May 2009, employers have shed 5.1 million jobs.  Many of these laborers cannot expect to be re-hired.  Professionals and business personnel are not exempt from these numbers.  In what was once the most prosperous country on the globe, the losses are great.

Only six months ago, Americans learned, in a single month “more than 320,000 Americans lost their employer-provided health insurance.”  This “amounts to approximately 10,680 workers a day.”  The authors of an investigation analysis avow, “Middle Class families, frequently collapse under the strain of the health care system that treats physical wounds, but inflicts fiscal ones.”   Possibly, that is why in Common Sense 2009 Larry Flint argues, “Wall Street, the mega-corporations and the super-rich . . . decide our fate.”

Thus, the average American struggles with a sense of destiny.  Those who think themselves stable and secure, gainfully employed and covered, are happy with the current health care system.  For the few who believe they are solid citizens, the uninsured as merely careless.  Their thought is, control is best when it is in the hands of commoners with common sense.  Hence, with posters held high in their hands countless have chosen a path of civil disobedience.  Protesters rally.  Everyday people rant.  Collectively, throngs of citizens who oppose the “ObamaCare” chant words first penned by writer Thomas Paine.  However, much is lost in the translation.

Thomas Paine; Reflections From the Past

Essayist, Pamphleteer, Radical, Inventor, and intellectual Philosopher Paine, some say, is the only voice of reason. Voters resolve Paine speaks to the rights of individuals.  He understood and addressed the necessary apprehension for Administrative rule.  Rarely remembered or recited is the founder’s resolve to embrace an elected Legislative and Executive Branch.

In order to gain a clear and just idea of the design and end of government, let us suppose a small number of persons settled in some sequestered part of the earth, unconnected with the rest, they will then represent the first peopling of any country, or of the world. In this state of natural liberty, society will be their first thought.

A thousand motives will excite them thereto, the strength of one man is so unequal to his wants, and his mind so unfitted for perpetual solitude, that he is soon obliged to seek assistance and relief of another, who in his turn requires the same. Four or five united would be able to raise a tolerable dwelling in the midst of a wilderness, but one man might labor out the common period of life without accomplishing any thing.  This necessity . . . will point out the necessity, of establishing some form of government to supply the defect of moral virtue.

Perhaps, in our shared hours of physical and fiscal pain we might wish to recall the words Paine penned when the New World was young, rather than rely on what in recent years has become the New World Order.  Our forefather, Thomas Paine stated a need for government,.  He understood; human frailties, such as greed, necessitate rules and regulations.  The role access to authentically adequate medical treatments plays in the broader community, would not have been lost on a man who recognized we all share responsibility for societal ills.

Paradigm of Perception; Thomas Paine Text Transformed

Today, those who rant against an official health care policy reason that in this republic elected officials are the enemy.  A person has rights, they shout. People who rage in opposition to plans that would transform the insurance cartel frequently quote Thomas Paine as though he would have supported their contentions, “We are all responsible for our own lives.”

Individuals intolerant of government have a great support system.  The Press, who loves to stir the pot, pours out prose to incite.  Glenn Beck, who thinks himself inspired by the original work of Thomas Paine makes “A Case Against an Out-of-Control Government.” This independent maverick ignores the words written by the man he, and other anti-Administration protagonists, thinks a prophet.   Perchance, the Broadcaster missed the passage,

“Many circumstances have, and will arise, which are not local, but universal, and through which the principles of all lovers of mankind are affected, and in the event of which, their affections are interested., is the Author.”

A fondness for one’s fellow man is rarely found in Mister Beck’s rhetoric.  Indeed, he has arguably fueled the flame of fury, divided the people, and contrary to the case for a central government, Glenn Beck has ignited a fire in defiance of the Paine doctrine.  In the name of a need to preserve and protect the public’s rights, the modern Author misconstrued Paine’s original text.  Announcer Beck has chosen individualism. He ensured that his economic future is secure and rejected the reality of the commonweal.

Writer Peggy Noonan, on the other hand while not a supporter of causes that advocate for the common welfare, did at least speak of the public as a whole.  She muses; American’s are reluctant to accept reforms.   “Resistance” explains the disdain for a policy change.  Countrywide the mood has been altered.  “The crash gave everyone a diminished sense of their own margin for error. It also gave them a diminished sense of their country’s margin for error. Americans are not in a chance-taking mood.” Perhaps, Ms Noonan is [politically] correct.  Ostensibly, it would seem the former Ronald Reagan speechwriter is “right.”

Today, few Americans have faith.  What they once thought was common sense has proven not to be the case.  The people trusted what earlier Administration’s proclaimed.  However, contrary to what a past President and authoritative candidates said, all was not well in the United States. The Economy (was not) Strong Enough to Handle Turmoil.   The number of uninsured Americans increased by nearly 8 million during the Bush Administration.  Perhaps, cognitive dissonance is contagious.

The Commonweal Crumbles As Individualist Chide

Citizens live in a country.  The American people reside in communities, and yet, most are concerned with only me, myself, and I.  People ponder their personal circumstances, and those of their corporations.  What is truth for persons in the business world affects us all.

No longer willing to believe in government, let alone a new Administration, proprietors who invested in smaller companies think to save themselves from Federal control.  Shop owners say they do not want Uncle Sam to oversee or own insurance options.  For these tycoons, competition in the private insurance industry is preferred.  As individuals these Chief Executives ignore the veracity that they too will pay for the pain they reap onto the public and their personnel.  The cost to companies will be nearly $2.4 trillion dollars for workers health care costs in the next decade.

The decision to emphasize earnings will have other effects. The Congressional Budget Office concluded “Employers who offer to pay for health insurance pay less in wages and other forms of compensation than they otherwise would, keeping total compensation about the same.”

The phenomenon known as “job lock” is also often lost in critical conversations related to health care reform.  The American people, supervisors, and subordinates are disconnected from the details until the day when thy suddenly are affected or afflicted.  A healthy staffer rarely thinks of the time when he or she might become ill or be injured and feel imprisoned by a job that provides health care benefits.   Professional passageways may be closed when insurance coverage becomes more important than the quality of life.  Nor, does a vigorous staffer remember medical care coverage can be retroactively removed.

Recipients Receive Government Medical Care and Reject Reform

Recipients of Medicare also disregard associations.  Rather than think of the generations they gave birth to people who benefit from the Federal plan speak loudly of their opposition to government managed health care programs. This seems contrary to common sense,, since these same individuals are joyous with what they receive.  This dichotomy offers little but a larger puzzle.  Where is the Common Sense? Many love what they have and loathe the possibility that others may profit from a similar or identical program.  

In America, our countrymen have adopted an alternative democracy, one devoid of universal concerns.  Unlike centuries ago, when a now popular Pamphleteer professed the need for a collaborative collective, in recent decades, by design, Americans have come to think of “me” first. Citizens are critical of the text that advocates for the commonweal, while they embrace its original author, Thomas Paine.

How might this have occurred?  Children in the “United” States no longer study civics. The subject has been removed from schools curriculums..  The cost of such classes was thought too high. The lessons were not learned at home.  Parents had to pay the price for a culture that does not cultivate a strong sense of community.  Much of our common history, and perchance, common sense has been lost.

Awareness for the predicament of our fellow Americans is absent.  Frequently,, people in this “affluent” country are detached from what they rather not believe exists.    Prosperous people, those who are, for now, content with their health care coverage, believe that those who lack medical insurance are impoverished.  The general public presumes people who do not work are by choice without coverage. Few can fathom what occurs when a free clinic opens its doors for a day.  In Houston, thousands of employed individuals turned out in search of medical treatment that they could afford.

Salvage Common Sense

If Americans are to embrace common sense as they say they wish to, we, the people must decide.  Does duplicity define us?  Will we choose to work as one; or we once again serve only our self-interest.  

Reform can expand the options for all and sacrifice none.  If Americans again hold dear the notion of the social equality, some citizens could state, I am happy with my employer-provided health care plan.  Others may prefer to opt for a government program.  A few could conclude, I will cover myself, eat well, exercise regularly, and escape most every illness.  It matters not which plan individuals choose.  When we work together we serve the commonweal and act on the axioms Thomas Paine set forth.

In America, should we decide to conserve the commonweal, retain consumption as the rule, establish that indeed we are rugged individualists, or reform our ways.   Will Americans waste not and want not?  Could the original thought transcribed in Common Sense once again be our greater truth? What will 2009 bring; more rants, rallies, or reason?  Only the approved insurance reform Bill will reveal which common sense approach Americans are willing to adopt.

Health Care Reform References . . .

“I’m Dying;” Please Ponder My Plea

copyright © 2009 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

I did not know of him or of his condition until today.  When he first approached me, he assured me, I did not need to assist him.  He was well taken care of.  kwickkick wanted to help me help myself.  Indeed, he hoped to lend a hand to all who reside in America.  He had only his story, a reminder of what is most important to a person when they learn they are about to pass.  Kwickkick offered his plea, to you, and to me, and asked us to ponder.

As he shared, I thought of how the compassionate chap, kwickkick could have been me.  However, he did not know of my situation.  As I said, we had just met.  The 34-year-old man, who discovered just hours earlier, he has but little time to live, is a contract employee in the sales division at software company.  He is as many skilled workers in the United States.  kwickkick is one of the forty-five, or more, millions of Americans without health insurance.  Too many of whom understand that the lack of medical coverage is a death sentence waiting to happen.  For kwickkick, the decree has been delivered.  It was as he expected and thus he penned, I’m Dying. [Please click on the his statement to read his tale which appears just below.]

As any healthy person, I cannot begin to imagine what kwickkick feels or what lies ahead for him.  However, as a human, as one who can relate to a life without medical insurance, I understand the historical references so eloquently stated in an essay so emotive.  

While my circumstances were never as dire as his, as an educated professional employee, for all but this past year of my life, I too never had health insurance.  My income, while barely, and rarely able to sustain me, was too high to qualify for Medicare or other services.  I too had to sacrifice much and still could not go to see a physician when I was in need.  Auspiciously, my situation, while at times serious did not leave me in the condition kwickkick finds himself in.  This gentle giant, of a being is dying.  

Nothing can be done to save his life.  Yet, he hopes his words will ensure the rest of us remain well, survive serenely, and do not endure the strife a life without medical coverage caused him.

The apprehension kwickkick so deftly expresses is, that after he leaves Earth, many others will be stricken as he is.  Kwickkick wants a better health care system for every American.  Hence, he submits his appeal.  Please read I’m Dying.  Updated here at BeThink, or in its original form at Daily Kos.

As kwickkick requests, share his tale with your Senators, Representatives, Republicans, and Democrats.  Forward the plea to President Elect Barack Obama.  Tom Daschle, too might benefit from a read.  Reach out to any and everyone you might think of.  Please, do what you can quickly.  While it may be too late for kwickkick, and he believes it will be, please ponder, the longer we  wait to communicate, to create the country we wish to live in, the more people will die a death that need not be.


copyright © 20089 kwickkick.  kwickkick at Daily Kos

The results from some tests came back today.  I have pancreatic cancer.  It is untreatable.  I will die in 2009.  I am not telling you this for pity, or for whining.  I have known this was coming for a while, and have made my peace with it.  I am telling you this to urge you on in your fight for universal health care.  And to urge you to continue to fight to support the Obama administration, loudly, whenever you feel you can.

My doctor says it probably would not have made a difference, but I have delayed seeing a physician for two years, even though I have had a series of symptoms.  I have been unable to qualify for health insurance that I could afford — and even if I could, my cancer would have been deemed a preexisting condition unless I had the insurance before two years ago.

I cut back on everything — movies, clothes, restaurants, hot water, air conditioning (in Texas), cost of each meal — and saved up my money so that I could see a doctor.  I still didn’t want to spend so much, and delayed everything until the symptoms became too serious (I was taken to an emergency room — and was booted to a county hospital when they found out I had no insurance, but made too much to qualify for Medicaid.)

Eventually, I saw my doctor, and paid what I could.  What was so frightening to me was not the fact that I was ultimately diagnosed with cancer — again, it would not have made a difference with my type — but the number of people I met in the waiting rooms who had done the exact same thing I had done.  They had delayed and delayed seeing a doctor, despite the pain and difficult symptom, because they couldn’t afford it.  We all knew that their chances were far worse — we were all at an oncologist’s office, and we all knew that delay made cancer fatalities far more likely.  An air of acceptance permeated the room; we could not change where we were.

These people didn’t have to be there.  They didn’t have to risk death.  Many of my new friends, I have no doubt, will die soon because they could not get insurance.

This is the reality of the world we are in.  Hopefully Obama will change things, although it will be too late for all of us in the waiting room.  But these are the real stakes.  This is what matters.  I know why people are offended that Rick Warren is offering the prayer.  I know Obama will do many things that anger people on this site.

All i ask is that, when you can, remember that he needs our support for the big things, so perhaps we should be more patient and forgiving on the small.  The fight against universal healthcare will be vicious.  The medical industry will get out all guns, and the Repubs will lap it up.

That is why we need Obama.  So, when you are angered by a small thing in the future, remember the big things. Remember those people in the waiting room, who all will probably be dead when the program is finally introduced. Remember me and remember my plea. The stakes are too high. It literally means life and death, for all those people who will be in the waiting rooms in the future.

Please, don’t take our eye off the ball.

================

Thank you for all your kind words of support.

Know this:

There is no reason to be sad. My possibilities for the next number of months are endless. I can do whatever I want and not worry about the consequences. I will not be taking anything at all — no clinical trials, no radical procedures. No matter how much I fight this year, it will still end the same way. Perhaps I’ll buy a few more months, all while destroying the ones that I will likely get by doing nothing other than eating well and keeping myself active.

A friend of mine is going to fly me to London (where he lives.) From there, I will spend a few weeks in Europe, hitching and backpacking when I can. I’ve never seen Europe and I want to.

As for using myself to fight for universal health care, sitting on the steps of the Capitol as one suggested — I can’t. I have so much I want to do in the next few months, and I don’t know how long I have. I don’t want to wait to die. I want to take the opportunity to live.

So please, carry on the fight. Remember this plea. But you will have to carry the flag without me.

Also, in answers to other items here: Yes, you can send this post wherever you want. And I will stay in contact, although probably not when I am in Europe.

Love to all.

Update

Again, thank you so much for all of your good wishes. It really does mean a lot to me.

I also wanted to make a few replies here. For those wondering about my background, I’m a 34 year old guy, I’m a contract employee in the sales division at software company, I’ve never been married but I am in a serious relationship with a woman I met four years ago.

As for my healthcare provider — there is no insurance company to go after; I still don’t have one. And my doctor/hospital are everything you would ever want. They  have provided me with so much care, and have taken only what I could afford, and I had to insist that they take that.

Many people have offered to host me in Europe and I thank you for that. My friend and one other — and hopefully my girlfriend, if she can get out of work without losing her job — are taking me on this trip. Whenever we can, we will be staying at good hotels, all expenses paid (my friend is truly digging deep on this one.) I’m not sure where we’ll be going, but I know I want to see France and Italy, in addition to England. That will be probably all I will be able to handle. I’m hoping that I make it through the whole trip without having to come back home early.

I know that I am going to have to have pain management, so there should be no worries about that. That has already become readily apparent. When I need to, I will use morphine. Also, my sister is making arrangements for me to go to a hospice when I need to.

As for the last part — people feeling sorry for me. I do appreciate your good feelings, but please know this: The last number of weeks as I was building toward the obvious answer of my condition has been a time of astonishing clarity for me. It is almost as if the world is brighter, the grass is greener, the sky is bluer.

While I have tried to live a fulfilling life, and as much as I dedicated myself to things that mattered,  I now see that I also wasted time on things that really weren’t important. The things that matter are so clear to me. I have come to recognize that life is divided between those things we can control, and those things we can’t. The secret of life is to recognize and accept those things that cannot be controlled, but to work like hell on the things that can be controlled to insure, they come out as the most fulfilling as possible.

That is why I made my post. I cannot control my cancer. I know this. There really are no options that would not entail wasting my last months. But I can, in my own small way, contribute to making sure our community never loses sight of the things that matter, of the things we can change. We have total control over what we fight for. We should never waste time. Our world has been so damaged — we have to direct our power toward helping people — through health insurance, jobs programs, justice for all. Those are the big items. And we have the power to make sure things change.

But we also have the opportunity to change our own lives. Life is a glorious, wonderful thing. There is so much beauty and awe in this world. Please, whatever you do politically, remember to find the joy in your life. It’s there, and it is in your control to reach it. Grab hold of it and never let go. And if you do, it doesn’t matter when you die. Yours will have been a life well lived.

Again, love to all, and thanks. This will probably be my last post for awhile.