I have watched with varying levels of hope, fury, and plain old dismay as the Health Care Debate of '09 has raged on. I'm sure it comes as no surprise to readers of this blog that I am a major advocate for universal health care, so I tend to get pretty antsy any time there's even a glimmer of hope for making it happen.
And what can I say? Obama got my hopes up. Now that both Democrats and Republicans--along with all-too many thoroughly duped regular folk--have been doing their utmost to damn the current effort to get comprehensive health care reform passed, I must admit that I'm feeling pretty pissed off.
The absurd expenses associated with decent care in this country, as well as the absolutely criminal practices of certain insurance companies, have impacted my life many times. Honestly, I would be truly surprised to meet anyone in the US who hadn't had at least one negative health care related event--whether for themselves or a friend or loved one.
And while the pols in DC squabble over "death panels" and bend over for their Insurance Company Overlords, real people are getting sick, going bankrupt, and dying in the good ol' US of A.
Well done! Letting the health care status quo go on is certainly one way to solve the problem of an aging population. Perhaps not a very good one--I'd argue, in fact, that it's pretty horrifying--but a lot of people seem to be pretty gung-ho about the tactic. Which is odd, seeing as how those same individuals seem to be the ones getting all riled up about "death panels" (which don't even exist).
But I'm not the only one who's figured out the preferred Republican health care strategy. Rep. Alan Grayson recently did a marvelous job of summing up the GOP's position when he unveiled a simple chart on the House floor that said, "Die Quickly."
That's about it. Opponents of real reform can argue until they're blue in the face that that's not what they want, and they're likely telling the truth, but the fact remains that, regardless of their intentions, the result of their policies (or lack thereof) is just that: Don't get sick. If you do, die quickly.
I believe that every human being, as an inherent right, should have equal access to quality, affordable health care. No matter what. There's pretty much no argument that could convince me otherwise.
On a personal level, I'm especially invested as someone who intends to someday become self-employed as a writer and musician (because, let's be frank, no one's looking to hire me for that full-time these days). That means I'll need to either A) get married to someone with insurance benefits, B) scrounge together whatever public state coverage I can manage, or C) go without. Don't get sick, and if I do, die quickly.
Frankly, I'm not all that enthused about the latter option. For the second, I can take some small comfort in the fact that Wisconsin does boast a few very decent public options. The Family Planning Waiver provides free reproductive coverage to women between the ages of 15 and 44, so my lady bits would be well taken care of. And there's Badger Care Plus (Core), which is the general health care plan I, as an adult with no dependent children, could get.
Only, Gov. Doyle made the announcement today that they're freezing new applications to the program after overwhelming numbers of Wisconsinites jumped on it since the plan went into effect three months ago. Doyle said they'd been getting between 500 and 600 applications each day. If that's not an argument for the pressing need for universal health care....
As for option A, let's just say I resent feeling even remotely pressured to get hitched simply to maintain health benefits. Que romantico! Hell, there are people in this country who can't even do that if they wanted to, just because a few curmudgeons get tingly in their underoos whenever same-sex relationships are brought up.
No one should lose coverage simply because they leave a job or get laid off. Further, no one should have to worry about breaking the bank over medical bills. But that's exactly what happened to my family.
Fourteen years ago, my mother took ill. It wasn't a "pre-existing condition." It was a rare, recurring cyst that decided to wreak some havoc in and around her brain. And though she fought like the dickens for two years, countless surgeries and treatments for the resulting infections, etc., couldn't prevent her death. In addition to the incredible grief, my family was also left with nearly $100,000 in bills. This even though we were "fully" insured, mind you. My father did his best to keep up with payments, but his minister's salary simply wasn't enough. Eventually, he had to file for bankruptcy. Thankfully, this happened before the new, oppressively restrictive Bush-era bankruptcy laws were passed, so the process went about as well as it could--all things considered.
Still, why did my mom getting sick and dying mean that we also had to suffer the added indignity of financial collapse?
If we as a nation continue down the same, tired road of fear mongering and kowtowing to moneyed insurance interests, that's exactly what will happen to our country as well.
(photo by Steve Rhodes on Flickr)