Tuesday, July 24, 2012

REPEALING COMPASSION: TRUTH, JUSTICE, AND THE AMERICAN WAY


I guess if they replace it with RomneyCare,
like in Massachusetts, we won't notice much difference.
That would actually be okay...but why bother?

I wrote the other day about my newly minted access to almost affordable health insurance...thanks to the Affordable Care Act and no thanks to any Republican. This has been a boon to me because my cellular systems had been in rapid deterioration since my COBRA benefits expired. The problem was that no insurance company was going to enroll me for medical coverage because of my preexisting conditions.

Too late, Mitt. I'm already sick.
Now, because of the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP) mandated in ObamaCare, I can get rudimentary health coverage (80/20 with a $2,000 deductible) for $376 per month. Republicans are hell bent to repeal ObamaCare as quickly as possible. Mitt Romney says it will be the first thing he does on his first day as Oligarch-in-Chief.
Apparently these bozos think that enabling me to have insurance is somehow un-American. They preferred the system in which the private insurers served as gatekeepers to diagnosis and treatment, and the surest way to save money was to deny coverage to those who most needed it and to deny the claims of those who dared to get sick. Trouble was they didn't pass those savings on to their policy holders. Instead they passed them on to their executives or spent them on lavish self-congratulatory parties in posh resorts. That, so it seems, is the American Way.

Well, is it Fascism or Socialism?
I need to know what kind of un-American
I am for supporting compassion.
A lot of people who ought to know better agree with this bunkum. They have been persuaded to regard me and 30 million other uninsured citizens as a shiftless, lazy mob trying to needlessly burden the federal budget with entitlements it can ill afford. That tens of millions of them are a couple of paychecks away from joining our mob doesn't dissuade them very much from holding us in contempt. This is American Social Justice.
What no one on the other side of this seems to realize is that saving money by denying coverage is a false economy. The money is not actually saved. It's just paid by someone else. 'Who cares,' I can hear them ask? 'As long as the government's not footing the bill, it's not being added to my tax burden.' Well...maybe not your tax burden, but it is likely to be a burden, and no one is immune.
Let's just take me for an instance. I've got insurance now, which has allowed me at least to find out what is wrong with my sinuses. I know I've got a lot of polyps up in my nose. I know they are going to require surgery. I know that they are so severe that they have started to erode the bone tissue of my skull, especially around my eye sockets.
Were it not for the new PCIP insurance, which I pay for by the way, I wouldn't even know that much. Now, just for argument's sake, let's say my condition is even more serious than I know. Let's say that one of these polyps growing inside my head and giving me headaches and preventing me from sleeping through the night—any night—is malignant. Worst case scenario—let's also imagine that I don't have insurance.
Now the Republicans and their Tea Party shot-callers think I should just go quietly. 'Shuffle off and die already. Quit whining about it while we're trying to watch the Real Housewives of New Jersey.'
I actually tend to agree. I'd rather go peaceably. I'm tired of all the anxious suffering.
I know that's not going to happen though. My family is not going to allow it—not even the Republicans among them.
They are going to insist that I get as much treatment as they can afford. They're just like that. They're going to take care of me. I'd take care of them. That's how family works. Here's the fallout though—the hidden cost the Republicans can't see, the dirty little economic fact that puts the lie to any Tea Party Republican idea about fiscal austerity.
Whatever my family spends on my medical care is money that they're not going to spend on new cars, or furniture, or vacations, or any one of hundreds of things they might spend their discretionary income on if they don't have to spend it keeping me alive.
That's just one instance, and I'm just one guy among 30 million who didn't have insurance and won't have it again if the Republicans have their way. So while the rest of you might not be paying for our medical care, you will be paying, in some measure, for the economic fallout of our not having insurance. You were paying for it before. You just didn't know it. This is the American Truth.
Government austerity is a false economy. In fact it's no economy at all.
There was a woman at the doctor's office the other day...same time as me. She needed to commiserate with someone, and since I was the only other person in the waiting room it fell on me. She was having more issues than she had time to deal with because she'd had to take her 42 year-old mentally challenged son out of a day program he was in because our Republican governor had cut the program's funding in half.
Now where do you suppose the money that the governor saved by trimming this program went? It didn't go anywhere really. Ostensibly it reduced the state's deficit, which means that it was money that the state wasn't going to get anyway. Government shouldn't spend money that it doesn't have. Fiscal responsibility.
The problem is that the money is going to be spent anyway—maybe not by the government, but someone, somewhere, is going to end up burdened by the state's savings. It just won't be as equitable a solution as it would have been if the government borrowed the money for cheap and paid it back when the economy turned around and tax revenues went back up.
Here's how it really works. The retarded guy's mom has to now pay to provide her son with the kinds of activities he used to get in the program. I don't pretend to know what they are, but I do know that that woman is now doing what the state used to do. She is less well equipped to do it, and she's had to give up her part time job and a lot of other things including her own medical care to make it happen. So instead of having one burden, day care for the mentally challenged 42 year-old son, the state is now faced with the prospect of having two people on welfare.
Maybe the state isn't actually going to pay for these two burdens where there used to be one, but someone in the state is...one way or another. Maybe it will be when the mother gets carted by ambulance to the hospital for a stress related heart attack. She won't have insurance because she quit her job to take care of her son, who will now have to go into a foster care program or become a homeless vagrant—take your pick.
The hospital will have to raise its rates to cover the cost of her indigent care. The insurance companies that cover those Florida citizens who still have health insurance will raise their premiums to cover the hospital's higher rates. The employers who pay those premiums will not be able to pay bonuses or give raises to their remaining employees because their health insurance costs are too high to allow it. But you know what? At least it's not a tax.
Fact is costs don't go away just because government doesn't pay them. Society still gets left holding the bag. Society just doesn't have to blame the guys who took the benefits away. After all they saved us a bunch of money.
They'll be able to tally it all up and show us charts and whatnot to prove what a marvelous job they did getting government spending under control.
The economy will still be in the tank, people still won't have jobs, and 30 million of us will still be uninsured, but that will all be someone else's fault—probably the shiftless, lazy mob of folks like me who would rather bitch about our lot in life than do anything constructive.
Meanwhile the Republicans can take all the entitlement savings and spend them on tax cuts for their rich friends. The rich friends will make campaign contributions to candidates who are closer to Voldemort than Ronald Reagan, fund scurrilous PAC attack ads, contribute large sums to fancy prep schools where they can incubate more of themselves, and give enough money to the Mormon Church so it can start buying up Vatican treasures. A lot of this is characterized as charitable giving, so, you know, it's comforting at least to know that they are not buying fuel for their yachts either.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Treason! Who knew?


I went to the doctor last week to get a CT scan of my head and sinuses—something I've needed to do for months but have put off because I didn't have health insurance. Now, thanks to the much maligned Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) I have insurance that I can almost afford even though I am officially a cancer survivor with high blood pressure and multiple kidney stones.
One of the more amenable provisions of ObamaCare is the Pre-existing Condition Insurance Program. It enables people like me, people who really need insurance, to get it even though the insurance companies and their enablers would rather that we just die already because—well, they don't have to pay for that. I've been turned down for medical insurance multiple times because of my ongoing health issues—issues which have only gotten worse because they weren't getting any attention. As you can probably imagine, this has been worrisome.

The Tea Party Republican solution
to runaway health care costs.


When I lost my job I had COBRA. This allowed me to continue on my former employer's group policy, although at an inflated rate. Unfortunately, COBRA is only available for 18 months. At the end of 18 months I had to apply for some kind of private continuation policy. The best option, in fact the only option because of my rather serious preexisting conditions, was a guaranteed issue policy available under the provisions of the Health Insurance Portability and Availability Act (HIPAA).
I got quotes for several of these, and, because of the preexisting conditions, they were going to cost me a minimum of $24,000 per year. This would have been a hard nut to crack on unemployment that totaled only $14,400. Hardly anything would have been left over to pay the rent, electricity, groceries, and put fuel in the yacht. Clearly something was going to have to give, and that something was health insurance.
Naturally this put me at considerable risk of a premature if not untimely death. Losing my job wasn't exactly a death sentence. It was something more like mandatory Russian Roulette. Like Russian Roulette, the longer you play, the worse your odds. Even though I have insurance now, it may be too late. I may already have played too long.
It's going to take months to find out what all is wrong with me before the doctors can start fixing it. Hopefully we will make some progress in that direction before the Republicans repeal the Affordable Care Act in the interest of fiscal responsibility and preservation of our basic American liberties.
I am a little conflicted about this. It never occurred to me that my right to life would be held hostage to the insurance companies' right to continue to muck up the American health care system. Now I find that I'm not only a whiny, sniveling layabout trying to milk the system of its bounty, I am a traitor to American values as well.
A real patriot would just suck it up and quietly off himself. Of course a real patriot has health insurance, so this is kind of a moot point. It's only after you lose your health insurance and find yourself in a situation where it is difficult or impossible to get coverage that you realize that your loyalty to the system is not a two-way street. As soon as you become a burden to the privileged, the enfranchised, and the entitled, you are a risk that American Exceptionalism does not care to afford.
If you would believe statistics, many of us are within a few paychecks of this kind of treasonous dependence, yet still choose to believe in and vote up the policies that keep us in this precarious servitude. Go figure.


Thursday, July 19, 2012

Guest Writer

I'm guest writer today over at Kelly Sajonia's delightfully relevant blog, Naked Girl in a Dress. 

Check it out here:   http://nakedgirlinadress.com/6714/home-maintenance-and-the-thorny-path-to-usefulness/

Stick around and read some of Kelly's offerings. She's a great writer and really plugged into social media. Don't expect to find any actual naked girls though.  


She's also running things over at Studio 30+, a community of mature writers and bloggers who care about craft and content. Broaden your scope.