They’re not done trying to steal our health care

Do you really think this man and his partners in crime are going to give up and stop trying to take away our access to health care?

 

Everyone seems in a celebratory mood this morning.

Stop it.

Stop it now.

Mitch McConnell announced the latest version of Trumpcare is dead, and that saves Medicaid — for now.

But he also announced he will try a “clean repeal,” meaning the ACA would go away in two years. It would leave up to 33 million people without insurance. Thirty-three million. That’s how many people have gained insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

When my son died on April 1, 2008, I started fighting for reform. In 2009, I left my job as a newspaper reporter — I volunteered to be laid off — so I could devote all my time to the effort.

I wasn’t thrilled with the Affordable Care Act, but it was a step in the right direction. It would have forced insurance companies to cover my son and he likely would still be alive — that is, if it had passed in 2005 instead of 2010.

As it is, my friend, Kelly, who worked with me in the fight to pass the ACA, will die if this is repealed. Kelly has lived with cancer for years, and if the ACA goes away, she will lose her insurance and her access to the care she needs. She will die.

Middle-aged people with diabetes, asthma, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, depression and any number of other illnesses, will be left to die. Cancers that are treatable when diagnosed early will be diagnosed too late to save people’s lives — exactly what happened to my son.

Think about it: if you make $35,000 a year and you have a policy with a $10,000 deductible and high co-pays, you won’t be able to afford care unless you sell your house — if you own a house and can sell it in time to save your life. That’s what the Senate version of “replace” had in it, a two-tiered insurance system that would give people with a lot of money good insurance while the rest of us would be able to get only junk plans.

Before the ACA, some 45,000 Americans died every year from lack of access to care. That’s one every 12 minutes.

Under the ACA, an estimated 33 million more Americans are covered than were before. Most of the 12 to 15 million without coverage now are low-income people in states that have so far refused to expand Medicaid. That’s also where most of the approximately 20,000 who die every year from lack of coverage live.

So, we’re saving 25,000 lives every year with the ACA, but the powers in Washington want it repealed because — well, why?

The ACA is not failing. Insurance companies are not going broke. In fact, a federal court has found that United Health Care was not losing the money it claimed it was losing when it pulled out of the ACA marketplaces.

What’s happening is that a group of ultra-wealthy, ultra-conservative thugs want more money. They want more tax breaks for the rich. They want less regulation. And they don’t give a damn about you and me. They don’t care about the opioid addiction epidemic — in fact, they deliberately caused it to make money.

If you don’t remember, Purdue Pharmaceuticals began marketing synthetic opiates in about 1996. They told doctors and others that this new synthetic wasn’t addictive, although they knew damn well it is. Before long, doctors were prescribing it for things as simple as a tooth extraction — things where an over-the-counter painkiller would do.

They now ship enough painkillers into West Virginia alone to kill everyone in the state.

And you think these murderers are going to give up now because they can’t get a “replacement” through for the ACA?

Think again.

Their disdain for us runs so deep that they won’t give up. Tax cuts are far more important to them than our lives. They want that money.

They’re talking about passing a repeal that would take effect in two years — after the next election so we we can be distracted easily, since we’ll still have our insurance at election time. They can keep promising a replacement that they have no intention of passing.

Please remember that they’ve had seven years to come up with a replacement and they showed us already that they have nothing.

If they genuinely cared a whit for us, they would have had some idea how to do this. But the ACA was a conservative idea, generated by a conservative think tank (The Heritage Foundation) and implemented by a conservative governor (Mitt Romney) in a single state. The Democrats pushed it because they thought conservatives might be willing to go with their own idea.

They weren’t.

Obama offered a huge olive branch with the ACA, and he put icing on the cake by taking single-payer off the table at the outset. Had we started discussions there, we might have been able to get a public option and give insurance companies some competition.

But we started negotiations in the center and landed right of center, and they still want to get rid of it.

That alone should tell you that they will stop at nothing to take away our health care. If it is at all possible, they will do it. And they won’t stop trying.

Don’t let up now. Don’t stop calling, writing, e-mailing, faxing … Our lives depend on it.

 

 

 

For Women’s Equality Day, let’s defend women’s health

pp POSTER

Today marks the 95th anniversary of woman suffrage. That’s a big deal to me. My grandmother was the last generation of women who were denied the most basic right of a citizen — the right to vote.

But that didn’t mark the end of the Women’s Movement. Today we still make just 77 cents on the dollar as compared to men.

We still are less likely to get promoted into higher management and more likely to lose our jobs because we take time off to tend to sick children. And understand that we are the ones expected to stay home with sick children.

Men still think they can tell us whether and when we can have children. Remember the Congressional hearings about contraception in 2012? All of the panelists and all of the witnesses were men. When Sandra Fluke made noise about the injustice of that, Rush Limbaugh called her a slut.

Conservatives in state legislatures and in Congress — nearly all men — keep trying to take our right to contraception away from us.

When I was getting married in 1971, I had to sign a paper stating that my wedding was less than 90 days away before my doctor was allowed to prescribe the Pill for me. It was illegal for a doctor to prescribe any kind of birth control for a woman, and the law was so paternalistic that it was the doctor who would be punished, not the woman.

Now there’s a new push to close women’s clinics, especially Planned Parenthood.

No matter where you stand on the morality of abortion (I say it’s only the business of the woman and her doctor), Planned Parenthood prevents far more abortions than it performs.

Low-income women get their health care from Planned Parenthood clinics. That’s where I got my care when my kids were young and I was a single mother struggling to make ends meet. I had my annual checkups and cancer screenings there, and I got my contraception there. When I had bronchitis, I got antibiotics there. The clinic likely saved my life.

I was at a counter-protest last week and the people who wanted to close down Planned Parenthood were among the rudest, meanest, nastiest anti-life people I have ever encountered. Their behavior shook me to the core. Apparently, fetuses matter more than their mothers because these people didn’t care that women die when they lose access to health care. In fact, some said the women who get care there deserve to die.

Well, I have news for these creeps. I can be as loud as you are. I can make as many signs and I can fight just as hard for women’s lives as you fight against them.

I’m not good at the violence they so love to promote and perpetrate, but I can love better than any one of them, and I will fight for women’s access to health care with every ounce of strength I have.

We have to draw the line now. We can’t let them take away any more women’s health clinics, whether or not the clinics perform abortions — which, by the way are still perfectly legal.

Women’s lives matter.

 

 

Women’s lives just got more difficult

hobby lobby

It appears we’re living under Scalia Law.

In the last week, the Supreme Court has ruled against women’s health and privacy in two shocking decisions.

In the first, they abolished the 35-foot buffer zone around women’s health clinics in Massachusetts, saying the zealots who verbally abuse patients, while waving pictures of dismembered fetuses in their faces, can go right ahead with their free speech. Apparently, their right to hate speech trumps my right to go into a clinic unmolested.

About 90 percent of women going into health clinics are there for reasons other than abortion. I got my primary care at a Planned Parenthood clinic in New York for several years when I was uninsured. I never had — or wanted — an abortion.

I also never had an unplanned pregnancy because I had access to low-cost contraception — which a second decision took away from women who work for corporations owned by Christian fundamentalists. I’ll bet the ruling would be different had the suit been brought by Muslims or Orthodox Jews.

Without the buffer zone, women who go into these clinics are subject to being filmed. So much for a right to privacy. Protesters sometimes grab them to prevent them from entering the clinic, never knowing whether the woman might just be there for a cancer screening or to renew a prescription. Some of the women going to these clinics are actually seeking help getting pregnant.

But the zealots don’t discriminate.

I saw a video not long ago of a woman whose infant had died in utero. She was at the clinic to have the dead fetus removed, and she fell apart when the zealots started screaming at her. Her husband explained why she was there in an effort to shame the zealots. But they’re so eager to stop one abortion, they don’t care who gets caught in the crossfire.

These are the people who the Supreme Court protected in its decision last week.

In today’s decision, the justices have said Christians — whose company invests in the pharmaceutical companies that manufacture contraceptives — can deny women insurance coverage for contraception.

This means Hobby Lobby’s low-wage workers will be faced with choosing between facing a raging crowd of zealots, who just might turn violent (c’mon, they have a history), just to get low-cost contraceptives, or dying at the hands of a butcher because they can’t run the gauntlet of zealots to get a legal abortion.

No mention was made in the decision of coverage for Viagra and testosterone replacement therapy, which will still be covered — because it’s for men, and obviously, men have more rights than women under Scalia Law.

 

Still seething

This is my son, Mike, who paid taxes right up to the time he got sick. After his Stage 3 colon cancer was diagnosed, he became one of the people Mitt Romney doesn’t care about.

The more I think about it, the madder I get.

I know I said a piece about Mitt’s comments yesterday, but since then I’ve been thinking about all the people who don’t pay income tax — Mitt most likely included.

There’s my friend, Lynn, who worked in human services all her life for low pay. She’s on Medicare now and she gets Social Security. She’s not on the dole and she’s not looking for a handout.

Then there’s my friend, Mike, who was injured in service to his country, and the woman he would love to marry. She has diabetes and would lose her health care if she married him. She also would love to get a job working with children, but she can’t because most of those jobs don’t come with health benefits.

All three of these people are better Americans than Mitt will ever be.

Then there’s my son, Mike. He worked hard and paid taxes until he got sick. He didn’t have health coverage because a birth defect is a pre-existing condition, and because of that, he couldn’t get the screening tests he needed.

After he was diagnosed with Stage 3 colon cancer, Mike had to leave his wife to get Medicaid because she had student loan money in the bank. He later divorced her so she wouldn’t be responsible for his student loan debt.

He applied for disability but was turned down twice, even though he had metastatic colon cancer. He finally got approval nearly three years after he first applied, but he was dead nine days before his first check came.

He was one of the “47 percent” after he got sick, but he wasn’t looking for a handout. He wanted to work, but he was too sick. He even tried working a part-time job for a couple months, but he couldn’t even work two hours without a nap.

In the end, everyone got paid except Mike. He never had the dignity of deciding what bills to pay because we all paid his bills for him. Not everyone is lucky enough to have friends and family who love them the way we loved Mike.

My son was not a bum. He was not lazy. He was terminally ill and still couldn’t get what he needed, even though he had paid into the system for 15 years.

These are some of the people Mitt Romney isn’t interested in.

And no Mitt, it wouldn’t help if you were Latino. I have a feeling you would be the same arrogant bastard no matter what your ethnicity.

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