While you were distracted, 9 million children lost access to health care

Nearly 9 million children in low-income families were enrolled in CHIP — until the Republicans, who control Congress, let it expire.

It’s not enough that I lost a son to lack of access to health care.

It’s not enough that my only surviving child has no insurance.

Now the Republicans in Congress have stripped my grandson and my great-granddaughter of their access to care.

At midnight on Sept. 30, Congress — which is controlled by Republicans —  allowed the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, to expire.

In addition, funding for community health centers expired at the same time.

So, Republicans, tell me again how you’re pro-life because you’re against a woman’s right to not bring a child into a world where no one cares if it dies in infancy or childhood, simply because you believe their parents are your moral inferiors because they’re poor and “just want a handout.”

Oh, and you’re also against paying people a living wage in exchange for a week’s work, making it nearly impossible for anyone to escape poverty.

You support keeping people in poverty and then criticizing them for being poor. Then you yank their children’s health care.

There is no defense for this. None.

This is terrorism. It is murder.

I have no problem offering a handout to children like my grandson and my great-granddaughter. I can’t understand why Republicans would have a problem with it.

I have no problem with the government funding clinics that care for people like my son, who works two part-time jobs as he enters his fourth year drug-free.

No one in my family has ever asked for a handout. We simply want what is available to people in every other industrialized nation on earth — health care.

While we’re on the subject of health care, let’s talk about the “failure” of the Affordable Care Act, which, by the way, would have saved my son’s life.

A record number of Americans have health insurance now, and while some of these policies are pretty crappy, they still are better than nothing.

Before the ACA, some 45,000 people died every single year from lack of access to care — that’s one every 12 minutes. Today, it’s between 15,000 and 20,000, the majority of those being in states that have refused to expand Medicaid to cover the working poor — the very people for whom they say they have sympathy.

My granddaughter was in high school when her daughter was born. She finished high school and now works and is in nursing school. She’s exhausted most of the time, but she’s determined to make it.

Tell me again how she and her baby deserve to die. I’d just love to hear your rationalization.

My grandson is in high school. He tells me he wants to be a teacher. He loves photography and he works at a restaurant so he can afford new photography equipment and to put gas in the car so he can go to the nature preserve and shoot birds and alligators. When he’s not driving, he’ll try to convince whoever is to slam on the brakes when he sees a good photo. His CHIP would have expired in March anyway, so no big deal if he gets sick a few months early, right?

And my great-granddaughter, who’s 4 1/2, well, she doesn’t even have a job. Perhaps she should learn to pull her own weight, right? I mean, where does that lazy little thing get off wanting to play when she could be out there helping to build roads or working at Home Depot?

No, wait — Home Depot doesn’t hire many full-time people anymore because it would have to offer them health insurance. Can’t have people getting health insurance when it might cut into profits, now, can we?

We’re flying flags at half-staff today because a domestic terrorist killed 20 people and injured 400. And while that’s a tragedy, I think 9 million children without access to care and millions more people losing access because their local clinic closed, is far, far worse.

When we can allow children to die from lack of access to care, we surely have lost our collective soul.

We are a despicable nation and we deserve to fall.

 

 

 

 

 

They think it’s a joke; I beg to differ

These are the people who just voted to gut your health care. Remember this in 2018. They all need to be sent home. Every damn one of them.

At a town hall in Idaho’s First Congressional District, Rep. Raul Labrador, a Republican, claimed no one dies from lack of access to care. The moment was broadcast on CNN.

“No one dies from lack of access to health care.”

I have news for you, you ignorant thug; you can pretend all you want that your vote to eviscerate the health care of more than 24 million people with this draconian bill won’t cause any harm, but the reality is that you will be responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of innocent Americans.

I was advised to have an abortion when I was pregnant with my son, Michael, because I’d contracted a rare virus and no one knew what problems it might cause. I chose (notice I have emphasized that word) to continue the pregnancy and I adored my son, despite the birth defect that would make it impossible for him to buy insurance, and with it, access to the care he needed.

His doctors chose to deny him the treatment he needed. That choice led directly to his death. That’s the truth, Raul. My son died as a direct result of the health care system you just voted to re-break.

This is my son, Mike, a very wise young man. I continue to be influenced and informed by his compassion and love.

If you and your cronies think you won’t be held responsible, think again. You now have made us so angry, so desperate to get rid of you and your ilk, that gerrymandering won’t protect all of you.

Come Judgement Day (I stopped believing in this many years ago, but I am reviving my belief in the hope that it will happen), you will be held accountable and you will be cast into the pits of hell (another belief I am reviving in hopes you and your murdering cronies will land there).

I already have told my representative, Mark Meadows, the same thing in a fax and in a comment on his happy post on Facebook.

We are coming for you, I told him. We have an opponent who can beat him, I think, a smart, charismatic, passionate and compassionate man named Matt Coffay. I don’t donate to political candidates as a rule, but I have donated to Matt and I will work as hard as I can to get him elected.

The very soul of our nation is at stake here. Are we a nation that cares about human life and wants to alleviate human suffering, or do these murdering thugs truly represent us?

I will once again carry voter registration forms with me everywhere I go. I will register even more than the 50 or so voters I registered for the last election. I will drive people to the polls. I will speak out against this despicable attempt to steal access to health care from the 33 million people who gained insurance under the Affordable Care Act because I am pro-life.

 

 

 

 

Murder. That’s what ‘repeal and replace’ really is.

“You die and you die and you die …”

The House will vote today on whether to murder tens of thousands of innocent Americans.

While you might not think the repeal of the Affordable Care Act and a replacement that takes health insurance away from some 24 million Americans is murder, but it is the premeditated removal of access to health care.

In my book, that’s murder, just as the death of my son was.

My son didn’t have to die. He shouldn’t have died. But he was denied insurance because a birth defect was a pre-existing condition. Because he didn’t have insurance and he didn’t have thousands of dollars in cash, he was denied care.

Think about this for a second.

My son was denied care when he got sick.

He was turned away, even though he was in pain and obviously sick because he didn’t have insurance.

Michael, age 3, playing with his food.

He committed no crime, but he was handed the death penalty for being born with a birth defect.

Yes, he went to the emergency room. But the emergency room only has to stabilize you, so my son was given pain pills and a laxative when the problem was a malignant tumor blocking his colon.

He went to the emergency room three times and got no help.

He was denied a colonoscopy for three years running — even though he’d already had pre-cancerous polyps removed by the time he was 25.

Yes, Republicans, he was working when he got sick, but he got too sick to work — try reporting for a shift waiting tables when you have stage 3 cancer.

And if you think you’re safe because you have employer insurance, this new law allows states to remove the protections of mandated coverage from your plan as well.

That’s right, you could lose maternity coverage, addiction treatment, mental health coverage. And while you may not want maternity coverage because you’re a man, your wife or daughter could lose a child because of lack of access to maternity care. In fact, you could lose your wife or daughter.

But go ahead, laugh and say, “like I need maternity coverage, chortle, chortle.” Maybe it’ll be a little less funny when your wife or daughter dies from lack of access to care.

And if you think they don;t know what they’re doing, consider this: They kept all the protections of the Affordable Care Act for themselves in this bill. We can die, but they won’t because they wrote the law to protect themselves and their families.

These murdering thugs belong in  jail, not in Congress.

But because they’ve been able to convince enough Americans to vote against their own interests, because they’ve been able to gerrymander their districts to prevent a Democratic majority, they get to murder tens of thousands of Americans.

If the ACA goes, I lose coverage because I have asthma.

If the ACA goes, 22 million Americans are in the same situation I am.

Are you one of them?

I have tried to appeal to my congressman, Mark Meadows — a man who claims to be “pro-life” and “Christian.” He is neither. I have called, written, e-mailed and faxed appeals to him, trying to appeal to his better nature.

As it turns out, Mark Meadows has no better nature. Nor do Robert Pittinger, Patrick McHenry or Paul Ryan. These are not reasonable people. These are criminals who belong behind bars for their part in this heinous crime.

You can say I’m a little over the top with all of this, but if you lose a loved one to this mess, you’ll understand.

If you don’t have health insurance, you are not a criminal, as much as those in power would paint you as such. Why else would their first question on hearing my son’s story be, “Was he working?”

Perhaps they should have to watch their children die. Perhaps that’s the only thing that will work to change their minds.

I really do hope there is a Judgment Day. I want to be there when they’re condemned. I want to see it happen.

 

 

#AltonSterling, #PhilandoCastile. Say their names; weep for them

#AltonStirling

#AltonSterling

#PhilandoCastile

#PhilandoCastile

Negroes
Sweet and docile,
Meek, humble, and kind
Beware the day
They change their mind

– Langston Hughes

As the bodies of black and brown men and women continue to pile up like casualties in a terror attack, I am forced to relive, again and again, the death of my own child from injustice.

My son died from negligent homicide, killed by doctors who knew he was gravely ill and who refused to treat him because he was low-income and had no insurance.

He died at home with me holding his hand. If I have anything to be grateful for, it is that I got to say goodbye. I got to tell him one last time that I loved him and that life without him would be so, so hard.

In the last two days, I have watched video of the blatant injustice of two executions of black men who had committed no crime other than being black men in the path of violent, power-mad cops.

I watched as the widow of Alton Sterling talked to the press and their son lost his composure and wept. I did the same. I’m still weeping after watching the video of the execution of 32-year-old Philando Castile in Minnesota last night.

I weep for his mother and his girlfriend and for the little girl who was traumatized by witnessing his murder and the abuse of her mother. Imagine a 4-year-old feeling compelled to tell her mother she’s there for her after such an atrocity.

I weep for all of the families and friends of people who are executed summarily with no trial, without reason, without respect for the fact that they are human beings.

These victims of violent racism are my children. They are my brothers and sisters. They deserve justice, although their families are unlikely to see it.

One by one, Freddie Gray’s killers have been let off. No one is guilty, even though a young man is dead with no trial. The cops were his judge, jury and executioners, and that, apparently is OK in our society.

Yes, I know cops face danger every day, but if they can’t see the difference between real danger and racism-fueled perception of danger, they need to be off the force.

If they think they have the authority to shoot someone whose only offense is driving with a broken tail light (and I know first-hand of cases where an officer broke a tail light after a stop so he could claim justification for the stop), they need to be in jail.

Selfishly, I am grateful that my surviving child is white. But his granddaughter is biracial, and her skin is dark and her hair black and curly. She is beautiful and smart and funny, and as she grows up, she will be in danger because she isn’t white.

This is unacceptable to me, as it has been since well before my great-granddaughter was born. We can not continue to allow this. We must stand up and demand justice. When cops walk away unscathed, we have to demand federal civil rights charges be brought.

We have to wake up to the injustice here because there are still people who believe these murdering cops are justified.

When a black person is summarily executed, we see his record all over social media within hours; when a white person murders someone, we learn about his church activities or that he was just a troubled young man and we should all be upset that he didn’t get the mental health care he needed.

We live in a racist culture, and if you can’t see it, you are part of the problem.

Stand up and be heard. If you’re a cop, speak out against this violence.

I stand with my brothers and sisters, my children, my beloved fellow human beings. I will do all I can to defend you. I will try to protect you. I will speak out for you.

Tell me where I am needed and I will be there.

I love you.

 

 

 

 

 

No more prayers, no more promises. Act now on guns

I took this off of Facebook this morning because it is so powerful.

I took this off of Facebook this morning because it is so powerful.

Ten more people.

Ten human beings.

Ten more corpses.

Ten more bereaved families.

When does it end?

When do we as Americans rise up and tell our legislators that we have had enough?

Something was supposed to happen after Sandy Hook, but nothing did. And the members of Congress who did nothing weren’t fired in 2014. We let them get away with it.

Instead, we blame mental illness.

Well, we’re not doing anything about mental illnesses, either.

Here in North Carolina, our legislature just cut another $310 million out of the mental health budget over the next two years.

So, people who need treatment are getting nothing. But they can get guns.

And not just guns that are good for hunting, either; they’re getting assault weapons, weapons that can kill a dozen people in a few seconds.

The meaning of the Second Amendment has been twisted beyond recognition, thanks to the NRA and gun manufacturers and their purchase of our members of Congress, and we have allowed it to happen.

I say that because I’ll bet not 5 percent of constituents have written to their members of Congress to demand something be done. I say this because these accessories to murder keep being returned to office.

If you’re fed up with hearing the lists of the dead, if you’re fed up with footage of funerals and memorials, if you’re fed up with having to teach your children how to try to stay alive during a shooting, stop voting for people with blood on their hands.

Stop voting for candidates who try to place the stigma on people with mental illnesses when the stigma belongs on them — the people who refuse to outlaw assault weapons, the people who refuse to require universal background checks.

The day of the shooting, I was in a store talking to a woman behind the counter, who believed nothing can be done.

“Regulating guns worked in Australia,” I said.

“That’s not the United States,” she replied. “It can’t work here.”

“So, you’re saying we should do nothing?” I asked.

“No, I think we all should arm ourselves.”

I politely disagreed with her and left the store.

I don’t want to live without hope that we can manage to do anything.

Something needs to be done and we have to stop being distracted by talk of mental illness, because that’s not the cause of mass murders.

The cause of shooting sprees is guns. It is the nearly unfettered access to guns, all kinds of guns — handguns, shotguns, semi-automatic guns — by anyone who wants them. It is the expansion of open-carry rights to the point that we can’t even feel safe in restaurants, stores and parks in our own communities.

Legislators are in the pockets of gun lobbyists, and they’re making our country more dangerous every year.

Now we have mass shootings almost every week, and the response is always the same: The victims and their families are in our thoughts and prayers.

Well, here’s what’s in my thoughts and prayers: We must get rid of the murdering thugs who have done this to our country. We must all wake up and let our legislators know we’re done allowing this perversion of the Constitution and that we will vote against them, no matter what their stands are on anything else.

We want an assault weapon ban now. We want universal background checks now.

No more posturing, no more pandering to the gun lobby.

We are done. If this crop of legislators won’t do anything about it, we will send men and women who will to Washington and to our state capitols.

No more shootings. No more bodies. Do something or go home.

I stand with Richard Martinez

Richard Martinez holds a picture of his son, who was killed by a gunman over the weekend.

Richard Martinez holds a picture of his son, who was killed by a gunman over the weekend.

You might think your vote doesn’t matter, but it does.

When you stay home instead of going to the polls, the lobbyists and the big corporations get the people they want — people who won’t pass ANY gun safety laws; people who support fracking; people who will slash basic safety net programs and who refuse to expand Medicaid.

Yesterday, Richard Martinez, the father of a young man who was killed by an angry young man with three legally obtained semi-automatic weapons, said he will spend the rest of his life working for change.

He choked through tears that he wants this gun madness to stop, and he said, “My son is dead and there is nothing they could do to me that is worse than that.”

I’ve been saying that since my own son died from neglect because he couldn’t get access to health care, and I have worked for expanded access to health care.

Now Richard Martinez will work for sensible gun laws, and I am with him. He said he fears nothing because the worst thing that can happen to anyone has happened to him.

But every time it looks as though we might get just one piece of sensible legislation through, it falls flat.

What do get passed are laws allowing guns anywhere — in malls, in parks, in fast-food restaurants. And as soon as those laws are passed and signed, we see semi-automatic weapons strapped to people in line at Chick-fil-A and Sonic. A woman was shot at a Walmart when someone’s gun went off accidentally, although I hardly think of it as an accident when someone purposely takes a loaded gun shopping.

I am tired of the pro-gun talking points:

“Guns don’t kill people; people do.”

Answer: People with guns kill more people than anything else. In domestic disputes, if there’s no gun handy, it rarely ends in murder. If people with active mental illnesses couldn’t gain access to semi-automatic weapons, Richard’s son still would be alive, as would all the children in Newtown, Conn., not to mention the people who were in the theater at Aurora, Col., the people at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin and on and on and on …

“Well then, why don’t we outlaw knives and cars? They kill people too.”

Answer: First of all, they don’t kill nearly as many people as guns do, and secondly, they have other uses; they are not manufactured solely for the purpose of killing people.

“I have a Second Amendment right to my guns.”

Answer: Not so much. The Second Amendment has been interpreted — after much lobbying by the gun industry — as meaning we all can have as many guns as we want, but the the amendment reads: A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

That part about the well regulated militia? I don’t often hear mention of that when people argue the amendment gives all of us unfettered access to whatever guns we want to play with. The amendment was adopted because the United States had no standing army at the time and George Washington didn’t want one. The amendment should have been repealed when we established a standing army.

“We just need to keep guns out of the hands of people with mental illnesses.”

The young man who killed Richard’s son was deeply troubled. His family tried to intervene, but to no avail. He wanted to stop taking his medications, so he did. He was over 18 so no one could force him into treatment. And despite the young man’s history, he was able to buy three semi-automatic weapons. Maybe we could keep them out of the hands of people who have psychiatric issues, but we don’t.

The lack of willingness on the part of Congress to pass any kind of gun safety legislation because of their fear of the NRA and gun manufacturers speaks loudly about how important it is that we get out and vote for people with the guts to stand up to these greedy bastards.

I have said it again and again: I don’t object to people who want to hunt or target shoot owning guns, but I do want to see someone charged with murder every time a child is killed while playing with a gun. It’s no accident if there’s a loaded gun in the house and a child is killed while playing with it; the charge should be manslaughter, if not murder.

One final talking point:

“You’ll have to pry my gun out of my cold, dead hands.”

Answer: OK.

 

 

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