Friday, August 14, 2009

Health Care Reform Debate Needs New Voices

A friend sent me the link to the video below. In it a woman by the name of Katy Abram makes an impassioned anti-health care plan speech to Sen. Arlen Specter at his town hall meeting. I was not impressed with her argument; she doesn't have a clue as to what she's talking about. I have no patience for people espousing opinions based on nonexistent facts. My friend, who is far kinder than I am, observed that while she was totally uninformed, that she nonetheless appeared to be a decent person.

I don't think that she's a decent person. I think that she's selfish and doesn't give a damn about anything except her own back yard. People like her are dangerous; they form the base of Limbaugh's dittoheads and the acolytes of Glenn Beck and all of the other ultra conservative groups. She's uninformed but too stupid to know that she doesn't know or understand the issues that she is attempting to address.

The biggest issue that these people have is some twisted notion that their hard earned money is going to be taken away and distributed to a bunch of undeserving, lazy ethnic minorities and illegal immigrants. That's the subtext of every reference to upholding the Constitution and getting back to the principles of the founding fathers.

Her entire opinion was based on her fears that so-called good, hardworking Americans such as herself are being asked to be their brother's keeper. In spite of the litany that these people espouse about America being founded on Christian values, they are as far removed from any resemblance to Christian values as I am from looking like Marlene Dietrich.

These narrow minded, ignorant, selfish semi-bigots scare me more than any honest, sheet wearing, card carrying member of the KKK. The KKK has always acknowledged that it is based on a sense of self-superiority and hatred of the "other;" these people delude themselves into believing that they are just being good citizens, trying to preserve American values.

I think that they are so consumed with their own sense of self-righteousness that they have no ability to empathize with others. As long as their little piece of the world functions well, they don't give a damn about anyone else's troubles. They are also incapable of recognizing that they may find themselves in the position of not being able to afford health care. They can't anticipate such a thing happening because they function under the misbegotten belief that such things only happen to the unworthy. Of course, they can't imagine themselves as ever being unworthy, therefore they can't imagine finding themselves in a position that they believe only befalls those who are lazy, shiftless, and worthless.

The level of ignorance would be laughable except that just because accusations and innuendo are without basis in fact does not mean that they are ineffective. I think back to the Clinton administration's attempt to enact similar reforms to our health care system; those efforts ultimately failed because too many people believed the outright lies that were propagated about the proposed changes.

Once again the lies abound, with stories about "death panels," about forcing everyone to give up their current plans and join the government plan, about huge tax increases on the middle class to pay for the plan, and the horrors of becoming a socialist country.

According to the evening news, most of the protesters admit that they haven't read the health care bill or any summaries of the bill. When did ignorance become so fashionable? How can you have a valid opinion on anything that you really don't understand?

Some 47 million people in this country have no health insurance. That number doesn't include the people who are under insured--they have insurance but not enough to cover a major illness. Insurance companies can deny coverage to an insured person who has paid premiums for years, alleging that a treatment is experimental. You can challenge it, but you may be dead by the time a decision is made in the case.

An insurer can refuse to insure an individual with a pre-existing condition unless you are part of a group policy through an employer or your state has a high risk pool plan. Of course, there may still be a waiting period before any treatment connected to your pre-existing condition is covered.

At one point, I was considering going into private practice, so I investigated how much I would have to invest in health insurance. After I dutifully applied online to Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina, listing that I am a diabetic, have atrial fibrillation, sleep apnea, and congestive heart failure, BCBS informed me that I was classified as uninsurable, but if I was willing to pay $3700 per month, they would provide me with a minimalist insurance policy.

When I was done rolling on the floor and laughing hysterically, I politely declined the policy. In spite of all of my diagnosed problems, I haven't been hospitalized in 10 years. I take my meds, exercise, see my doctors regularly, and eat healthy most of the time (chocolate is health food of a sort). Without insurance, I wouldn't be able to afford my meds or see my doctors, and would certainly cost the system far more with visits to the emergency room. I'm fortunate. I had the choice of taking a state job with health insurance benefits.

However, I know that everyone isn't so fortunate and I do believe that is is my responsibility, our collective responsibility as a society, to ensure that everyone has access to preventive and maintenance health care. That's what the proposed health care reform plan is about. Those of us who understand this have to speak up and serve as a counterpoint to drown out the lies being spouted that threaten to derail this renewed effort to ensure that all of us have access to quality health care. There are people whose lives depend on us.


Beth said...

I'm tryin', Sheria, I'm tryin'! I sent an email tonight to Whole Foods after reading the CEO's (Mackey) anti-health care op-ed piece. (Google 'Whole Foods Mackey health care' and that should get you there.)

I couldn't remember if I I was the one who sent you the video with Abram, but I was reasonably certain I didn't have much sympathy for her. When I checked my entry again, I saw that I'd written that I had no sympathy for her, and called her a "bobblehead." Good to know. LOL

Your analysis is right on. I hope her cluelessness serves as a wakeup call to many. These non-arguments are ridiculous and I would think that it would be obvious to all that Katy is not the best spokesperson for those who are unable to afford basic health care.

Love, Beth

Joy said...

You nailed it! Excellent post! I'm going to link this on my blog. I just had comments from someone like the people you described on here when I wrote about the protesters.

warrior scout said...

my first thought was a dry one.. tell me what you really think...:)

but beyond that.. i cannot believe that i am saying this, but in the world of healthcare, in some ways folks with hiv are privileged in some ways, as they have access to healthcare and medications- both vital to their well being. much of this, of course, is funded by either private insurance or the ryan white care act. an amazing reality is that even with this clear and easy access, there are many many people who can't, won't, or don't make it into care.

something tells me, when reform begins to integrate into our cultue, we may see the same phenomenon.

Dannelle said...

Sheria- Bravo and standing O!
I am so glad Beth commented first- I read her entry and remembered it well. You are right on with righteous indignation to boot! I think you took it a step further in comparison and clarity. I have, in my quiet way, said for decades, what we need is that (dare I say?)"socialist" outlook to healthcare- Perhaps it is too late in the game for my generation (we lemmings who need to jump into the abyss) but please, our children and their children- save them now! Love and Hugs abound to you-

Bucko (a.k.a., Ken) said...

We pledged to attend a health care event, and did with Congressman Donnelly, leading by example by waiting patiently and asking real questions versus spouting the anti-health care dribble :o)

kelly said...

This is why I love your entries.. straight to the point and no holding But I agree, the ignorance of some.. and not having a clue is so true.. unless it hits home they are clueless...It is so scary out there.. makes me wonder what the future holds for my children..

miss alaineus said...

preach it.

the ignorance of the teeming masses on the subject of just how insurance works frightens me.


Gerry said...

I was interested to read a letter to the editor in the Arizona Republic who said that Americans are fond of pointing out the negative side of health care where everyone is covered as in England. He said they did not know enough about it, that he had lived under such a system and to him it was better and more fair to cover everyone. Our health care is so hit and miss in this country. I am covered by medicare and access and before that by access (state aid) since I was disabled in my fifties, and I have felt guilty because young hard working people were trying to get along without any health care for them or their families. The fear and worry was horrific when a big medical crisis hit. It was for me before I finally became completely disabled, so why not cover everyone. Why should just the lucky minority such as I have no health care worries. I would certainly be willing to put up with whatever problems ensued with national health care to see more fair treatment for all. I just turn off people who are ranting and raving about losing our independence to socialist practices. It would be coming from someone who as you say can afford health care. We need to do something about the disparity in treatment, the inconsistency. Why in the world cover seniors and neglect the working force? That does not make sense. We seem to try every way we can in this country to break the backs and spirits of the working class. Gerry

Alan said...

My two bits worth -

Bit one - We pay for all those un and under insured people anyway. If the government can put together an option that has less waste then we are all better off. At least the government isn't a "for profit" business (though there are many who profit while they're there).

Bit two - We lived in a "socialist state" for a while. At least in a country where basic health care was provided by the government for everyone. In N.Z. everyone, even visitors had basic health coverage. My wife worked in the health care system there and does here in the U.S. The difference we say was in two important areas. First almost everyone got the basic checkups and preventative things done, not because they were mandated, but because they were free and easy to access. That solved a lot of problems. Second, care continued until the problem was solved. CC is an SLP. Here her therapy time is limited to a certian number of minutes depending on who is covering and what the problem is. Therapy often takes more than the alloted number of minutes and often needs follow up to keep things progressing. In N.Z. there were no limits on the time as long as progress was being made. There was also an expectation that follow-up would happen. Here, at the end of the alloted time the patient, family, and therapist can request additional time, and it may or (most likely) may not be granted. Follow up doesn't happen. In most cases patients are dropped when their coverage runs out, and you see them again in a few months when things have gotten bad enough that they qualify again. When the system is not driven by making a profit it is in their best interest to get people healthy, prevent illness, and treat untill well. When it is only about making a profit (like our system) then the system doesn't really want you to get well. Healthy people don't make the system any money.

Mark said...

You're preaching to the choir on this one, of course.

Two things: When she says: "Maybe I'm just not that smart" she's right. You don't know what you're talking about, uninformed lame-ass. Let people who inform themselves take the lead, instead of just parrot Glen Beck.

Secondly: The Republicans supported death panels just fine when they were called "draft boards"

Sarcastic Bastard said...

As usual, I couldn't agree more with what you say.

Well said you.



Lisa :-] said...

Wonderful post. I get so angry at the "bobbleheads." I wish I could feel sorry for them, because they really have no idea how they are being used as pawns by players with agendae they could never comprehend. But I can't pity them, because allowing themselves to be stupid TOOLS just does so much damage...

Lynn said...

I think a lot of people don't even put that much thought into it. They just see that people on their "side" are against it and repeat what they hear and work themselves into a panic about something they don't understand at all.

The healthcare debate shouldn't be about whether or not we should have a public healthcare program but about what form it should take. The people who are against any kind of program are squandering their opportunity to be involved in shaping the future.

Esther Montgomery said...

Hello. I came here through 'Roberts' Roost' - and very glad I did too.

I live in England and found this post specially illuminating because I hadn't realised the opposition to health care for everyone in the U.S.A. was in any way about wanting to exclude specific groups.

If it weren't for our National Health Service, I can't think I would be anything but dead. I have a thyroid deficiency, epilepsy and pernicious anaemia. I am a very expensive person to keep alive!

When I heard that President Obama was talking about introducing free health care for all, I anticipated huge rejoicings throughout the U.S.A. and was completely non-plussed when this didn't happen. How could this be? Your post goes some way to helping me understand.

Lots of people in Britain criticise our Health Service. In part, it's a bit like teenagers criticising their parents. It's what they do. It doesn't mean they do not love them. Nor does it mean parents should be abolished.

And in part, it is because things do go wrong, obviously they do, and then there are perfectly sensible things to complain about. But the things which go wrong or are inadequate are often the unforeseen and unintended results of attempts to improve things in other parts of the service. Systems and work practices and finance are always having to be re-balanced.

Living in England, lack of proper Health Care for millions of citizens seems, for many of us, to be the mark of an under-developed country - a notion hard to associate with the U.S.A. and, therefore, a puzzle.

I would be homeless and dead several times over if I didn't live in Britain. We, in Britain, complain about the buses, we complain about the weather, we complain about the Health Service. It's what we do. But it doesn't mean we aren't grateful for them.

Best wishes.


P.S. I'm so glad to have found your blog. (Though, to my shame, I think I came across it once before and lost track of it - so, perhaps I should say 'found it again'!)