Why We Must Save the Public Option

Aug 12 2009 Published by under Featured News

With Democrats signaling willingness to compromise on the public option, health care reform is quickly morphing into health insurance reform, which is great for everyone who already has insurance, but what about those who don’t?

I’m beginning to realize how very much I was hoping the national healthcare plan with the public option would pass. I’ve been spending a good part of all the money I’ve gotten on holding my body together for over twenty years now, and I have some definite opinions about what’s going down nationally.

My ex-husband gave me enough money when we split up to have covered me for the rest of my life had I been a normal person physically. But I was not. When I was a young woman I began to deteriorate physically and mentally as undiagnosed hypo-thyroidism and bipolar disorder savaged me. I received a diagnosis and some real help twenty years after I first started manifesting symptoms, but damage had been done, and I’ve needed a lot of maintenance work since then to stay functional. There have been times when I have not been capable of functioning, and without the help of others I would have been on the street by now. I don’t know what my future holds, but I understand the fear of it.

On a good year my body has cost me $10,000 and on bad years more like $25,000 – including the cost for the health insurance I’ve always had to get. These expenses have been catastrophic for me, and having been hit particularly hard in real estate as well, my financial life is in ruins.

Thank god for government programs such as Medicare, which I hope will take some of the crushing burden from me in a few years if all goes well. I am hanging on by my fingernails, and I know there are thousands and thousands more like me.

And in response to this, what do we see? We see these politically oriented or corporate shills revving up dangerous emotions in masses of people! We have a right to gather in public in order to discuss our future with public officials. This discourse is being prevented by people who are operating from the most base and calculated of reasons: greed, personal & corporate gain and political dogma.

Ordinary Congressional representatives trying to serve the public good are being shouted down synchronistically in a savage, brutal way we have not seen in my lifetime in this country! Today I read that a gun was left behind at a meeting held by a Democratic congressperson.

I think it’s time for more people to speak up! I want that public option – medical expenses have decimated my financial health and the only kind of insurance I can afford now has a deductible of $2000. I understand the fear of the people in the crowds. There are days this year where I’ve been just about scared to death. I can see that fear on the face of the people in the town halls.

At first I honestly thought those meetings were entirely fake, but it seems now that the emotions being expressed by many of the people are real, but based on profound disinformation about the system under which they live. This disinformation is being deliberately fed to them by those who would profit from their ill health and debt.

That is why education is the most important issue in America today. We are seeing the results of decades of the under-education of large sectors of the public. It is much easier to manipulate the badly educated, who then become the pawns of those who don’t have their best interests at heart.

People need to understand that the same people denying them care under their current policies are feeding them propaganda like “it’s socialized medic$ine!” which somehow has an evil, anti-American feeling to it in the minds of those who would make a killing in medicine, if you’ll pardon the expression.

I would imagine a lot of the upset seniors have forgotten that the Medicare program which exists to protect them is a government program that could easily be considered “socialized medicine”. That’s one of the reasons always given for the benefits of its potential demise – it’s “socialized”! Have you ever wondered why it is that the word “socialized” gets such play, for conservatives, it is right up there in the A List of Buzzwords – “socialized”; gay marriage”; “liberal media”; “elitists” – words that are relied upon to generate a certain set of emotions in the people who hear them. Propaganda, I think that’s called.

When I see those poor people down at the town halls blindly working against their own best interests I am flummoxed. By God we get the government we deserve, and the failure of decent human civility at these meetings is absolutely disgusting to me. There has been enough investigative reporting shown on programs like “The Rachel Maddow Show” to let people know that corporate shills and GOP hacks – some of the same people that were involved in the 2000 Bush v. Gore “stop the re-count” organization – are stimulating, in a calculated, abhorrent fashion the most base and ugly aspects of mob mentality in this country.

Good work, boys. More of that “bully boy” mentality at work in this country and I do not like it. In fact, I don’t like much of what I’m seeing right now, and that has kept me quiet for a few weeks. One doesn’t wish to appear negative, but if all that one sees is the transformation of this country into a land of uneducated louts and easily stimulated rabble being goaded into violent action by greedy merchants and bought politicians – I’m starting to get a little angry myself.

I read today that Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), one of President Obama’s primary progressive allies in the Senate, has signaled that he is willing to compromise on the public option. WAIT JUST A DAMNED MINUTE!! NOBODY ASKED ME!! WAKE UP, EVERYONE!!! You are being fed lies and manipulated by a bunch of people who certainly do not have your best interests at heart.

I know the world is changing and it’s scary sometimes. However, the reason I am a Democrat is because this party has traditionally stood with the regular person. I learned this at my mother’s knee and I still believe it true. I also believe that this administration has the best interest of all of the classes of people in mind, and we haven’t seen that for a while. But the spin machines are powerful, and the news cycles are full of stories illustrating what effect the constant repetition of untruths will have on an untrained, susceptible mind. Perhaps it’s even easier to sway people during times of profound change.

Patrick and I have come to know a young man who has lived a very marginal life in our society through no fault of his own. His mother was and is addicted to methamphetamine and he does not know who his father was. He lived in foster homes for years and then after high school has had long periods of homelessness. As I have a brain chemistry disorder, it is fairly easy for me to spot another of my own kind, and this boy has some problems. He is wonderful – whip smart, charismatic, and somehow he has managed to raise himself despite so little support. He’s just turned 21, and is at a crucial time in his life. Without help, he could easily end up on a corner raving to people who turn away from him. What about that, people?

I bring him up for another reason than the obvious one that he is a clear and natural candidate for the public healthcare option. This kid is employed by what my mom used to call “reactionary Republicans” and are now known as neo-conservatives of the “Rush Limbaugh school of thoughtful policy.” To hear this formerly homeless youth rage against the “they” that are taking all of “our” money is hard to describe; it ranges between being hilariously, naively funny to being tragic, because I see this kid’s future, and without public healthcare of some sort he could be a needless casualty.

Despite the fact that I was sick every day of my adult life I raised two daughters, and I raised them well, if I may say so. I’m not a throwaway person. Neither is my young, formerly homeless friend. Don’t even get me started about the uninsured – I have been hearing shocking stories regarding hospitals in Southern California dumping patients with colostomy bags in the Skid Row of Los Angeles!

Our society treats illness with more greed than compassion, and the human results of that moral and policy failure gibber at us unintelligibly on the streets. Because of primarily GOP and Corporate interests, many people like me who haven’t had been protected by family or a noble ex-husband have lost their jobs, their homes, and in some cases, their sanity and their lives. What about these people? What about the lame, the sick and the halt? What about us?

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