This is my first blog anywhere, but I can't resist injecting some truthtelling into the hyperpartisan blather and hypocritical public hand-wringing from the Right about the Obamacare website. Boo hoo the conservative plan for universal health care is experiencing glitches during roll-out because it is so much more complicated than a public option, and every roadblock conservatives could inject into the mix is having its intended effects. Boo hoo hoo.
Let's get real for a moment. My 30-something nephew and his new partner dropped by our house last Thursday. They were passing through town, needed some money, and she needed someplace to lie down. She was very sick and irritable with a low-grade fever – she might have had a miscarriage, and she seems to be living with some mental health challenges – we weren’t certain what all was going on, but we were very concerned. She wouldn't go to a hospital or clinic to get checked out – I later found out it was because she doesn't have any health insurance, and was trying to avoid another expense she can't afford. She hasn’t been to a doctor in many years, so any health challenges she has are completely undiagnosed and untreated. So early Saturday morning, I logged onto healthcare.gov, was forwarded to the California Health Exchange (coveredca.com), and in 30 minutes had her signed up for the same prevention-oriented HMO health system that I get with my $60,000/year job. Except she works only 32 hours per week for minimum wage plus $10/hour in tips, and with her subsidy it will only cost her $69/month. (I choose the “bronze” HMO plan to make it more likely she’ll keep up with the payments. It is still the same system I get, and they have a good reputation for wrap-around services that might be important to her if she does indeed live with mental illness.)
I know other members of my family – including those who wear “family values” on their sleeves if not their hearts – would have focused on setting boundaries with these relatives. Keep her out of the house because she’s too much drama. Limit what money you give him so he doesn’t “take advantage” even though he is dying from lung cancer at 32, has Type I diabetes, and is having trouble keeping up with his bills and supporting his two kids now that he can’t work anymore. I’m planning a wedding and want to buy a house, my partner is too disabled to work, but my family values don’t allow me to ignore suffering in my household or in my extended family defined generously. My respect for life is not about forcing women to give birth on my terms, but more about universal access to primary, behavioral, and mental health care. I know most people are homeless not out of moral deficiency but because they live with untreated mental illness, they live in a society better at incarcerating than educating, their families have been separated by a broken immigration system and a failed war on drugs, and that substance abuse is often a consequence of homelessness and not the cause. I know all this because I take the Bible too seriously to take it literally, really do respect the sanctity of all life, and I’m not afraid to seek the truth even when it challenges my beliefs.
I understand why somebody is afraid to seek medical care if how much it will cost and who will pay is in question. My ex-Marine partner is still paying the $1300 racked up when the VA didn’t cover an emergency room visit when I was on a business trip and couldn’t drive him 60 miles into San Francisco for services when he had an allergic reaction to new medicine; he is on permanent disability and was too ill to navigate public transportation, and his traumatic brain injury makes him unable to drive.
Thank God and the Democrats who care enough to endure the ceaseless partisan struggle to make this all possible. Obamacare is already working right now in states that supported it by taking responsibility to set up their own exchanges, like here in California, and things will continue to get better as they did with all similar roll-outs. And starting in January, my niece can go to a single location and receive what she needs to stay healthy and connected to loved ones – doctors, nurses, therapists, medicines, support groups, etc. – rather than endure the unemployment, incarceration, isolation and homelessness that often accompanies untreated mental illness. It would have been difficult to identify sliding-fee or no-cost health services for her outside private insurance. Now we have a single website for all that, and it was awesomely easy. After 30 minutes of light work on my part, my niece has a brighter future with Obamacare to the rescue.
I honestly don’t understand how people who claim to be pro-life are so intent on denying my niece access to health services through this plan, and have nothing to replace what they repeal. I don’t understand how they live moral lives that don’t include examination of the consequences of their actions towards others in terms of the human suffering and death they cause. They just don’t care.
They simply just don’t give a damn if they can make up an excuse for not caring, and they are so clever at judging others to be inferior and undeserving. Shame on them.
Sun Dec 08, 2013 at 4:27 PM PT: If anyone is still following my little story, our last level of worry is passed: the insurance agency sent the bill, my nephew paid it, and my niece's coverage begins January 1.
This was my first post, and I apologize for any undue defensiveness on my part to some replies - it seemed like some people were making sport of the topic, ignoring the real implications for people's lives. For religious reasons, I also have great personal repulsion against hypocrisy. I have my own personal history of serious health challenges; in spite of my advanced education, I have been homeless and destitute, and I know the personal shame of being reliant on family for help at times when life otherwise has ripped apart at the seams. So I can really feel the pain of others who are sick, poor, and destitute. And I thank God (and the providers and taxpayers of San Francisco!) that I got the mental and behavioral healthcare I needed to get back on track, and a good job to cement my recovery in place and find meaning in my trauma by helping others with theirs. I found my redemption.
So I take it somewhat personally when I see some deny others a chance to get back on track. That is what happens when people lose access to comprehensive health services. That is what people are taking away when they talk idly or passionately about repealing the Affordable Care Act, and don't bother to replace it with anything viable: they take away the option for redemption and life, and replace it with suffering and death and excuses. No amount of religious self-delusion can deny that plain truth, or hide the hypocrisy of failing to acknowledge that their works don't match their words regarding the sanctity of life and valuing families.