It’s a Matter of Life and Death

Neil Gaiman tweeted a link to this article recently.  It’s about a young woman who died, alone and in pain, of a heart attack, because she didn’t have health insurance.

As imperfect as the Affordable Care Act is, it’s a step closer to ensuring that people like Melissa don’t die so needlessly.  And I’d rather see us take that step forward than make no move at all.  I’d rather see us make progress toward the day when there are no more tragedies like this.  We need to start somewhere.

It’s a matter of life and death.

It’s Not That Easy Addendum

Saw this at Digby’s after I’d written the previous post:

All over TV today, I’m hearing the gasbags fret about the fact that Obama hasn’t brought up gun control. It’s a good question, but they know the answer to it very well: the Democrats have given up that issue, the only problem is that the Republicans refuse to accept their surrender. They have nothing more to say about it.

I’m more curious about why they aren’t all over this:

Gov. Jan Brewer’s plan to roll back state Medicaid coverage would leave thousands of Arizona’s most mentally fragile without health care. 

An estimated 5,200 people diagnosed with a serious mental illness and thousands more who qualify for other behavioral-health services would be among 280,000 childless adults losing health-care coverage under the governor’s plan.

But, Jan sez, she’ll allocate $10 mil or so to cover psych meds.  Well, that’s nice, Jan.  Too bad you’re cutting out all the other services that go along with the meds.  You don’t seem to realize that it’s not just a matter of chucking pills down people’s throats.  Meds have to be prescribed, they have to be monitored, they have to be adjusted, they stop working and have to be changed, above all they have to be taken.  Funny thing about mental illness, paranoid people often won’t swallow the pills you hand them.

Without intensive monitoring, without counseling appointments, and without a support system that will help these poor ill people get well enough to achieve some level of function, you might as well be hosing them down with homeopathy for all the good it will do.

Just like with transplants, Jan Brewer doesn’t get it.  Jan Brewer doesn’t care.  That’s the takeaway lesson here, people: do not get sick in Arizona, because Jan Brewer doesn’t care if you suffer and die.  She and her merry band of fucktards do not believe the great state of Arizona needs to waste its money on you.

Suzanne left a comment on the last installment I want to make sure all of you see:

very well said dana. in the past, i’ve had to try to navigate the california mental health system for family and friends in addition to my experiences on the pd.

even before the draconian cuts that have happened in ca, the cops had to determine that the person was (1) a danger to themselves (suicidal); or (2) a danger to others (homicidal); or (3) gravely disabled (ie dementia/alzheimer) in order to place an involuntary 72 hour psychiatric hold. the patient would then be transported by ambulance to the county contracted mental health facility where the docs would either agree or disagree.

more times than i can recount, if ya didn’t have good insurance, that 72 hour hold was ignored the patient would be discharged early — many times later that same day.

it is heartbreaking what is happening to our safety net in the country.

its not that easy — and it is being made harder and harder each and every day.

And that was in California, which according to some was a socialist paradise.

If you want to see what the Republican ideal of health care is, watch Arizona.  And consider carefully whether that’s what you want for this country the next time you go to the ballot box.

Imaginary Death Panels vs. The Real Deal

I’ve been trying for several days now to figure out how to capture my outrage in words, but it’s impossible to do it.  Let’s just say that if I ever get a chance to do it, I will gladly punch Arizona’s political overlords in the face.

The same pieces of shit who have no problem going on and on about imaginary death panels in order to defeat health care reform also have no problem with creating death panels of their own (h/t):

The only political effort to implement death panels since Obama got his health reform bill passed has been in the state of Arizona. There the Republican-controlled legislature with the approval of GOP Governor Jan “there are headless bodies turning up all over our desert” Brewer has told 98 people waiting for transplants that they must die.
Those 98, who are either poor or uninsurable by private insurance due to pre-existing conditions, need bone marrow, lung, heart, and other forms of transplants. They were told by the state’s Medicaid program—Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, or AHCCCS—that they qualified for coverage. But, this October 1, AHCCCS said it could not in fact pay for their transplants. Facing a billion-dollar-plus budget deficit, the Arizona legislature cut out all state funding for transplantation retroactively!
This means that people who were told they had a chance at life had the rug pulled out from under them without any warning. The Republican legislature not only acted as a death panel; it chose to balance the budget on the backs of the poorest and most desperate of Arizonians by welshing on a promise.
Just to be clear, the legislature and governor did not say there would be no more transplant funding going forward. They said they are telling those to whom coverage has already been promised to drop dead.

I hope Arizonans have the decency to realize just what kind of murderous assclowns they’ve elected, and remedy that the next time they go to the ballot box.  Otherwise, my old home state will gain a deserved reputation as the worst place in America to live.  Jan Brewer & Co. seem intent on proving that when it comes to treading on the poor and immigrants, nobody stomps harder than they do.  Once suspects she and her cronies rather enjoy the sound of bones breaking under their boots.

This, America, is what it looks like when the modern Cons get their way.  This is what they think this country should be.  If it doesn’t horrify you, then there is no trace of morality or decency left in your shriveled little soul.

Shoes on Other Feet and So Forth

Oh, the humanity!  Poor Andy Harris.  He’s discovering two important things: that guvmint-run health care is a desirable thing, and that gaps in coverage suck (h/t):

A conservative Maryland physician elected to Congress on an anti-Obamacare platform surprised fellow freshmen at a Monday orientation session by demanding to know why his government-subsidized health care plan from the government takes a month to kick in.

Republican Andy Harris, an anesthesiologist who defeated freshman Democrat Frank Kratovil on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, reacted incredulously when informed that federal law mandated that his government-subsidized health care policy would take effect on Feb. 1 – 28 days after his Jan. 3rd swearing-in.

“He stood up and asked the two ladies who were answering questions why it had to take so long, what he would do without 28 days of health care,” said a congressional staffer who saw the exchange.

Awww, poor baby.  Somebody call the waambulance – only he can’t afford it, cuz he ain’t got coverage.  Oh, the outrage!

Harris, a Maryland state senator who works at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore and several hospitals on the Eastern Shore, also told the audience, “This is the only employer I’ve ever worked for where you don’t get coverage the first day you are employed,” his spokeswoman Anna Nix told POLITICO.

Well, ain’t he special?  I’ve never yet had the joy of working at a job where I don’t have a waiting period for coverage.  Even my union-negotiated insurance didn’t kick in until I’d been employed for 60 or 90 days – I don’t remember quite which, because I was just so damned happy the company had a physician’s assistant on the premises I could make use of immediately.  Came in useful when I had that ear infection that nearly turned serious.  Without them, I’d have let it go until it became critical, because as I mentioned before, I wouldn’t have insurance for months.

All in the audience who’ve either had to endure a waiting period or no coverage at all, please raise your hands.  Yup.  It’s what I thought – there are a fuck of a lot of us.

Maybe someone who knows how to do such things should start an online petition for Andy.  Maybe he’d feel better about having a waiting period for his government-run insurance to kick in if he knew all us peons working for private companies have to wait even longer for crap insurance that costs a fortune and, before the evil Obamacare law passed, could drop us like a hot rock at the first sign of our coming down with something expensive. 

And don’t forget to remind Andy at every conceivable opportunity just how ironic it is that the man who hates guvmint-run health care so can’t bloody wait to get himself some.

A Shout-Out to Evergreen and Union-Negotiated Health Insurance

Wednesday was fun.  About half an hour into my shift, the mild discomfort I’d been feeling announced itself as a full-blown kidney stone.  I’m prone to the bastards, and apparently the one that had announced its existence a few months ago didn’t so much pass as await a better opportunity.  Anyone who’s had these before knows it’s an exquisite form of agony.  Sometimes, it’s only moderate torture, and you can ride it out with the proper swear words.  But since I can’t scream profanities at work, I decided a trip to the ER for some nice happy drugs was in order.

Now, I’ve been to a lot of hospitals for these stupid things.  I’ve had to wait in the waiting room for hours before getting a doctor, and been put through the excitement of having to register before being seen.  The last thing you want to do while your kidney feels like it’s simultaneously imploding and exploding after being blowtorched is answer questions about your insurance.  I wasn’t looking forward to it.

But when I got to Evergreen Hospital‘s ER, a gentleman zipped out to meet me, whisked me back for a blood pressure and temp check, slapped the plastic bracelet on, and said they’d call me right back.  I don’t think the whole thing took more than five minutes.  I had time to call my intrepid companion and alert him to the fact I’d need a ride home, and then they were ushering me right to an exam room.  I’d barely gotten the gown on before a nurse was there – with bad news.  They had to check for blood in ye olde urine before they’d start the good drugs.  This, I thought, would take ages.  But no – about fifteen minutes after producing a sample, she was back with the great good news that I did, indeed, have a stone, and it was time for the blessed relief.  Wasn’t her fault that just as she was putting the IV in, the damned thing passed.  All that drama for naught.

The ER doc, who is one of the sweetest people I’ve ever met, decided we’d best ensure the little bugger wasn’t just playing possum, so we waited a bit.  He sent me home a little over an hour later with a prescription for the good stuff and an apology for taking so long with the discharge papers – they were horribly busy.

You never would have guessed it from the speed with which they handled my case, start to finish.  That place is amazing.  I wish every hospital could have an ER that functioned so smoothly.  And it’s one of the only hospitals I know of that sends someone in to get you registered only after you’re no longer in agony.

In fact, they left me feeling so good (even without drugs, hee hee) that I went back to work for the rest of the evening.

They did a fantastic job, they’ve got a wonderful hospital with an exceptional staff, and they deserve recognition for the tremendous work they do.  So, my dear Evergreen: thank you from the bottom of my heart (and my kidney)!

And there’s another reason I’m telling you about my ridiculous little medical woes: it points up the value of good health insurance.  Everyone in this country should be able to have the experience I had.  When the pain hit, I didn’t have to suffer.  My union-negotiated health care’s got me covered (theoretically, anyway).  So well, in fact, that when I checked out, there wasn’t even a copay. 

Now, single-payer would be a fuck of a lot better – I wouldn’t have had to do that frantic little do-I-or-don’t-I-have-my-insurance-card-on-me check.  But having good insurance is certainly the next-best thing.  We’re on our way to that with the Affordable Care Act.  No, it’s not going to be perfect at first.  Yes, insurers will kick up a fuss and try to wriggle out of their obligations and in general make this as miserable as possible.  Cons will try to tear the law down rather than building it up, and too many “moderate” Dems will be more than happy to help them with the wrecking ball.  But if we, the sick and those who could get sick without prior notice, keep the pressure for a better health care system on, it won’t just be the union members and other suck lucky folk who have good coverage.  We can take this Act and build on it.

So, thanks to my union for ensuring I’m well-insured.  And thanks to those who had the courage to vote for the first steps to ensuring the whole country’s well-insured.  That’s the first skirmish won – keep fighting for more!

Finally, huge thanks to my intrepid companion, who stood by ready to drive my loopy self home if they’d had to pump me full of painkillers, and who even cleaned out his car, and let me ruin his afternoon plans, just so he could be told his services weren’t necessary.  Friends like that are solid gold.  I can’t ever express in words how much he means to me, and I suck at performance art, so a simple “Thanks, man” will just have to symbolize the whole.

Yes They Could

They did it.  At long last, we have health care reform.  We’ve begun.  Now we have a foundation, imperfect as it is, that can be built upon.

Drinks on the house tonight, my darlings.  And make sure Cujo gets a few stiff ones, as he won’t be a happy puppy tonight.  As for the rest of us, I do believe some drunken debauchery is in order.

Oh, and Republicans?  Ha ha ha fuck you!  That is all.

Outrageous Bullshit Double-Header

The Muse knows I am fuming, and has graciously allowed me to post another post.

First, absorb this bit of reality and see if you’re steamed enough to power a freight train:

We learned a few years ago that the CIA had video documenting the interrogation of two Qaeda operatives who’d been subjected to “severe interrogation techniques,” but because of what the video showed, the agency destroyed the tapes. In effect, officials had evidence of a possible crime, so they eliminated it — which is itself a crime.
Within a few weeks of the revelations, Bush’s Justice Department appointed a prosecutor to lead a criminal investigation into the destruction of evidence.
What we didn’t know until today is that a far-right senator, Pat Roberts (R) of Kansas, acting his capacity as chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, was apparently made aware of the alleged crimes in a closed briefing in 2003, and raised no objections.

That’s right.  This fucktarded piece of shit has no problem with crimes being committed.  None.  No problem, cover it up.  And we’re not talking minor shit, we’re talking war crimes.

These people aren’t amoral so much as anti-moral. 

Meanwhile, John Yoo, he of the torture memos, has decided the Prez can use nukes any ol’ time he likes.  No limits on his power to destroy civilizations whatsoever.  Totally fine with the Constitution, despite the fact the Constitution’s all about the checks and balances, and despite the fact that Supreme Court precedent sez executive powers tain’t so unlimited.  Observe:

As far back as 1804, a unanimous Supreme Court held in Little v. Barreme that Congress has sweeping authority to limit the President’s actions in wartime. That case involved an Act of Congress authorizing vessels to seize cargo ships bound for French ports. After the President also authorized vessels to seize ships headed away from French ports, the Supreme Court held this authorization unconstitutional on the grounds that Congress’ decision to allow one kind of seizure implicitly forbade other kinds of seizure. More recently, in Hamdi v. Rumsfeld and Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, the Court held that the President does not have the power to unilaterally set military policy (in those cases with respect to detention); he must comply with statutory limits on his power. Taken together, these and other cases unquestionably establish that Congress has the power to tell the President “no,” and the President must listen.
John Yoo is a moral vacuum, but he is also a constitutional law professor at one of the nation’s top law schools and a former Supreme Court clerk. It is simply impossible that Yoo is not aware of Little, Hamdi and Hamdan, or that he does not understand what they say. So when John Yoo claims that the President is not bound by Congressional limits, he is not simply ignorant or misunderstanding the law. He is lying.

Indeed he is.  Lying about the law, and yet Berkeley believes he’s qualified to teach law.  I’ll never, ever, understand that one.

Bonus outrages: selling plates of pasta to save your life (thank you, broken health care industry!) and the Cons’ idea of a bipartisan dialogue on health care reform.  Maybe we should hold a pasta fundraiser to see if we can whip up enough cash to get these idiots some brains.