Daily Archives: January 20, 2011

Quick Hit: STFU

GAH!

Okay, let’s get something straight and settled, once and for all, shall we? We DO NOT live in Nazi Germany. Comparing anyone to Hitler or Goebbels is wrong, and as soon as you do it, you’ve lost any credibility you may have had, so STOP IT, ALL of you! Make your point – if, indeed, you have one – without invoking the Third Reich or the Holocaust.  Dazzle thinking people with your ability to be nuanced and articulate and to back your shit up with facts, not with false comparisons and fear mongering.

Honestly.

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Filed under concerns, doing my duty, duh!, dumbassery, frustrations, General Bitching, Holocaust Study and Outreach, ideas and opinions, politics

Thinking Thursday

Among all the finger-pointing that’s been going on politically for the last few weeks (months, years, whatever; it’s been going on for a while, really, but it’s gotten a lot more fun (not!) over the last few weeks), I’ve decided to point a finger, too.

At myself.

One of the things I’ve promised myself is that I’m going to be better informed about things that matter to me.  I don’t know that it’s going to matter a bit to the people who’ve already decided that I don’t know anything because I’m a bleeding-heart, lefty, pinko, frothing, hysterical, (and my favorite) evil progressive, but I don’t give a shit about those people anymore; I’ve come to accept that there are some people who are never going to be able to come to the table, and that it’s not my job to try to reason with them.  MY job is to educate myself, and I’m working pretty hard to do that.

One thing that I have always understood – ALWAYS – is that it is the very rare incident that is this or that, black or white, right or wrong.  There are precious few occasions where something is ALL good or ALL bad; most of our lives are lived in the spaces in between, and I think that may be where we’re falling short (though I suspect that’s another musing about our collective failure to think critically that’s best left for the teacher blog; watch that space).  I think we’ve forgotten how to accept a little bit of downside for a larger – or eventual – gain, and I don’t think that this is anywhere better illustrated than with the new health care law.

I’ve done some research, and I’m not at all surprised by what I’ve learned.  I tried to go to places where the information I’m getting is non-partisan, mostly because I am sick unto death of people telling me that my facts (which they put air quotes around) are left-biased.  Facts are facts.  Wrong information – that is, information which doesn’t square with the facts – is wrong.  Here’s what I’ve found:

According to the non-profit, non-partisan Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, here are five things that have already happened under the new Affordable Care Act:

1. Insurance coverage for young adults. The Affordable Care Act requires insurers and employers that offer dependent coverage to allow parents to include children up to age 26 on their insurance plans.  This year alone, 1.25 million young adults are expected to benefit (Chili says ONE POINT TWO FIVE MILLION, People!).  In the past, most insurance companies dropped children once they turned 19 or if they weren’t students.  That’s one reason why a third of all young adults lack insurance — a larger share than any other age group.

2. Free preventive care. Forty-two million seniors in Medicare and another roughly 41 million Americans with private insurance can now get free preventive health care services because the Affordable Care Act requires insurers to provide it.  Preventive care includes screenings for chronic illnesses like diabetes and cancer, vaccinations, and regular doctor visits.  Better access to preventive care will help millions of families with their budgets and likely produce other benefits, such as fewer unnecessary deaths from disease, less spending on costly and avoidable illnesses, and a healthier population overall (Chili says if my mom had had access to preventive care, I’m certain she’d still be alive today. She wasn’t able to afford screenings and regular preventive care, so by the time she was sick enough to suck it up and go to a doctor, she was already terminal, and that’s the truth. Just sayin’.).

3. Protections for children and adults with serious illnesses. The Affordable Care Act bars insurance companies from denying coverage to children with pre-existing health conditions like cancer, autism, or diabetes.  As a result, for the first time in most states, families with children with serious illnesses, chronic conditions, or special health care needs can buy coverage for their children in the individual health insurance market.

Also, insurers can no longer cut off care for people with serious illnesses who need expensive medical care.  The Affordable Care Act bars insurers from imposing “lifetime limits” on benefits.  Now, people who get cancer or another illness that requires expensive treatments won’t have to worry that their benefits will run out or that the expensive treatments will push them into bankruptcy — or worse, that coverage limits will prevent them from getting lifesaving care. (Chili says I work with kids. I know a lot of families who have kids with special health care needs; one of students has a heart condition for which she needs a pacemaker, and she’s had several surgeries. My point is that we ALL know people for whom this law is making a significant difference).

4. More affordable prescriptions for seniors. The Affordable Care Act has begun to close the “doughnut hole,” the gap in Medicare prescription drug coverage that many seniors experience for drug costs beyond their first $2,840 but before additional coverage kicks in when their costs hit $6,448.

Before the Affordable Care Act, seniors paid 100 percent of prescription drug costs within the doughnut hole.  Last year, seniors received a $250 payment under the Affordable Care Act to help with these costs.  This year, seniors are getting even more help — a 50 percent discount on brand-name prescription drugs and a 7 percent discount on generic prescription drugs while they are in the coverage gap.  The law will close the entire doughnut hole by 2020. (Chili says I’ve got a grandma. Do you have a grandma? If not, do you know one? ARE you one? These are provisions that are going to affect everyone, directly or indirectly, and just because this particular benefit may not matter to you now, I wish you a life sufficiently long enough that, someday, it will.)

5. Tax credits to help small businesses buy coverage for their employees. Starting last year, an estimated 4 million small businesses, covering as many as 16.6 million employees, became eligible for a tax credit under the Affordable Care Act to help offset the cost of buying health coverage.  It costs small businesses much more than larger firms to provide health insurance with comparable benefits, both because they have higher administrative costs and because small businesses with older or sicker workers pay higher premiums.  The tax credit will help small businesses that are struggling to provide coverage to their workers and encourage more small businesses to offer coverage. (Chili says I work for a small business. Right now, we have no health care provisions. None. The only way literally ANY of us is able to have health care is because we already had it (and the boss – the director of the frickin’ school – is entirely uninsured… and so are her two teenaged children). While I’ll continue to access my health care through my husband’s employer, it may well be that someday, I’ll need my small business to provide health care for me. This matters.)

I heard this on my local NPR station today, and I’m pretty convinced that the noise that we’re hearing about this onerous and destructive this bill is so much bullshit.  Is it perfect?  No; nothing is.  Is it better than what we had before this bill was passed?  Even if no other good comes from it than the five things that I listed above, I give it a resounding YES.

So many of us are one accident or one illness away from bankruptcy.  I have some personal experience with chronic (and fatal) diseases with no health care, and I have seen how little time it takes for someone to be completely devastated – really, a couple of rounds of chemo and a few MRIs are enough to do it, and forget long-term, skilled care; unless you’ve got some serious coverage, that ain’t happening, and you’d better have some loving family with flexible schedules if you expect to have any comfort at all as you end your life.

Sorry.  Got a little bitter there.

I’d like to end with this.  I know it’s not non-partisan, but I think that Anthony Weiner of New York is spot-on with this.  Some things are true.  Some things are not true.  Let’s all stop making stuff up.

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Filed under compassion and connection, doing my duty, dumbassery, fiction, frustrations, General Bitching, health, Home and Family, learning, on death and dying, politics, social issues, technical difficulties, this is NOT a drill, weirdness, Worries and Anxieties, WTF?!