On Health Care

A single-payer plan would be a plan like Medicare for all, or the kind of plan that they have in Canada, where basically government is the only person — is the only entity that pays for all health care.  Everybody has a government-paid-for plan, even though in, depending on which country, the doctors are still private or the hospitals might still be private.  In some countries, the doctors work for the government and the hospitals are owned by the government.  But the point is, is that government pays for everything, like Medicare for all.  That is a single-payer plan.

via Obama’s healthcare townhall transcript — remarks, audience questions | Top of the Ticket | Los Angeles Times.

The first letter I ever wrote about health care was in 1996. It was addressed to Senator Diane Feinstein. I was 13, and working on a letter writing campaign with my father to help prevent the closure of LAC-USC Medical Center. I was able to convince my teacher to get my entire class to write letters.

When I taught high school in South L.A., the closure of the King-Drew Medical Center was imminent. I taught that, too. My math students looked at budgets. My journalism students read news articles. And I wrote more letters.

I have not dedicated my life to public health like my father has, but watching him for my entire life, I have seen and understood the importance of it. Living with sick family members, I have felt the pain of inflated drug prices and ridiculous add-on elements such as oxygen tanks and ambulance rides.  I have struggled finding insurance during two periods of unemployment.

I fully support a single-payer system. Not because I am a socialist, but because it is the right thing to do. Health care should not be another capitalized opportunity to further stratify an already-segregated society.

When I hear someone like Sarah Palin say “death squad” and all of her cronies supporting her absurd claims, I am literally sickened. Not because it’s an absurd attempt to slander a plan that doesn’t even fully cover the needs of all Americans. I am sickened because her description of someone deciding whether or not her Down’s Syndrome child is a productive member of society, is exactly, exactly what the current system does every single day.

A stratified system is a death squad by its nature.

It decides who gets quality care and who gets less-than quality or no care.

It decides who gets to see a doctor and who does not.

It decides who benefits from technological advances in medicine and who does not.

It decides who gets preventive care and who does not.

It decides who gets to live and die.

And for those who get to live, it gets to decide the quality of life received.

So, that death panel that gets to sit around and decide who lives and who dies? Take a look at our current system. Looks like a death panel to me.

And for the record, panels are common. Diseases require specialization. And specialization often requires multiple levels of care. And multiple levels of care require discussions. So, before you start spewing your Republican, capitalistic venom all over the country, take a look at all successful hospitals.

I have said before that I think the core of our problem lies in the drug companies, and I still believe that. They run health care in this country. The only way to get past that is with true, full government regulation.

Socialization. Fair. Humane. Whatever you want to call it. That’s what we need. We need a not-for-profit system which has one goal and one goal alone: to keep people healthy and provide for an equitable quality of life for all Americans.

I commend President Obama for trying to push through the public option. I really do.

The problem is that’s not what I voted for. Someone rightly referred to Obama’s support of the single-payer system in the past. A system that he wrote extensively about. I voted for that.

At the same time, I fully support progress. I think a public option is an excellent step in the right direction.

An excellent first step.

I just don’t think we should rest until a universal plan is the final step and all people are cared for exactly the same way.

You should not be able to use money to make your physical quality of living better simply because capitalism says you can.

We need to stop. It’s enough that education and jobs and opportunities are determined by wealth. More than enough. And conservatives should rest in that knowledge.

But, I say no. You cannot, must not continue to make health care something that can be bought.

Your life is no more precious than mine.

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Why I'm Not Impressed with the Seniors' Drug Agreement

So as part of the health care reform I expect Congress to enact this year, Medicare beneficiaries whose spending falls within this gap will now receive a discount on prescription drugs of at least 50 percent from the negotiated price their plan pays.  It’s a reform that will make prescription drugs more affordable for millions of seniors, and restore a measure of fairness to Medicare Part D.    It’s a reflection of the importance of this single step for America’s seniors that it has earned the support of AARP, which has been fighting for years to address this anomaly in the system on behalf of older Americans.  AARP is committed, as I am, to achieving health care reform by the end of this year.  And I’m committed to continuing to work with AARP to ensure that any reforms we pursue are carried out in a way that protects America’s seniors, who know as well as anyone what’s wrong with our health care system and why it’s badly in need of reform.
Our goal — our imperative — is to reduce the punishing inflation in health care costs while improving patient care.  And to do that we’re going to have to work together to root out waste and inefficiencies that may pad the bottom line of the insurance industry, but add nothing to the health of our nation.   To that end, the pharmaceutical industry has committed to reduce its draw on the health care system by $80 billion over the next 10 years as part of overall health care reform.

The White House – Blog Post – A Significant Breakthrough to Assist Our Seniors.

I am highly disappointed to read the provisions of this portion of the health care “reform” that was announced today.

What President Obama understands as outlined in several things he’s written, most notably “The Audacity of Hope”, is that true drug reform in this country is only going to come through stringent regulations placed on the pharmaceutical companies. While I understand that these companies have a wealth of power because they have a wealth of income, it’s really time to take a stand. It’s time for a politician to stand up against Pfizer, Bristol Myers, Procter & Gamble, Amgen and all of their counterparts. It’s time for someone to have the courage to say that these band-aid fixes simply aren’t enough.

The drug companies get off so easy with this agreement they have made.

First, a majority of seniors don’t even use Medicare D. For a variety of reasons, Medicare D has just not caught on. They either don’t understand it, have alternate coverage or can’t afford it. So, the total percentage of the American population who are benefiting from this agreement is probably minuscule.

Second, drugs that are most popular with seniors are also popular with other age groups. So, the chances are that these pharmaceutical companies are going to make plenty of money off the same drugs without even considering those prescriptions filled by seniors. Meanwhile, they get to look like the good guys while shipping off these 50% checks to Medicare. So, now they have a few good years where they get to say “remember when we gave you 50%??” Heck, it might last for the whole Obama administration. Bad, bad move, Mr. President.

Third, as a person who lived with an elderly uncle, delivered prescriptions to my great-grandmother, and has grandparents who all had various prescriptions to fill, I can tell you for certain that a half price discount is not nearly enough to make the extremely over-inflated drugs affordable. In the case of my grandparents, you can’t tell me that reducing their monthly prescription needs from $900 to $450 is going to help. Guess what? They don’t have the $450 either.

We are again at the root of many of the major problems in this country: corporate greed.

Health care and medicine are not the places to make a profit. Not at the cost of someone’s life. Next time you pick up a prescription, note the full price. The last prescription, I picked up for myself had a sticker price of $472. I paid $32, but I will tell you without a shadow of a doubt that even working full time, there’s no way I would have been able to pay half price for those antibiotics.

The true, true reform is going to lie in standing up to these pharmaceutical companies, providing public financing and requiring them to sell drugs AT-COST to the American people. So all people, not just seniors, can benefit from a true reform agreement that does not penalize people for illness, genetic defects, terminal illness, or accidents.

Until that moment, I will not be impressed. I will not rally behind this “reform.” And, I will not say this is progress.

President Obama in Cairo

This is a speech that I have been waiting for since President Obama spoke for the second time at AIPAC about a year ago. I sat, watching that speech because it was one of those moments where I thought I just might hear something different.

I was totally blown away by his acknowledgment of the right of the Palestinian people to have their own land. It was then that I knew that should he become President international relations would be rooted in an entirely different mentality, one of open-mindedness and thought. One of compassion and equity. One of genuine concern and value for human rights.

So long as our relationship is defined by our differences, we will empower those who sow hatred rather than peace, those who promote conflict rather than the cooperation that can help all of our people achieve justice and prosperity.  And this cycle of suspicion and discord must end.

Speaking with Brian Williams, he said that he did not believe he was the only President who could make this speech. He’s probably correct, but he is the only President in the recent past who has the ability to speak honestly and with conviction and authority about issues of integration of ideas and thoughts. With fresh ideas and a beautiful optimism that characterizes his administration. It is not an optimism of naivete, but one deeply rooted in history and belief in the true goodness of not only the American people but in humanity at large.

As a student of history, I also know civilization’s debt to Islam.  It was Islam — at places like Al-Azhar — that carried the light of learning through so many centuries, paving the way for Europe’s Renaissance and Enlightenment.  It was innovation in Muslim communities — (applause) — it was innovation in Muslim communities that developed the order of algebra; our magnetic compass and tools of navigation; our mastery of pens and printing; our understanding of how disease spreads and how it can be healed.  Islamic culture has given us majestic arches and soaring spires; timeless poetry and cherished music; elegant calligraphy and places of peaceful contemplation.  And throughout history, Islam has demonstrated through words and deeds the possibilities of religious tolerance and racial equality.  (Applause.)

President Obama’s delivery and his willingness to address Afghanistan and Iraq and 9-11 is simply the right thing to do. There is an ugly American legacy in this world right now. It is not President Obama’s personal responsibility to apologize for it anymore than it is mine. Yet, it is. As citizens of a country that has acted recklessly without concern for the safety of others that we seek in our own country, we have a responsibility to say that it is a new day. That the America of yesterday is not the America of today.

On the other hand, it is also undeniable that the Palestinian people — Muslims and Christians — have suffered in pursuit of a homeland.  For more than 60 years they’ve endured the pain of dislocation.  Many wait in refugee camps in the West Bank, Gaza, and neighboring lands for a life of peace and security that they have never been able to lead.  They endure the daily humiliations — large and small — that come with occupation.  So let there be no doubt:  The situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable.  And America will not turn our backs on the legitimate Palestinian aspiration for dignity, opportunity, and a state of their own.  (Applause.)

For decades then, there has been a stalemate:  two peoples with legitimate aspirations, each with a painful history that makes compromise elusive.  It’s easy to point fingers — for Palestinians to point to the displacement brought about by Israel’s founding, and for Israelis to point to the constant hostility and attacks throughout its history from within its borders as well as beyond.  But if we see this conflict only from one side or the other, then we will be blind to the truth:  The only resolution is for the aspirations of both sides to be met through two states, where Israelis and Palestinians each live in peace and security.

It is with gratitude that I quote those words. For the right of every people, regardless of religion or race, to have their own land in which to govern and live and worship their God, is so undeniably basic that it is incomprehensible that a nation would stand in denial of that right. This is not to say that it would be a simple change or progression. No, it is a goal that will require much work, but includes the commitment of a President who believes deeply in this goal.

Too many tears have been shed.  Too much blood has been shed.  All of us have a responsibility to work for the day when the mothers of Israelis and Palestinians can see their children grow up without fear; when the Holy Land of the three great faiths is the place of peace that God intended it to be; when Jerusalem is a secure and lasting home for Jews and Christians and Muslims, and a place for all of the children of Abraham to mingle peacefully together as in the story of Isra — (applause) — as in the story of Isra, when Moses, Jesus, and Mohammed, peace be upon them, joined in prayer.  (Applause.)

And this segment of President Obama’s speech was so deeply moving. It was one rooted in the history of three faiths. It is rooted in an understanding, in an ability to embrace things that are different. That is the beauty, the humbling beauty, of this presidency. It is rooted in a tolerance that is ingrained so deeply in the basic desire to accept that there are many different avenues in this life and all must be respected.

But we have a responsibility to join together on behalf of the world that we seek — a world where extremists no longer threaten our people, and American troops have come home; a world where Israelis and Palestinians are each secure in a state of their own, and nuclear energy is used for peaceful purposes; a world where governments serve their citizens, and the rights of all God’s children are respected.  Those are mutual interests.  That is the world we seek.  But we can only achieve it together.

It sounds like Utopia. Simply Utopia. Grandslam, Mr. President. Grandslam.

Randomosity

I’ve picked up “The Biggest Loser Weight Loss Yoga,” and I’m almost certain that it’s going to do me in. It’s funny but I can already feel the effects. Soreness and some actual muscle forming.

I also picked up Kathy Smith’s Weightlifting exercise thing. Another brutal workout. It kind of makes me think that perhaps I just enjoy pain. (Not really.)

I’ve made a pledge to myself to get in two workouts a day. Don’t know how long I’m intending to keep that up, but it’s been five days so far.

The overzealous working out is an attempt to cut back on caffeine. It’s failing miserably because I don’t like headaches.

I’ve started crocheting. It’s really my attempt to make myself get away from this gosh-darn computer for some time. I realize that I’m probably going to develop arthritis because of it.

I’ve launched another blog that is totally unrelated to this one.

I walked 2.7 miles round trip today. It was part of my exercise for the day, but also a lot of fun. I like walking around in my own little world.

I realllllllly, really miss being a teacher. Like it hurts.

I love baseball. I know that’s a given. But I really love the game. It makes me super happy. I realized that again last night when I was driving home from a game.

My dreams last night about a certain person were totally unnerving. I thought perhaps something not so great was going to happen today, but it didn’t. And the day is almost over, so that’s good news.

I fell in love with Rahm Emanuel today. For real. Political crushes. Wow. That’s a first. (Ok, not really, but it sounds weird to say I have a crush on the President of the United States. There’s just something inherently wrong with that sentence.)

I had one of those moments the other day when I had to stop and catch my breath. I actually watched Barack Obama be inaugurated as President of the United States. I still can’t verbalize how utterly amazing that was.

Juan Pierre. Write him in. 71 times. Seriously.

I feel bad for Clayton Kershaw. I really do. I could have told you in spring training that he was not ready. So, to punish him for what probably every one knew, is just not a good idea.

I have text stalkers. I don’t care if people read this. It’s not funny. Not in the least. So, if I don’t respond to you, it’s probably because I’m trying to ignore other people.

My wall looks funny without all the post-its.

I found this fabulous way of doing fan-fiction through Facebook. I was mesmerized for awhile, but I have let it slip.

June Gloom has hit with a vengeance. It’s not fun. Not at all.

And yet….I still have awaken every morning thinking something good was going to happen. And it has without fail….

Things your mother told you not to do

One of my favorite things about President Obama is that he does all kinds of things that we’re (at least I) are told not to do. Saying “I won” was a big one for me. Scrapping a zillion dollars of education to work in an impoverished area was a close second. Getting a dog. It’s fun stuff.

BUT this by far is my favorite moment thus far:

Obama Tipping His Chair Back
Obama Tipping His Chair Back

CALLIE SHELL / AURORA FOR TIME

I was told throughout my childhood not to tip my chair back. I still do it (oops!), but I LOVE this shot of Obama tipping his chair back in anticipation of a meeting!