I have been wanting to write about health care reform for several months, but I haven’t been able to do it. I still don’t think I can do it, but I suppose it’s worth a stab. Perhaps, if I put some of my anger here, I won’t have to shake and cry whenever I think about it.
No big secret that I’m ultra liberal politically. I hoped and prayed for universal health care when the Clinton administration tried to make it happen and was heartbroken when it didn’t go. At that time, I was in college studying sociology and pretty knowledgeable about how single-payer healthcare works in other first-world countries. I don’t get the fear. I mean, I get it; I understand where it comes from, and why, but I don’t come from the same place of mind. Plus, being knowledgeable about how single-payer healthcare actually works (as opposed to the fear-based arguments that come from the ads by the insurance lobby), I know that the arguments against it just don’t hold water. Seriously, health care rationing? Do people seriously think that that’s not happening now? The shrill voices that ring out the word socialism over and over and over again boggle my mind. As they say, though, the right has gained such a strong foothold in the US that, if we didn’t already have a public school system in place, we couldn’t pass the laws to create it today. Hence, miserable funding.
So if I was in favor of universal healthcare back during the Clinton administration, when I was a young woman in good health with no children, imagine how much more I want it now. Because Brian and I are crippled financially. There are quite a few reasons for that, the largest of which is that I don’t work due to Carter’s needs. But the fact that we spend nearly one-third of our income on healthcare is a very close second. When Obama took office, I really thought there was a chance that we could get some real relief. The gutless bill that’s in place now? Barely a start. Am I grateful that lifetime spending limits will become illegal? Of course. Should Carter require repeated hospitalizations in the future, the last thing we want to do is count days. But they could have done so much better, and if the far right hadn’t been so scared, we would have.
I won’t go on too much longer because I just can’t bear it. I’m not nearly as knowledgeable about this bill as I would typically be because, frankly, it hurts too much. I feel cheated. I feel like my country has said to me, to my child, to my family, that we don’t matter. We are disposable. My baby boy, my beautiful, suffering child does not matter. My nation chooses to build prison cells so that he can live in one of those someday, instead of helping us pay for his treatment today. They say I’m a bleeding heart and you know what? Hell yeah I am. If you think that’s a bad thing, I dare you to come over here and look in my boy’s face and tell him directly that he doesn’t count, doesn’t matter, might as well die as expect to have his nation help him get what he needs. Because when you Tweet, or speak on the floor of the House, or write a letter to the editor, and complain about the slippery slope toward socialism and how that’s the worst thing that could happen? That’s what you’re saying – to my Carter and to millions of others who can’t access the care they need.
Laissez-faire capitalism brought us the monopolies, the Vanderbilts and Carnegies and the ultra-concentration of wealth that left millions to suffer a life of bare subsistence. It won’t cure our health care system anymore than it inspired Vanderbilt (or, for that matter, the companies who now exploit labor in third world nations) to pay fair wages.