Life continues to challenge those of us with chronic illnesses. It was too much to ask for, having a tooth extracted and an implant implanted without a major infection. So my face looks crooked, with only half a smile while the other half is blown up like a balloon and throbbing. A butcher of an oral surgeon sliced it open yesterday, but it didn't drain enough, so I will be back at the usual oral surgeon (who was off yesterday) today to see if he can resolve this infection. It sure does hurt -- especially to eat even soft food. Just what I needed a week before I travel to Los Angeles. I just hope it heals quickly.
So now you know why I didn't blog yesterday. But before I go any further, I must thank Tyler Perry and, of course, Ozzie, Jen, and Tony, for arranging for us to visit backstage on Saturday night. I learned a lot, actually. I've never really listened to Mr. Perry's alter-ego Madea before. She seemed to be a pretty stereotypical southern Black woman, and I never really understood why Mr. Perry would want to foster that stereotype. But that's because I wasn't listening. Madea went on and on Saturday night, about how important it is for women not to take abuse from men, about how important it is to go to school an foster good values. It was a life lesson and Madea was only the vehicle -- a way for Mr. Perry to teach African-Americans through humor, without preaching at them. It was a revelation for me -- and now I know why Ozzie chose Mr. Perry to work with and for. Check him out some time.
Now, for some news.
Health care is out of reach for millions of Americans, according to a new report. One in five Americans under age 65 had trouble accessing care, largely due to cost. As employers switch to high deductible plans, workers have an increasingly difficult time with their out-of-pocket costs. If you don't have $7500 or $10,000 for a deductible, having health insurance doesn't get you very far. It's really there only for catastrophic coverage. And poor and uninsured adults are having a harder time getting a doctor to see them. This trend is so scary. Too many people aren't getting the care they desperately need. The unmet need is worst in Tennessee, Florida and Georgia.
In the face of all of this, the GOP, once again, is pushing to reverse impending cuts to military spending without raising taxes, which means cutting social programs even more. Every day, I hear from at least one person who's desperate for help -- no money, no health insurance. I spoke with a woman yesterday who has lupus and whose son is autistic. She works as a paraprofessional in a school, caring for special needs children. But it's contract work, so no benefits, no pay during vacations (including summer). She used to have food stamps but they've been cut from about $300 per month to $45 per month for 2 people. She's desperate and doesn't know where to turn. The more upset she gets, the worse her lupus gets. She and her son are on HUSKY through the State. Cut those benefits and she may well end up unable to work, costing the system far more than she's costing now. Why is it so hard for people to understand that it doesn't save money to keep people from getting the care they need? It's this attitude, that somehow the poor and sick are to blame for their own misfortune, that has one GOP Governor (Maine) saying the unemployed should get up off the couch and get a job. It's such a simple thing -- there but for the grace of [insert deity of choice] go I. Why is it so hard for some people to feel compassion?
More on specialty drugs and how insurers are shifting the cost to patients -- and mostly patients with chronic illnesses. Employers and insurers are looking for ways to control the costs of specialty drugs -- mostly biologics like Remicade, Humira, Cimzia, Enbrel -- as well as other infusion drugs like IVIg. They're deliberately trying to discourage the use of these drugs. But for the patients who respond well to these meds, it's the difference between being able to function and not being able to function. Imagine you finally find the drug that keeps your rheumatoid arthritis in check, and the powers that be are doing all they can to make it hard for you to get it. And for patients with MS. Crohn's disease and others, not using these drugs means disease flares and, ultimately, far more expensive medical care.
42% of Americans will be obese by 2030. That's staggering. It tends to mean increase health costs, too, as more people get diabetes and heart disease as a result. An estimated $550 billion over the next two decades. Should insurance companies cover the cost of gym memberships and weight loss programs?
Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York has announced a new plan to provide better care to the disabled and, in particular, to improve the State's response to complaints of abuse and neglect. He proposes to create a new state agency that will respond to the mentally ill, developmentally disabled, traumatic brain injury victims and others. At a time when cutting the size of government is popular, I give Governor Cuomo credit for trying to do the right thing.
And that's it for this morning. Wish me luck with the oral surgeon. Have a great day! Jennifer