Monday, June 25, 2012

Is Today the Day?

Huffington Post's headline blares MONDAY!!!  For those of us who live and breathe health reform, nothing more needs to be said.  Sure, there are stories under that headline -- the best kept secret; striking down the law would undermine the Court's legitimacy; the stakes are high for "real" people -- especially those with pre-existing conditions; the White House is bracing for bad news; but the law could be upheld.  And on and on.  I hope it comes today, if only to put us out of our miseryEddie Vedder chimed in with Tom Petty on the "Waiting Is the Hardest Part" at the Isle of Wight festival this week-end, and they couldn't have chosen a better time for that song.  We've waited long enough to know whether people with pre-existing conditions will be treated equally by insurance companies or not.  I'm ready to know -- can we celebrate, or is it time to start over again, this war we've been waging on discrimination that the courts say is legal, but that leaves our health and well-being at risk?  They can uphold the law, strike down the law, strike down just the individual mandate, or strike down the individual mandate, coverage of people with pre-existing conditions, and permitting premiums to be based on health status.  50-50 odds of losing coverage for people like us.  If part of the law is struck down, the White House will press ahead with the rest, while the GOP votes to repeal whatever's leftIf they strike down only the mandate, can the rest of the law move forward?  Yes, I say.  Yes, it can. 

Opponents of the law say those of us who supported it didn't take the legal challenge seriously enough.  What we didn't take seriously enough was the willingness of the conservatives on the Court to sell out, reversing years of precedent to help spread their political viewpoint -- corporations buying elections under Citizens United, including the next Presidential election -- a trend that really started with Bush v. Gore.  We used to think the Court had principles -- or at least that they'd want it to look like they do.  Well, when this decision comes down, we will know for sure.  Because there is no principled way to strike down this law. To strike down the Medicaid expansion, you pretty much have to strike down Medicaid.  To strike down the whole law based on the individual mandate, you have to overturn a century of precedent that tells the Court to preserve as much of an Act of Congress as it can. 

But extending health insurance to those who can't afford it is built on principles of community and compassion.  An experiment in Oregon -- giving health coverage to the uninsured by lottery and then studying the effects on their lives -- shows that access to health care makes people happier and more financially stable, as well as healthier.  Opponents of reform have chosen to ignore the plight of the uninsured, instead telling lies about death panels that never existed, a government take-over of insurance that never happened, ignoring all the good that already has been done, the good that would be done were the law allowed to take full effect.  For a century, people have aimed for universal health care in America.  Will the monied interests once again prevail over all that is right and good?  That, for me, is what is at stake.

And I'm tired -- tired of waiting, tired of defending a law against complete and utter lies, tired of trying to spin whatever goes wrong, tired of trying to figure out what to say to the people who call, day in, day out, asking what they can do if they have no health insurance and no money.   Tired of living the effects of injustice every single day.  If you haven't sat in my chair, you don't see the big picture, the harm that the system has done and is doing.  Some days, it's too much for me to bear.  Millions of Americans suffering. Children suffering.  People who work hard but can't afford health insurance or health care -- get sicker, lose jobs, and then the same people who oppose health reform chastise them for living on welfare or disability.  They live with blinders on, these opponents of health reform.  They live in a world that is sanitized of  the pain I see and feel every day.  They live in a fairy tale world.  Nobody could see what I see and be against health reform -- against covering people with pre-existing conditions, against expanding Medicaid to cover the poorest of the poor.  Nobody could see what I see and not be willing to bleed for change. 

What will I say to the people who need help if the law is struck down?

While nothing is as important as that to me and others with chronic illnesses, there is a little additional news.

It looks like Pfizer wasn't completely straightforward about Celebrex and its ability to protect the stomach while treating pain, unlike other arthritis meds.  What a disappointment, to think that such a large drug company would tell half-truths when it comes to something so important.  I know -- you'll say I shouldn't be surprised, won't you?  I guess I'm naive in thinking the regulatory process would deter such behavior since it was bound to become public eventually. 

Health apps are multiplying in droves -- and are unregulated, causing consternation at the FDA.  How do you know which ones to rely on? 

When a non-sectarian hospital merges with a Catholic hospital, women lose health care.  Waterbury Hospital is merging with St. Mary's, but that means Waterbury Hospital has to take on the Catholic directives -- not just eliminating abortion, but eliminating counseling about contraceptives.  Eliminate tubal ligations during c-sections. 

That's it for this morning.  Check back here for updates.  We'll have the health reform decision immediately, and analysis as quickly as possible.  Meanwhile, let's hope we have something to celebrate.  Jennifer

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