Let’s tell the truth about health care in the U.S.

affordable-care-act-logo

“If I say it often enough everyone will believe it.”

It’s a strategy often used by children. Until they reach a certain stage of intellectual and moral maturity, they think they can get away with making up their own reality. In their minds, everyone else will just follow along, if they’re insistent enough.

It’s become the GOP’s strategy over the last years, as well. Certain members of the party are better at it than others. But as a whole, the GOP wins the gold medal for making up an alternate reality and shouting it until people who don’t know better believe it.

The most damaging example  (honestly, there’s so much of it, how can we rank the vile-ness of their lies?) One example is the horrendous untruths they’ve told about the Affordable Care Act. How many times have we heard a Republican demagogue tell the nation that the ACA is a “disaster?” That people are suffering more now than ever due to Obama Care?

Allow me to share some verifiable, objectives truths about health care and the ACA:

  1. According to the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Article 25 1. Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.

2. Since the passing of the Affordable Care Act, fewer Americans than ever in our nation’s history go without medical insurance.

3. No one may be denied health care due to pre-existing conditions – literally a life-saver for people with serious, long-term health issues.

4. Young people may now retain coverage under their parents’ health care policies until age 26 – vital in a day and age when students come out of college with crippling loan debt.

5. Though some individuals’ premiums have risen since the passage of the ACA, here are the truths associated with that fact: A) Many people received subsidies to ameliorate the rising cost. B) Health care costs are rising more slowly since the passage of the ACA than previously. C) Insurance companies are not our friends. Theses companies are more responsible for rising costs than is the ACA. D) A significant portion of rising costs is due to the millions who remain uninsured because individual states chose to reject increased federal Medicaid and Medicare funding, disingenuously claiming to abhor the thought of raising the national debt by helping their citizens remain healthy.

And now allow me to share my own, subjective truth about health care.

I’ve been in a place in my adult life where I had to accept public assistance in order to ensure health care coverage for my family. The prospect of being uninsured is a terrifying specter in this nation. Even with insurance, we were driven into bankruptcy due to medical bills. The American health care system is a travesty. The ACA is not perfect, but it’s the best improvement we’ve had since the Children’s Health Insurance Program (thank you, Hillary Clinton). Repealing will mean severe illness and even death for many citizens.

The GOP rally cry of “Repeal and Replace!” is nothing more than chest-beating, anti-humanity rhetoric.

People need health care, even if the system isn’t quite perfect, it costs more, or creates some problems for the larger group – we call that the social contract.

No matter how many times or how loudly the members of the majority party of Congress – as if they were young children –  shout to us about the “failure” of the ACA, it will always be a lie.

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Blame the assholes.

before-you-diagnose-yourself

I’ve been struggling with anxiety and depression for weeks, labeling it as situational and/or blaming it on my annual Seasonal Affective Disorder.

But now, thanks to the power of the meme, I have a whole new outlook! My emotional despair is due to all the assholes around me! Let’s list them, shall we?

  • The American voting public
  • The president elect
  • His band of xenophobic cabinet and advisers
  • The equally hateful majority in Congress
  • My direct supervisor, who has become a master of prevarication and of avoiding communication
  • Certain members of the governing body of our church, who are not particularly dedicated yet have created policies that completely screwed loyal, long-time employees
  •  Okay, this one’s not an asshole, but he’s definitely a very significant contributor to my emotional state: The member of my immediate family whose symptoms due to his diagnoses create constant stress.

All joking aside, I understand that blaming others for my own problems is a slippery slope. My addiction to navel-gazing intense introspective skills have helped me see my own part of the mess, and I’ve been deliberately engaging in shitloads of self-care as a defense.

But seriously, there’s only so much we can do when we’re drowning in assholes.

 

The worst possible deja vu.

On another Tuesday night, sixty-six days ago, almost to the minute, the world as I’d always known it came crashing down.

The Husband, our Middle, and I sat in front of the televion watching election returns. Hearts sinking. Minds numb. In true physical shock at what our fellow citizens had just done. Weeping and wailing uncontrollably.

The intial shock has reached stasis in the ensuing 66 days, to be replaced by a deep and haunting depression over the state of our beloved nation. 

Tonight we sat down together again, in the same room, on the same sofa, and watched the best president of my lifetime say his farewells. A man of honor, dignity, wisdom, and class. Moving aside peacefully, as our democracy requires, to hand over our nation to the person who was elected to take his place. 

I am sickened by the thought of what lies ahead. 

How to torture an introvert with SAD.

Actually, much of life is torture for us introverts. And winter is always a slog for those of us with Seasonal Affective Disorder.
But last night hit all the sore points: 

  • Had to go to a meeting with people I don’t know well.
  • At 7:00 at night.
  • Which is after dark.
  • The meeting was at work, where I’d already been all day. Where shitloads of stress is giving me serious anxiety symptoms. Led by the person who is causing pretty much all the stress. 
  • Was forced to interact appropriately at a time of day when all I’m fit for is p.j.’s and my cozy bedroom with only my family around. 

As you, dear reader, reach for a Kleenex to wipe away tears of sympathy, I’ll tell you how I managed this torture session:

  • Wore sweats yesterday. Even all day at work. I can get away with sweats almost any day I want, but this time it was a deliberate nose-thumbing to the prospect of the evening meeting.
  • Put supper in the Crock Pot before I left the house this morning, to decrease evening stress.
  • Toyed with the idea of coming up with a fake excuse for missing the meeting, then righteously decided to adult like a boss and actually go. 
  • Promised myself an enormous latte on the way to work this morning as a bribe. It’s DELICIOUS.
  • Arrived at the very last second I could possibly get there and still be reasonably on time. 
  • Was the first person to leave, rather than hanging about and “visiting.” (BARF)

So. I survived. Anyone else out there have coping strategies for this sort of indignity?

Image credit: Cram Crew Blog

They’re always good for a laugh.

While hanging out quietly in the living room last night – I was reading and Middle was working on lesson plans for the week for her 6th graders – our daughter suddenly burst into laughter. She pointed to the ceiling and I saw this:


Backstory: Grandma reveres her large collection of Hummel figurines (eye roll), including a set she hangs on her Christmas tree. My SIL accidentally broke one while helping to put them away, and our son offered to repair it.

That was last weekend. So this goofy Hummel girl has been hanging from the ceiling fan for a week without our noticing.

A few texts back and forth with the son revealed that he’d hung her there while the glue dried, and then forgot about her.

Pretty great when your kids can crack you up after a week of absence, when they’re hours away.

Marital bliss

It’ss 11 degrees here today, with snow. My creed for the day is “Do not leave the house for any purpose.”

But I did get up and do just a few items around the house before noon. On a Saturday.

  • Baked scones.
  • Cleaned the kitchen.
  • Cleaned the bathroom.
  • Payed bills.
  • Did two loads of laundry, including one consisting only of The Husband’s work clothes.
  • Put away the groceries I’d ordered for delivery.
  • Cleaned the kitchen a second time, after everyone ate breakfast.

The Husband got out of bed at 11:30. While he was eating his breakfast, I was doing that second kitchen clean. I asked him if he wanted the last scone. And he asked, as I scurried around doing dishes and cleaning counters AFTER having done the above task list all morning, if I would heat up the scone for him.

I am not particularly ashamed to say I didn’t take the request well. 

Married life. You gotta love it. I guess.

Sucker.

When your iPhone’s photo app’s “memories” feature can bring tears to your eyes, you know you’re either way too stressed or a sap. Or both.

I only discovered this function about a month ago. When it caught my eye again today, I saw that it had a new “memory,” covering all of 2016 with my photos. 


Between the happy pix of my family doing fun things together throughout the year and the background music, it did me in. 

Seriously, if you haven’t looked at it, give it a try. But grab a Kleenex first. 

The ties that bind.

On the last day our Oldest was in town for Christmas, I took her and her sister out for lunch to our favorite Mediterranean place. Their brother was out of town for the day, but he’d promised to get home in time to say goodbye to his sister and come to the airport with us. 

As we three girls sat there, laughing and stuffing our faces with baba ganoush, hummus, and dolmas, it occurred to one of us that The Boy hadn’t headed for home yet, and there was no chance he was going to get back in time.

So we texted him, had a quick FaceTime chat at the table (which he recognized, enviously and immediately, as one of his favorite places to eat), and good-byes were shared that way.

And it suddenly hit me: this is why I absolutely adore my nuclear family.

We care about each other. We know we genuinely like as well as love each other. We love spending time together. We know each other’s shortcomings and make allowances. And we don’t freak out over unfortunate mishaps like not getting home in time to say goodbye.

I know SOOOOO many people – SOOOOO many families – for whom this type of brain fart on the part of one family member would have ended up like World War III. Hurt feelings, cold shoulders, back stabbing, and triangulation. 

And then I realized there are certain members of my extended family who actually do embroil themselves in that kind of petty-ness. I’ve actually severed ties with a couple of those family members, and felt ensuing guilt. There are others I’ve just distanced myself from a bit over the years, to step away from that kind of ridiculous drama. Again, a bit of guilt there.

The family members and friends I’ve kept close to are the ones who don’t engage in that kind of bullshit. The ones who realize that love and friendship are much more important than mistakes, accidents, and occasional stupidity. 

Just a bit more navel-gazing on this subject…I also realized that it’s my own mom who has perfected the art of “don’t sweat the small stuff.” I’ve learned that vital life lesson from her.

And that is one hell of an awesome legacy. 

Always look on the bright side of life…


Note: If you’ve never seen “Monty Python’s Life of Brian,” make it your 2017 resolution to do so.

Yesterday’s post was crazy negative. From the heart, yes, but distinctly wallowing-in-the-shit negative. 

So let’s take a different route today and join in on “50 things I am thankful for from 2016.”

  1. Not a single surgery in our family, for the first time in years.
  2. Beautifully redecorated bedroom.
  3. Ditto, living room.
  4. Ditto, Little Free Library.
  5. Middle graduated Summa Cum Laude and started her first teaching job.
  6. Hamilton – the soundtrack to my year.
  7. A safe neighborhood.
  8. Ability to pay bills with very little worry, for the first time in many years.
  9. Visit to Oldest, with darling Middle, in June – trip to Baltimore, D.C., and Philly.
  10. The earth hasn’t yet imploded from the piss-poor reasoning abilities of the American voter.
  11. Seeing The Boy’s conducting debut in person.
  12. Seeing The Boy’s senior recital in person.
  13. Oldest had her name on three published scientific papers over the summer.
  14. A number of truly awesome and supportive coworkers.
  15. Our cozy home, a retreat from the world.
  16. Old friends.
  17. My mom.
  18. The Christian Left.
  19. Panstuit Nation.
  20. Robert Reich, columnist.
  21. Paul Krugman, columnist.
  22. Old-fashioned, hard-copy, print news.
  23. Blog friends.
  24. Dogs. Can’t have one, but every dog I see out with its owner, simply loving life, makes me smile.
  25. The time and ability to cook and eat most of our meals at home.
  26. The company of our Middle, who chooses to live at home.
  27. Crisp autumn days.
  28. New finds on Netflix and Acorn TV.
  29. Masterpiece Theater.
  30. Public Broadcasting, both television and radio.
  31. Hand work – knitting, crochet, and embroidery this year.
  32. Babies and toddlers to play with as part of my work.
  33. Dipping our toe into 21st century technology with a Smart TV to replace our former model, bought in the 1990’s.
  34. When my two far-away babies come home.
  35. Dark chocolate with sea salt and caramel.
  36. Fun coffee on the way to work.
  37. Grocery delivery – it’s changed my life.
  38. Cute boots.
  39. Guinea pig videos.
  40. Texting back and forth with my family the funny, silly things of everyday life.
  41. Oldest managed her serious tendinitis without having to have surgery, by wearing a splint on each wrist for three months.
  42. Our niece as Eponine in “Les Mis.”
  43. Fun jewelry.
  44. My SUV, which even though well-used is still a joy.
  45. Cute neighbor kids building fairy houses in the back yard with Middle, and then building them on their own in our front yard.
  46. Our farmer’s market in historic downtown.
  47. Lime, basil, and strawberry infused water in the hot summer months.
  48. Simmering potpourri and deliciously scented wax melts.
  49. Ordering clothes – and pretty much everything, really – online.
  50. An entire family that’s on the same page politically.

Well, that was refreshing. 

If you, too, are experiencing existential angst, I’d suggest you give it a try!

Almost 2017? Sorry, it’s a non-event.

New Year’s Eve has never been my favorite holiday. Don’t like staying up late. Not a fan of parties. All New Year’s means to me is that it’s almost time to put away Christmas. And that’s just sad.

Of course, the new year is also considered a time to start fresh. The whole “resolution” thing. This time around I’m seeing a lot of posts and commentaries on what a relief it is that 2016, with all its tragedies, is coming to an end. 

Can’t get on that bandwagon, either. 

Because – surprise! – turning over a new month and a new year on the calendar won’t make even the tiniest dent in the the suck that was 2016. We’re just that much closer to the execution of Brexit. That much closer to the inauguration of a thoroughly slimy and disgusting, self-serving excuse for a human being into the hallowed halls of the POTUS. Refugees continue to search in vain for hope of safety and security. The voices of minorities and the oppressed are still drowned out by the privileged.

Defeatist? Yes, probably.

A couple of months ago, I found hope in the good I could do locally, through my full-time position in our church congregation. But due to incredibly bad leadership from those in power, those opportunities seem to be disappearing. 

2017 on the horizon just looks depressingly bleak. 

I hope something comes along to change that.