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God Bless You, LBJ

Friday, September 15th, 2017

I became eligible for Medicare in July, 2015 and enrolled shortly after. It turned out to be one of the best days of my life!

Prior to that time, I had been buying insurance on the “free market”–nothing free about it, if you ask me! I’ll give you my feelings about free market insurance after a little historical context.

I’d been self-employed most of my life. In college–during the Ice Age–at the University of Washington, in Seattle, WA, all students were covered and could use the Health Facilities for free. I went a few times for minor illnesses.

After college, I joined Group Health Cooperative in Seattle. It cost a little over $20 a month–back in the ’70s. For that we got all medical and drug expenses for FREE. Let me make sure you understand: There were NO co-pays or deductibles. Sounds great, doesn’t it?

Well, over the years, that idyllic version of American health care disappeared. By the time I was in my 50′s, health insurance has soared to $500-$600 + a month (just for me) and the deductibles were insane. I wanted to get a colonoscopy in my 50s, as was recommended by my MD. I called my insurance company to find my co-pay and found it was $1,000! Needless to say, that colonoscopy didn’t happened until I was covered by Medicare.

When President Johnson signed the original bill into legislation, Medicare was free to all seniors. Now it costs a little over $100 per month per person. (Not complaining!). Back then all your medical and hospital costs were covered. Now you get about 80% coverage. But you can buy supplemental insurance, which I opted to do. For an additional $214 a month, ALL my medical bills are paid. There is no “in network” restriction. I can go anywhere I want and get it covered, within the medical community. Often alternative health providers are covered as well by limiting what they can charge (my chiropractor can only charge $32 per visit, for example).

Prescription medications are covered by yet another insurer. Again, it’s a reasonable amount–$25 a month–and well worth it.

I pay about $350 a month for no deductibles, 100% coverage and most prescription drugs are under $10 a month.

There is another obvious aspect to this: The above is for the highest risk population in the country–seniors. If this amazing coverage can happen for us, it begs the question, why can’t it for all Americans?

Certain politicians decry “Medicare for All” as putting the government between you and your doctor. That’s a lie. Right now, insurance companies are between you and your doctor. I have NEVER received a call from a government worker saying they wouldn’t pay for any procedure. It just doesn’t happen.

When I was diagnosed with breast cancer in February, 2017, paying for the surgeries and treatments never crossed my mind. A close friend of mine experienced the same diagnosis with “Free Market” insurance and it took her over 4 years to pay off her medical expenses.

The next time you vote, ask your candidates about Medicare for All and if they agree that health care is a right and not a privilege, give them your vote! It’s really a vote for YOU.

God Bless You, LBJ!

Why Elected Officials Must Set A Moral And Ethical Tone/Example

Friday, September 15th, 2017

Regardless of one’s political perspectives, opinions, and/ or preferences, few would argue, the overall tone, is often set, by the example, elected officials either personally set, or, are perceived to be setting! While this has, probably, always been the case, it has become more abundantly evident, this year, because we have never witnessed a President, like Donald Trump, in terms of background, behavior, tone, rhetoric, level of vitriol, tendency to blame and complain (and throw someone under the proverbial, bus), lack of conventional behavior/ conduct, and tendencies, which have stirred severe emotional behavior, whether someone likes/ approves of the man, or, quite the contrary! During normal times, most of us overlook, or take these occurrences, with somewhat of a grain of salt, unless/ until it directs impacts our personal, or perceived, self – interest. However, these are anything but usual or normal times, and this President, is totally unpredictable, nor behaves as we expect our President’s to! We will try to examine and briefly review, some of the circumstances/ situations, where there is so much impact, because of the moral and ethical behavior, political and elected leaders have so much importance.

1. Human rights: Although America is a nation of laws, based on freedoms, elected officials have much to do, regarding enforcing laws, and regulations, and setting, both actual, as well as perceived tones, observed keenly, by their constituents. As we have observed this year, Trump’s core followers, and strongest supporters, obviously believe in his rhetoric and promises. One might believe, as I do, one of the principal attractions of this man, is he appeals to what his supporters hope for, wishing to be true, and limiting the rights of those, they have come to believe, hurt their chances, economically, professionally, and, perhaps, anything else, which troubles them! However, we must all understand, America was founded on certain freedoms, and it is wrong to pick – and – choose, and selectively enforce laws, to fit one’s agenda!

2. Insurance debate: Few would argue, the Affordable Care Act (ACA, also known as Obamacare) has significant flaws. However, it is important to understand, why it was passed, in the first place, which was to address, providing health care, to the many uninsured, or under – insured Americans! When candidate, Trump, promised the electorate, he could fix it, like no one else, and it would be easy to do, many of those, feeling overlooked by the process, wanted to believe, and combined with the hatred, many of these individuals, seemed to have for President Obama (policy, racial, etc?), wanted less expensive, better insurance, which served their interests (whether it helped the nation, as a whole, or not), However, one wonders why they continued to believe in his promises, after the alternative to the ACA, was tens of millions of uninsured, little protection for those with pre – existing conditions, even poorer laws, and nearly nothing, positive, provided!

3. Islamic – phobia: Unfortunately, quite often, many people prefer to blame and complain, rather than create viable solutions, which address priorities, needs and concerns! Just as, in many historical instances, people seek scapegoats, to blame for their woes, Trump has stoked the fires of hatred, bigotry, etc, and blamed all Muslims, for the horrific behavior of a very small minority of those who follow, and believe, in Islam. Remember, since Islam is the world’s largest religion, if, indeed, all were as our President and his most ardent followers, claim and/ or believe, how might anyone put up significant, meaningful resistance?

4. Nazis; White Supremacists; Alt – Right: While most honorable people abhor the behavior of Nazis, White Supremacists, and members of the so – called, Alt – RIght, the tone, rhetoric, and refusal to more strongly condemn violence and terrorism, as exhibited recently in Charlottesville, have sent a signal, this President may be, an ally to those with these horrific attitudes, and behaviors. Anyone who can say, Many good people, were among the demonstrators, and the attempt to place blame on both sides, clearly set an Anti – American tone!

Politicians and elected officials, come and go, and some, each of us might either support or oppose (or be somewhat neutral about). However, we have come to a point in our history, where the very soul of this nation, is being called into question! How will we respond, and what will the result be, both on an immediate and longer – term basis? When will some common sense prevail?