Paul's Heart

Life As A Dad, And A Survivor

Archive for the category “Politics”

Health Care Debate – Get Informed Or Shut Up

I generally stay away from political discussion on this blog, for one main reason, most conversations around politics result in nothing being accomplished except hurt feelings.  But clearly, there is one topic that is unavoidable given the purpose of my blog, healthcare.

First – State The Obvious

Forget it is CNN, often referred to as “fake news.”  And the two moderators Jake Tapper and Dana Bash do not hold anything back.  Expect the obvious and the difficult questions to be asked.

Now, the obvious.  There are four participants, none are slouches when it comes to our government.  All have knowledge of the needs of our country in regard to healthcare, that is, if they listen to their constituents.  Two reps have an agenda to undo current health care, one rep clearly wants the current system left alone for certain, hopefully to improve upon it, and the remaining rep has his own high achieving agenda, but clearly against the other two reps.

I know nothing about Klobuchar other than some interviews I have seen, and she seems to be a sincere individual.  Graham, I am split with him on certain issues.  I can give a “hell yeah!” on certain things, and then a “WTF!!” on others.  Admittedly, his position on health care is one of those “WTF!!” moments.  Cassidy, I only know of him, when he publicly proclaimed one direction for health care, and now, with his co-creator of the bill, seems to be doing exactly the opposite.  And then there is Sanders.  I know the most about him, because I have followed him, years before he was even a thought for candidacy of the presidency.  Regardless of how anyone feels about him, he will not hold back on facts or opinions.  A reason some like him, some do not.  In my opinion, I consider him to be truthful and genuine in intent.  And no, I do not agree with him on everything either.  But I do on health care.

Why Health Care Is Important To Me?

I had cancer almost 30 years ago.  I have more than a dozen issues related to the treatments that I received, two of which almost cost my life.  Without healthcare, I will die.

I remember when I was diagnosed, I had health care insurance.  And then, when I had to change employers, I was left unable to get health insurance, because back then, it was legal to discriminate due to pre-existing conditions.  I went through several years, lucky, or as some millenials call themselves, “healthy,” and then I got lucky with a new employer that enabled me to be insured again, only because it was a group policy, and as a member of a union, they had to accept me.  Eight years after that, I had life saving emergency heart surgery, and several other episodes after that.

Second – Accept The Obvious

Insurance companies are not in the money to spend money on sick people.  And knowing that more than a half million dollars have been spent on my life, just cancer-related, can you really blame greedy insurance companies for wanting to take on a liability loser like me?  My health history, along with other long term cancer survivors, my tab is only going to get higher.

But at least with the Affordable Care Act, it became illegal to discriminate for pre-existing conditions.

My Rule

I will not refer to the Affordable Care Act as “Obamacare.”  Using OC, intentionally carries with it, a political overtone which is meant to enflame those in debate.  If you did not like President Obama, then you have to hate ‘Obamacare.”  But as many have found out, with all of its faults and needs for improvement, many who did and still do not like the former president, realize they actually need the ACA.

Spinning Wheels

Since its signing, both parties have done nothing but spin their wheels.  Imagine having 4-wheel drive, and the front axle spinning in one direction, and the rear axle spinning in the other.  That is exactly what our government has done for the last eight years.  One side arguing the ACA needs improvement, and did nothing.  The other side, trying more than 50 times to reverse the ACA, and until this year, offering nothing to replace the ACA.  BOTH SIDES ARE GUILTY!!!

Be Honest

The Graham-Cassidy bill is being rushed for approval before a September 30th deadline.  This deadline is because no Democrat will vote to repeal the ACA, whether because their constituents voiced their opinion as so, or whether just towing party line.  But the Republicans have a ticking clock, allowing them to get around a normal vote requirement, having 60 votes, by currently requiring just over 50 votes.  But this clock runs out this Saturday.  And some in the Republican are uncomfortable rushing through this bill, just for the sake of taking advantage of this temporary advantage.  Statements from several supporters of the GC bill, have openly said this, “I campaigned to repeal Obamacare, and that is what I am going to do no matter what.”  You could have the most vile issues in this bill, and there are quite a few, and that does not matter to certain reps who will vote on party line, not what is best for their constituents.

A Bad Idea?

I will be honest, I do support what Sanders wants to accomplish with having everyone insured.  And yes, I will give the argument, we all use the fire department and ambulance and police.  Healthcare should not be about profit, it should be about care, saving lives.

But a good point is raised by David Gergen.  Right now, the focus needs to be, not even necessarily worrying about the Affordable Care Act, but worrying about the Graham-Cassidy bill, which is not even necessarily a GOP bill.  If too much time is spent on hearing dog whistles like “Obamacare in death spiral” or ” “markets are failing” which nobody seems to prove true or false.  But if you listen to too many dog whistles, you are going to miss what is actually important, having enough information to agree upon, that the Graham Cassidy bill should not be passed.  Sure, Medicare for all is a good idea, just not tonight.  Defending some aspects of the ACA, a good idea, just not tonight.

Where Do We Go From Here?

Watch tonight at 9pm on CNN.  For some, you will have to forget the network you are watching, and maybe forget who the moderators are.  Ultimately, you will hear from 4 of our government representatives, with at least three different ideas on healthcare.  It will be their words.  We can all watch this together, and have a civil discussion on what we heard.  Be careful, I am a very good note-taker and be able to quote quite quickly.

Because of my health issues,  I have a genuine interest in health care.  I also have a lot of knowledge about health care.  I also have a heart that everyone deserves to have health care, that is not only affordable, but available.  I do not believe that just because you give states permission to charge sick patients more is the same as leaving pre-existing conditions not discriminated.  Fact, you allow patients to be charged more because they are sick, it becomes unaffordable.  You do not get to call that leaving pre-existing conditions alone when patients are priced out of coverage, and die.

I do not want to hear spin after tonight, neither for or against.  All four individuals have the ability tonight to clearly state what everything is about.  And after tonight, demand your representative to do the right thing, not just because of the nickname on the ACA.



Repeal – Accepting No Less And What It Will Mean

Disclaimer – though this is a blatant political post, I want to stress that it is in no way intended to lean in one direction or the other, insult any of our governmental leadership other than the blatant failure to guarantee health care for each and every citizen of the United States of America.  Health care for all should be a right, and not a privilege simply for those who can afford it.

I belong to no political party as I detest attributes (I will not call them values because I believe most of our representatives value only the money that is accepted by them, from their lobbyists, that normally determine how each will vote.) of both parties.

Now that I have that off my chest, I must say that there appears to be some sort of encouraging news today out of Washington.  Senate leader Mitch McConnell has been quoted that efforts in dealing with health care, may just be heading to a bipartisan effort.  To understand what this Herculean effort means, look at the history.

President Obama approves the Affordable Care Act.  While Democrats do not argue that improvements need to be made to the ACA, over the next 7 years of Obama’s presidency, nothing major is accomplished in doing so.  During those same 7 years, Republicans concentrate only on “repealing” the entire act – no improvements, just complete repeal, and have nothing but empty promises to replace.

Elections are charged up with emotion, both parties running on the campaign promises to either “improve” or “repeal” the ACA, but now the Republican party is offering hints at replacing the ACA, because at this point, even the Republican party can see the same good that has come from certain parts of the ACA, while still recognizing the other problems of the ACA.  But with the election of 2016, one political party has complete control to make everything happen, the Republicans control the Senate, the House, and the Presidency.  Taking care of health care should be a slam dunk with the Democratic party basically having no say in the process.

But there is a group within the Republican party as I mentioned, that sees part of the ACA being a good thing.  It is another group though, publicly referred to as “extreme right wing”, that have put their foot down and said the entire ACA must go, anything less than that, and these certain Senators will not even vote along with their party to “partly” replace the health care bill with another.

Here is the thing.  All Republicans campaigned with the promise of Repeal.  The President ran with Repeal and Replace.  As it stands right now, someone is going to end up breaking their campaign promise.  Even the latest rumor, and actual tweet from the president, “if the current bill is not approved before the July 4th break, then immediately repeal the ACA, and we will replace later.”  That clearly is a broken promise by the president.  But for those who support “repeal now” and “replace later,” they put an asterisk by that comment by saying, the repeal would not take effect for a year to allow time to come up with a replacement.  Well, then that would be a broken promise by the government representatives who promised to repeal immediately (technically by the president also – until he found out how difficult health care was).

If you truly believe that the ACA could be repealed, and a replacement guaranteed within a year, then clearly you have not payed attention to this discussion for the last eight years, especially the last six months.  I also would have some beach front property in Las Vegas to sell you.

I want to make you understand, what is at stake with flat out repealing the ACA, especially without any decent and humane replacement plan.

Repeal the ACA and you…

go back to being discriminated against to qualify for insurance based on pre existing conditions

go back to life-time limits which for many can occur within the first week of someone’s life

higher premiums based on older age

will continue just as before the ACA, with the ACA, and today, to see increased insurance premiums

These four reasons alone are why the Affordable Care Act cannot be repealed 100%.  Just cancer survivors like myself, would automatically no longer able to get health insurance.  Sure, a certain party wants you to believe that pre-existing conditions will be covered, but refuse to accept that allowing high risk rates for us, would price us out of health care, these representatives will simply sit back and say, “not our problem.”

Recently, a story was published about a 3-year old boy, named Ethan Chandra, who had been born with a birth defect called Heterotaxy syndrome which causes a whole lot of complications internally with any or all body organs.  The bill for the corrective surgery for his heart was over $230,000 of which, covered under the ACA, only cost his mother $500.  Clearly, without the ACA, the family would have lost everything, and the child himself had the possibility of nearing  what would have been a lifetime cap.  And while our government argues over the merits of health care being a right or a privilege, even those against health care reform offered absurd and offensive comments directed at this poor child and mother.

Even with a Republican controlled government, I do not see an end to “repealing and replacing” the Affordable Care Act.  Sure, it is great that finally the Democrats may be included.  In all honesty, they should have been working on improvements even under the new president.  But now, if efforts of a bipartisan attempt fail, we may finally have representatives to come forward with the only proposal that will work, health care for all.  If I had to guess, an out of control premium and deductible would be replaced with a tax.  And while no one likes to hear the word “tax”, a set tax rate to cover health care is easily more controlled than greedy insurance companies.

We are the only industrialized country that does not guarantee health care for its citizens, in spite of us having some of the best care available in the world, only if you can afford it.  But no matter what health care bill gets passed, unlike the ACA, if there are problems, passing the bill is not good enough.  Improvements must be made.  So for all that want to point to “wait” times of certain countries, look at other countries who do not have that issue.  The system can work, and has worked with many countries having it in place for decades.

And for those who fear the term “socialism,”  I call bullshit.  You cannot be afraid of providing health care for everyone, yet support the fire department, the police department, ambulance personnel, and a whole list of other programs paid for by our taxes.  The only ones who are afraid of a “socialist” program like universal health care, are the ones that have the most to lose, insurance companies, and Big Pharm.  And just like the debate of legalizing medical marijuana as an option to Big Pharm opioid control, money continues to do the loudest talking from the pockets of our representatives who are supposed to be “of the people”, and “for the people.”

Do not repeal the Affordable Care Act.  Either fix it, or accept that the only humane, Christian (apologies to my atheist friends but unfortunately as one political party hides behind their religion, I have to call out their hypocrisy), and right option, is health care for all.

Questions And Answers

Every so often, follower of “Paul’s Heart” reach out to me with questions.  I want to take this opportunity right now to answer those questions.

How do you decide your topics?

I am a very impulsive writer in most cases.  With the exception of planned projects, such as short stories I have had published in Visible Ink, various news publications, the majority of posts/stories come from ideas that personally concern me, such as cancer, survivorship, adoption, health care, divorce, and such.  An idea might pop into my head, and within hours, I “lose” that urgency to write, and it falls into a cue which currently holds over 500 prompts.

Are there things I will not write about?

I do not believe in censorship, so I would say that I can and would write about anything if I was asked.  As a rule, when it comes to “Paul’s Heart”, I generally do not discuss my opinions when it comes to religion and politics because those things are private to me, and I do not want that to interfere with the purpose of this blog, to help and support those experiencing similar life struggles as myself.  If I do write about a controversial subject, such as health care, I will do my best to research and present facts.  But I have found, that writing about politics or religion, often cause more harm to relationships, and what I want this blog to achieve.

Do you prefer to write fiction or non-fiction?

I am told that I do not give myself enough credit for my writings.  I have had several assistants editing many of my pieces, all with different approaches for me.  I do not consider myself to have a vivid imagination, yet my writing coaches have a way of drawing out that talent from me.  I do prefer to write biographical type pieces, as many of my followers look to “Paul’s Heart” for inspiration.  I have written about many others on this blog and the experiences that they have gone through, so the stories are not just about me.

I have taken what I have learned from my writing coaches, and encourage my children to write in a similar fashion, by giving them simple prompts to provoke their imagination.

I do enjoy writing editorial pieces also.

Do you make time to write?

I recall the person who asked me this question.  Their claim was that between all of the doctor appointments, work, taking care of their family, this person felt that they had no time to write, in spite of their desire to do so.

I do try to set aside time to write, at least once a week, if not more.  It does not always work out that way, because I also have a tendency to get “stuck” not able to put thoughts together to write a piece, perhaps I do not like the finished project, or I just even give up on that particular piece.  But unless I have a deadline to meet, I write when I write.

In further discussion with this person, it turned out that they spent on average three hours on a train, commuting to and from work.  I mentioned that if they were interested in writing, this time period on the train would be ideal to gather thoughts, to see if there would be anything that they might like to discuss on paper.  Time on the train is a perfect and often quiet time to reflect.

Is writing therapeutic for you?

In one word, absolutely.  I am a person who internalizes… a lot.  I have many emotional struggles as a cancer survivor, one of which is survivor’s guilt.  And that is exactly what it says.  I also deal with PTSD and anxiety in relation to my survivorship.  I do have someone that I speak with, but when I do not have that option available, yes, writing is just one of the things I enjoy to help me relax, along with my other method, music.

Whether you publish something, or just document a thought in some sort of diary, releasing a thought that is of great concern to you through writing is indeed therapeutic.  Keeping concerns inside is not good.  And all too often, we do not have someone that we can just readily talk to, or may not even be good at listening.  We can express our thoughts, reflect on them, and then decide if it is necessary to share with others, or is it good enough that “I” recognize that expressing myself as I had done, that is all that needs to be done.  Yes, it is very therapeutic.

Can I share my story on your blog?

As long as it pertains to cancer, survivorship, adoption, or divorce, I am more than happy to share others stories of survivorship and inspiration.  You can send your story to me at .

As always, I am so thankful for everyone who reads and follows “Paul’s Heart”.  As I mentioned earlier, I have a lot of stories in cue to get to.  I think I am caught up on questions.

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