Paul's Heart

Life As A Dad, And A Survivor

Archive for the category “Politics”

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.

HR1313 Is A Bad Thing, And Not Just For Cancer Survivors

This is going to be a difficult story for me to post, because as my readers know, I do what I can to avoid talking politics and religion on this blog.  I do my best to navigate any advocacy issue without any bias towards left or right, religion or lack of.  But as a survivor of cancer, and a multi-victim of discrimination because of my health history, HR1313 is a topic I need to write about.

HR1313 is a new bill, called the Preserving Employee Wellness Programs Act, being introduced by our government representatives.  And while the name of the bill looks harmless enough, as the expression goes, “don’t judge a book by its cover.”

So let me start at the beginning, to state my qualifications and experience with the topic of this post.

After nearly two years of battling Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (1990), though I was not unhappy with my employer, I was still looking for opportunities to improve my life financially.  This meant investigating new job opportunities.  My stepfather had recommended that with my personality and charisma, I would be perfect to work in the insurance industry.  He was well known in his company and would do what he could to help me get hired.

I met with my stepfather’s boss, who outlined what the hiring process would involve.  There would be studying for licenses, other interviews, the application itself, and a medical exam.  I was confused as to the need for a medical exam, as any of the other jobs I had held previously, never required a physical.  Only school had required these at certain periods of my childhood.  The manager had said there would be things I could do to save time while I studied.  Getting the physical out of the way was one thing that could be done.

So the physical went as expected.  I was in remission from my cancer.  My body, other than being a little overweight yet from treatments, was in good shape.  A couple more weeks went by.  I continued my studies, doing well on all the exams I was taking.  I completed my application, and participated in an interview.  A couple of weeks later, I received a phone call from the manager.

“Hi Paul.  It’s Jim.  Listen, I was on the phone with the district office, discussing your application, and the home office feels that it we need you to be in remission from your cancer a bit longer.”  I asked, “how long is ‘much longer’?”  To which he responded, “well, it’s tough to say, you just finished your treatments recently.  But you can always try again.”I hung up the phone in shock.  I beat cancer, and I was being discriminated against for it.  Was it going to be like this for the rest of my life?  No one giving me a chance?

I took the manager, the district office, and the insurance company before the labor relations board for discrimination.  I was not even suing for money.  I wanted their practice of discrimination to be punished however.   With the help of my therapist, and a lawyer, this insurance company was in for a rude awakening.

In 1990, the American With Disabilities Act was signed.  It was a law created to prevent discrimination in all settings.  For the purpose of this post, I am referring to employment, specifically hiring practices.  The insurance company representatives were going to be some of the first introduced to the new law.  It was now illegal to have an applicant subjected to a physical without the intent being to hire.  In other words, the physical could only be demanded once the other requirements are met, and employment would then pend on passing the health physical.  It was at least a moral victory.

The lawyer for the insurance company then accused me of withdrawing my application so my complaint had no merit.  Of course I did not withdraw.  I know what I heard.  And it was awful.

The ADA is not perfect.  While on paper, it says it will protect people with disabilities from discrimination, but the reality is, if someone wanted to discriminate against you, there would always be a loophole.  Like saying someone changed their mind verbally about future employment.

Over the next many years, I would find myself fighting management repeatedly over challenging my ADA rights.  I would also watch others, not assert theirs.  Sure, they would complain about their treatment, and at times, allow their conditions to get worse, but they always kept their mouths shut.  Worried about retaliation from management.  At what cost?

Then in 2008, the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act was signed.  This was a bill that was intended to prevent discrimination based on genetic predispositions.  With technology developing, it should be a good thing that science has been able to find out who might have higher chances of developing a serious illness or physical condition.  But in the hands of an employer or insurance company, genetic testing would become a backdoor loophole to discriminate against employees or clients.  This law at least on paper, is meant to prevent that.

But now comes the Preserving Employee Wellness Programs Act, HR1313.  While it is unclear whether this bill being created is something that will allow employers to demand of its employees and applicants, or whether it will be voluntary, is nothing but a bad thing.  Back in 1990, I volunteered to a doctor, who I was sent to for a physical by the company – not my own personal physician – and volunteered that I just completed treatment for cancer.  Even if this is a voluntary effort, volunteering information to an employer that they have no legal right to know, is setting yourself up to discrimination.  Of course, they cannot tell you that you are not hired because your genes say you are more likely to have a heart attack or develop cancer.  But knowing your genetics in advance of employment or during your employment, gives the employer and opportunity to develop the loophole necessary to deny you, or terminate you.

It is shameful that this effort is under the guise of “enhancing” wellness programs at work, which are a good thing.  But knowing someone’s genetics, is clearly being used to discriminate in either hiring (which the employers will never admit), and also to discriminate employees’ insurance benefits.  Good genetics will get lower insurance rates.  Bad genetics will get higher rates.  DISCRIMINATION!!!  Anyone who has had to fight a serious disease such as cancer, should never have to fight so hard for something they need such as insurance.  Instead, efforts are underway to make it not only more difficult, but financially out of reach.

You want a real good “wellness” program?  Scheduled breaks.  Better pay.  Health insurance that encourages preventative visits.  Less stress in the workplace.  But knowing the genetics of an employee?  That is just a tool for discrimination that an employer should have no right to.

Once you open this door, like toothpaste, once it is out of the tube, you cannot put it back in.

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