My Own `Special Comment` on Health Care Reform

(noon. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

I turned 42 years-old this year. I was in Saudi Arabia for Desert Shield in 1990 and inside of Iraq in 1991. After I left the military in 1996, I spent six years in law enforcement. Like other military members, and other law enforcement officers, I did a dangerous job fraught with personal health perils in order to serve other Americans.

As many who know me, or, who remember my DK diaries, you know that my health hasn’t been the best these past few years, and, because of it, neither has our financial situation been the best.

So, for my essay tonight, I’m going to follow Keith Olbermann’s special comment with one of my own…

I used to live a life many couldn’t fathom. It was dangerous. It was rewarding. And, it was a life I dreamed of from the time I was a child, when my grandfather, a former LA officer that retired from the court system as most officers do, drove me around the LA Police Academy. Many children have dreams of what they want to be when they grow up. Many never realize that dream. I did.

As a military member, my health care was government provided. Doctors, nurses, everyone who provided health care were military members themselves. It didn’t matter if I was injured at work, on base, off-duty, or outside of the base. If I was hurt, I had access to that health care for me, and later, for my wife. Medical and dental were provided to us.

As a law enforcement officer, my health care was provided by insurance. If I was injured on-the-job, the department covered all of the extra costs. If there is a situation wherein someone is not afforded the compensation that they are due, they can always challenge a denial by getting a lawyer on board to help them in this matter. I only had to worry about deductibles if I was injured off-duty. While I also got dental insurance, it was a private insurance plan.

After my back injury, any insurance I get now will consider it a pre-existing condition. Whether this injury rears its head in 5 years, or 10 years, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that, despite having back surgery, there will come a point where it will deteriorate. I do hope that spinal decompression is an option for me next time. When that happens, I will not have insurance that I can rely upon. Worse still, is that after my back injury, and surgery, I fell into chronic depression. This, too, can be considered a pre-existing condition.

I am working now to get retrained, to get a skill that I can market and again work. I am getting this training through another government-run program that assists people with disabilities. I have already gotten my computer Comptia A+ certification and am working on my Comptia Security+ certification.

Far from being a “free-loader” who is irresponsible, who have run up huge credit debt, I used the small settlement from my back injury to pay off all of the outstanding credit and both cars. I even refinanced the mortgage to try and get the rate lower. Even with having done that, my wife and I are barely making the bills and having food to eat. Even though she has insurance through her job, we simply have to put off going to a doctor because even $25 is too much to spend unless it’s an emergency. Frankly, we are part of the millions of people in America that are one injury, one accident, away from bankruptcy.

I should finish my security certification right before the holidays. But, when unemployment is at 9.8% nationwide, and higher in my state, there is no telling when I will, once again, be working. Until that time, we scrimp, try to keep our head above water, and hope our vehicles don’t break down.

Almost every one of us have stories about health care, whether it was your father and mother like Keith Olbermann, or, a career-ending injury like mine. At Town Hall meetings, we have seen person after person relate their own stories to Senators and Representatives. We’ve also seen how some of these politician’s responded; with apathy, sneers, and just “go away”.

Some may see some sign when a Republican politician admits that the GOP could have fixed the health care crisis years ago;

an CNBC debate with Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) today, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) railed against a government takeover of health care until CNBC host John Harwood interjected and asked him, “Congressman, do you not agree that the private market is failing the American patient right now?” Paul agreed that we “do not have a market system working in health care today,” and said, “Let’s fix health care, let’s fix insurance, let’s make sure the uninsured get insured, let’s make sure we have a fix for people with pre-existing conditions.” Frank then interjected and called Ryan out:

FRANK: I just want to ask Paul one question. … When did you figure that out? Because apparently for the 12 years that the Republicans were in control – eight of which had a Republican president – that hadn’t occurred to you. So I’m glad you now understand that. Can you tell me at what moment the revelation occurred?

RYAN: First of all, I introduced on this subject about six years ago.

FRANK: You had control of the Congress. Why didn’t the Republican Congress fix it?

RYAN: I will have a moment of bipartisan agreement. We should have fixed this under our watch and I’m frustrated we didn’t.

That’s nice. You should have. Instead, under the GOP `watch`, we got screwed with the Bankruptcy Bill and the Vaccine Immunity Bill.

Or, that some of the Republicans are `seeing the light` when they voted to pass Sen. Franken’s amendment defunding contractors that don’t allow victims of rape to have a day in court;

In 2005, Jamie Leigh Jones was gang-raped by her co-workers while she was working for Halliburton/KBR in Baghdad. She was detained in a shipping container for at least 24 hours without food, water, or a bed, and “warned her that if she left Iraq for medical treatment, she’d be out of a job.” (Jones was not an isolated case.) Jones was prevented from bringing charges in court against KBR because her employment contract stipulated that sexual assault allegations would only be heard in private arbitration.

Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) proposed an amendment to the 2010 Defense Appropriations bill that would withhold defense contracts from companies like KBR “if they restrict their employees from taking workplace sexual assault, battery and discrimination cases to court.” Speaking on the Senate floor yesterday, Franken said:

The constitution gives everybody the right to due process of law … And today, defense contractors are using fine print in their contracts do deny women like Jamie Leigh Jones their day in court. … The victims of rape and discrimination deserve their day in court [and] Congress plainly has the constitutional power to make that happen.

On the Senate floor, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) spoke against the amendment, calling it “a political attack directed at Halliburton.” Franken responded, “This amendment does not single out a single contractor. This amendment would defund any contractor that refuses to give a victim of rape their day in court.”

30 Republican senators voted against the amendment, including Sen. David Vitter (R-LA).

If, indeed, Republican support is coming, we are, frankly, screwed. When you have Democrats in charge of the Senate and House, and yet, this occurs, there is a problem and it can only get worse;

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce lobbied for the Senate Appropriations Committee to weaken a ban on government contracts with “inverted corporations,” reports The Hill on Wednesday. Inverted corporations are domestic companies that set up nominal overseas headquarters to dodge U.S. taxes.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group raised hell about “a big corporate loophole” that found its way into the Senate version of an appropriations bill. The offending language says that the ban on contracts for inverted corporations “shall not apply to the extent that it is inconsistent with the United States obligations under an international agreement.”

U.S. PIRG points out that many known tax havens, such as the Cayman Islands, are parties to international agreements that could exempt companies “based” there from the ban. The Chamber of Commerce says, “We don’t want to be violating trade agreements.”

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) had no problem with the new language in the bill. Back in 2002, she had some very strong words about inverted corporations. From The Hill:

“These companies create phony foreign headquarters in a file folder or a mailbox to escape taxes and then use other people’s taxes to turn a profit,” Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said at the time.

Collins, the ranking Republican on the Senate Appropriations subcommittee that considered the spending bill with the proposed limit on the ban, said Tuesday that she didn’t think the new language would make it easy for companies to circumvent the law and escape taxation.

“That’s not how I interpret it,” she told The Hill when asked about concerns over the new language. “I do support the ban.”

Seven of Collins’s top 20 campaign contributors had a combined 437 subsidiaries in countries listed as tax havens or “financial privacy jurisdictions” in 2007, according to a December report by the Government Accountability Office.

We are in trouble, ie screwed, because Republicans are still working to give the corporation every right, every power they can despite being in the minority. This means that they are doing so with the help of Democrats.

If the final bill contains an individual mandate to purchase insurance, there will be millions more pushed into bankruptcy, and, I will likely be one of them. From what I have heard being debated, that mandate would be tracked by the IRS and everyone would have to file their insurance on their tax forms. First, so they can identify the individuals and track them, then second, to penalize those who couldn’t afford it.

There may be a day when I turn my extensive security experience and computer security knowledge into a job making good money. There may be a day when I can afford things again, like, dental work, medical checkups, or a battery for my car. But that day isn’t today. What I know, today, is that what we need as a country isn’t what we are going to get.

The only way to stop our system is to:

– Have firm term limits

– Public funding for campaigns, or at least, low caps on how much corporations can donate.

– Letting companies `too big to fail` TO fail

– Letting insurance companies that might fail with a public option TO fail, or, change their business model and practices.

I don’t see any of those occurring. Do you?

4 comments

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    • banger on October 9, 2009 at 4:39 am

    There’s no way any reform is possible under the current political conditions which have absolutely nothing to do with which political party is in power. We are talking power relations. When liberal/progressives can seriously hurt the oligarchy and it’s paid politicians then we are talking about political power and the possibility of reforms. Without it there’s no power only talk.

    The notion current in progressive circles that we can appeal to the better side of the oligarchy is foolish in the extreme. These people may have compassion in their private lives but as a class they are firm on maintaining control.

    Health-care reform that is not about completely enslaving the population to the HC industry is possible though doubtful but election reform is completely out of the question.

  1. Here’s yet more on and a possible new “angle.”

    I’m going to try and get back to this in the a.m.  We MUST be vigilant, very vigilant and RESPONSIVE — we MUST read any and all of the pertinent language in any of these Congressional or Senatorial bills, or we’re GOING TO BE SCREWED, YET AGAIN, AND BIG TIME!  

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