Health care is a basic human right, not a privilege. For some reason, we’ve allowed ourselves as Americans to be fooled into accepting that one must be blessed with “means” to actuate appropriate health care. As a nation we have failed to realize that our health care system is a barometer of our society’s value for human life.


Monday, December 31, 2007

CGM MiniLink Ordered!

I’ve waited a long time for this day, and I’m hopeful that my “new” insurance company doesn’t boot my hopeful ass out in the parking lot with this order. When I called my new insurance company they stated that I don’t even need a prior authorization for this product. The person (people) I spoke to were one of the following three things:

1. Liars
2. Misinformed
3. Extremely helpful well-informed and accurate customer service representatives

If I were to heed the law of averages (how often have your health insurance customer service reps been helpful, well-informed, & accurate), I would be pretty bummed right now, but I’m not allowing myself to feel the pain of the “what ifs” of 1 & 2.

Obviously, I’ll let you know what happens. Till then, take care, and damnit, happy New Year!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Back Pain, Low Blood Sugars, and Lost Weight

I began 2007 weighing a prime 174 pounds. I will begin 2008 weighing a mere 157 lbs. At 5'7, 157 lbs. I am now no longer considered overweight by the stiff medical profession. I am also not exercising as often (but I am exercising), nor am I running, but perhaps at some point in 2008 I will resume my old patterns of exercise. I should hope that I will be able to as I continue to build up strength in my leg and back and decrease my pain level.

I had my back surgery in September of 2007. Tough stuff. I mean, the back surgery is tough. I am experiencing a lot of residual pain in my back which has required more vigorous pain management than I had anticipated. Currently I am doing physical therapy strength training twice a week for 50 minutes, and in January I will begin myofascial release therapy on my back as well. I switched from daily taking a Lorcet or two (way too strong for daily use!) to now I am taking trammadol a few times a day with ibuprofen to help manage pain. I would have to say that post-surgical pain in my lower back has been the most frustrating part of my experience. While I have gained a huge amount of strength in my leg and I no longer walk with a limp (or gimp), the pain is something I daily deal with. I hope that with the aggressive treatment plan I have that the pain will continue to improve. On a positive note, the pain has been improving and I have been able to reduce my trammadol intake from 8-10 tablets per day to around 6 per day.

Since my surgery my insulin intake has drastically reduced. I used to take around 40 - 45 units of novolog per day, now I am taking 20 -25. I am having a LOT of lows lately, and I've been reducing my basals like clockword (meaning every other day). With a track record like this, January 2nd can't come fast enough (that is when I order my MINILINK!)

Oh, and my a1c? The joy that it is was recently 7.6, which is the highest it has been in three years. At this height, all it can do is go down right? And with the lows I've been having I'm sure it will! I'm hopeful, also, about the Minilink technology assisting me in lowering my average sugars. I typically don't feel my lows, which means I tend to let them run a bit higher if I can't check every hour. There is a lot of fear involved with not being able to sense low blood sugars!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

But Isn’t She a Diabetic?

The choices one makes as an individual with type 1 diabetes regarding food(or the mother of a child with type 1 diabetes) are not choices that should be spotlighted with intent to denigrate said choices.

A person with diabetes (or a child with diabetes) should not (and in my family will not) be limited in their food choices merely due to the presence of sugar (or other simple carbohydrates). For those who are not aware, the dietary guidelines for type 1 diabetes are extremely individualized and very much different (and at times contrary to) from the dietary guidelines for a person with type 2 diabetes controlling their blood sugars with diet.

You may (and should) refrain from raised, questioning eyebrows in response to any mention of cake consumption in my family. We can, and do (but not necessarily often) eat cake in my household. We are particularly fond of tiramisu, which may be one limiting factor in regards to our cake consumption. Please note that the limiting factors in regards to the “sweets we eat” typically does not include the fact that two individuals in my home have “the diabetes.” Typical limiting factors of “the sweet” include:

1. Refusal to eat green beans (You can’t have any pudding if you don’t eat your meat (veggies.))
2. Prior “sweet” ingestion in that same day.
3. Whether or not we like the “sweet” in question.
4. Time and motivation to “prepare the sweet.”

I have diabetes. She has diabetes. Wouldn’t you like to have diabetes, too? (sung to a tune, you know the tune.)

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Behaviors & What Came First?

I have quite a bit of experience with “behaviors” in children seeing as how my son’s disability seems to be primarily distinguishable (at least initially) by his “behaviors”. I have a hard time with that word, because the implication isn’t a good one at all. What this doesn’t communicate is that my son’s behaviors (and my daughter’s for that matter) are a means to an end, a communication when communication is extremely difficult. I have been blessed in many ways because my son does communicate verbally very well, but that does not mean that he lacks in his “non-verbal” communications in any way. In fact, Sandis often tells me some of the most important things by his actions rather than his words.

While browsing comments on another blog recently, I came across a few comments that irked me to no end, which got me thinking on this topic. One comment was that this reader knows for a “fact” that single mothers train their children to act out in school in order to receive SSI payments for them. Don’t even get me started on this one. The other comment was that oftentimes a child’s behaviors are a result of a lack of structure or boundaries provided by the parent. This stopped me, and in a sense confused me.

If the nature of a child’s disability is defined in part by their unawareness of specific structures and boundaries (whether they are provided or not), how can one truly judge if their lack of boundaries is parent-induced or more a symptom of the child’s disability?

I have to admit, I am sympathetic to a fault to all the parents in grocery stores or any store that are having behavior issues with their children. Why? Because every single time I go to the store with my son it is difficult, at times tear-inducing, and certainly fear-inducing. Sandis will tell you, frustration etched into his brow, how much he hates stores. He says it is loud and there is too much going on and he isn’t able to make good choices in them. In tears he will tell you how hard he tried but there were just “too many people.”

It is these times, or later as I reflect on them, that the dirty looks I am often the recipient of in stores don’t mean as much, or sting as much. I think that these people really don’t know, and how could they? Compassion for the parent and child is certainly lacking in these parts (America) and typically a non-typical child minus a physically apparent disability isn’t going to get much sympathy from anyone (but you will get several offers of a good ‘ol American style beating.)

Behaviors will never deter us from going to the store. It will always be hard. One day little man Sandis is going to have to go to the store alone, and what will he do if he cannot? Sandis needs to be able to learn to shop on his own, independently.

My child’s behavior in a store is not a reflection of me, nor is it a reflection of the efficacy of my parenting. He cannot currently act appropriately the entire time in a store, but with redirection, and a lot of practice he will learn. And when is the best time for him to learn? It seems quite the Catch 22 to not take my son to the store to learn how to act appropriately there because he cannot yet act appropriately the entire time he is at the store.
I firmly believe that as a parent it is not my job to control my children but to teach them. This may be hard to understand for the “Children should be seen (sometimes) but certainly not heard (ever)” generation, but it is more on target for positive growth than any other tactic.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Good People - Party Bias

This past weekend, I have had the opportunity to hear some of the views of family members from a party that is, well, not "my" party.

Perhaps I disagreed with them. Perhaps I found some of their points interesting. What I left with, though, is not something on which to base further Republican and Democratic fisticuffs, but something else.

Good people are not confined to one party, or the other. Before all my reading Democrats get riled up (haha) about all the evil Republicans that abound, I remind you that despite the differing views between parties, the two parties NEED to talk (communicate, not just like talk at eachother) in order to create policy that is both effective and able to be signed into law.

I'm fairly certain that the party I associate with (not telling) is pretty clear to most by the less than "conservative" views I tend to have. I must say, though, that although my views may not be considered "conservative" I am not sure how recognizing that adequate health care for ALL not just an elite FEW can ever be perceived as "liberal".

I have many family members on the other side of the fence that I love. I have many family members on my side of the grass that I love as well. We have different politics, but in the end, we basically (I think) want to accomplish the same things for our loved ones. It is all about how we get there.

I encourage any of you (all of you) to jump the fence at some point this week and open up conversation (however limited, as long as it is a give and take) with someone on the other side, and lets get a "bipartisan" movement truly happening; first in communities. Perhaps then our "representatives" will follow suit.

Friday, December 21, 2007

In Response

Christine-Megan had a great comment on my last post, so great that I had to dedicate an entire post to respond to it.

I agree that healthcare isn't nearly what it should be here and a lot of people get screwed, but I'm not sure what the solution is.
Healthcare as it is in the UK or Canada scares the crap out of me.
It's HARD to get a pump in the UK, and I like my pump.
I know people in Canada that bought their's out of pocket.

Why does it scare the crap out of you? Maybe it is news, but it can be fairly hard to get a pump in the United States as well. First of all, you must meet at least one of the following criteria in order to get a pump in the US: Be well-to-do or have pretty damn good insurance. If you are well-to-do then you can afford the co-pays & deductibles of your insurance to not only initiate pump therapy but also continue it. You also have the option of paying for a pump out of your own pocket if you are well-to-do and your insurance doesn’t feel that it is a medical necessity. If you aren’t well to do, then you can pay your percentages, co-pays and deductibles, and hope it doesn’t bankrupt you with your current insurance policy to continue pump therapy.

So who in the US doesn’t get the option at all? The un-insured and the under-insured. They can’t get a pump at all. The un-insured can’t afford to buy a pump out-of-pocket nor can they afford the supplies needed to maintain therapy. The under-insured, even if their insurance approves the purchase of a pump and covers part of the cost, still can’t afford their portion.

So I guess that it is easy to get a pump in the US if you meet certain class criteria (see above). If you don’t, sorry man, you are out of luck.

When I needed a neurology consult, I got one in 2 days here. I can often get into the doctor's office the next day if I need to. When I needed a CT scan, I got one that day.
My family in the UK has connections and they wait a LONG time to see a specialist.
When I was observing in the ICU there was a patient there who's family was paying out of pocket for him to be in the ICU here, because the one in Canada was full.
That scares me.

I find this interesting because the US of A has fewer doctors, fewer nurses, and fewer hospital beds per capita than the average country in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.

(I stole the above reference from “Your Pharmacist May Hate You”. Hop on over and take a look at his blog.)

As they say- access, quality, affordability- pick any 2.

And the uninsured and underinsured of America have which of these? That’s right, none.

I’d love to share with you a personal story about a man I know, a man I know and love, who just so happens to be uninsured.

This man is a small business owner (we’re talking one man crew), and at the tender age of 35 he discovered (quite painfully) that he has a congenital defect of his urethra which over the course of his life caused his urethra to completely close.

In significant (excruciating) amounts of pain, this man went to visit the Emergency Room. Upon finding out that he had no insurance, they performed a uroscopy on this man under local anesthesia to widen and open his urethra. So basically, what they did (in laymen’s terms) is they put a long camera up his urethra (penis) while he was fully awake and somewhat anesthesized (thanks to fentanyl) and used rods to widen his urethra so it was no longer closed. Typically this type of procedure is done in an OR under general anesthesia, but why waste the time and money on someone who probably can’t pay for the expense in the first place?

This man wore a catheter for two weeks, and after this period followed up with a clinic in the hospital, where they informed him that if he had insurance (or once he had insurance) they would schedule surgery to correct the problem with his urethra. In the mean time, he would have to self-catheterize himself daily (with the same catheter no less) for at least two weeks to help assure that his urethra would stay open longer. They prescribed him some empiric antibiotics (levaquin) to help fight off certain infection for a period of two months and sent him off on his way.

Oh, and his bill? Over $10,000. He was billed over $10,000 for sub-par care that did not take into account his pain level (in the hospital nor at home) nor his capabilities to perform the tasks requested of him, tasks that are typically reserved for a home-health nurses. The care also did not correct his problem, and this problem is likely to (will) happen again when their temporary solution runs its course. And then? Another $10,000 bill this man cannot pay.

To this day approximately one year later, this man still has not had the surgery to repair his urethra, and fortunately, has not yet had another problem.

Is this the type of care we want for our loved ones (or ourselves?) should they not have health insurance? This is just one story, I’d love to hear more.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

On Universal Health Care in the United States

I am not quite sure how it happened, but somehow, the American Public has been brainwashed into believing that socialized healthcare is a “bad” thing.

You know what, I’m sure all that popular media is right. Socialized health care must be bad, especially in light of our current system and how remarkably well it works. We are most certainly on the right track. Socialized health care is clearly evil, and damnit, poor people really don’t DESERVE to be healthy anyhow.

Wait, not poor people. I mean, poor people qualify for Medicaid which in many states pays for just about EVERYTHING (I mean, everything unless you need something like a tooth filling or a pair of glasses that aren’t plastic taped together at the ends). So who exactly is it that we have decided don’t really DESERVE to be healthy?

That’s right. We’ve very clearly made our point in America on how we feel about the working poor, the working lower middle class, and the working middle class. We really don’t give a shit about them. If they get sick and can’t afford their co-pays, premiums, and deductibles that’s really too bad. They should have saved better. You know, taken advantage of that Health Savings Account we made available to them when we made their deductibles $2000.

You say their maximum out-of-pocket expenses are 1/3 of their income eh? That isn’t affordable? It is really all about budgeting. Perhaps they can’t really afford that cell phone. And maybe they really shouldn’t be driving that car. Plenty of public transportation around these parts. Maybe even they shouldn’t own a home, being of moderate means and unable to devote 1/3 of their income to health expenses. It is all about fiscal responsibility. My taxes shouldn’t pay for your health.

As American people who are touched by the injustice of the current health care system and how it DOES NOT WORK we need to SPEAK OUT about our needs and how they are not being met. Plenty of countries have made universal health a universal goal, with amazing results. Health care is not a “for-profit” endeavor, nor should it be. It is not ethical to approach it as such, and it is a burden on families and individuals as more and more of the inordinate costs of AMERICAN health care are pushed upon us.

Why are more people not outraged? Have we forgotten how to activate our anger rather than dispose of it in apathy?

The following site was brought to my attention recently. I am not sure if this is my answer to the health care situation in the United States but it is a start. And that is something.

I plan to speak at the Minnesota Legislature in Saint Paul in March about Health Care. I am going to do this, and in doing so I am depending on people (which means every single person who is affected by the shitty state of health care in the United States) to make their needs known as an echo of the story I have to tell to the legislators. My story is one story. But there are thousands.

We cannot be satisfied with band-aids. Health care should be, and needs to be, universal and affordable for people of all incomes and all health conditions. Health care must be transportable and must not be dependent on a job.

Remember, today, how to find your outrage. Focus this outrage and let’s make a difference that really freakin’ matters.

Monday, December 17, 2007

On Her Own

Gracie is my independent peanut. Truly.

A couple of weeks ago the battery on Gracie’s One Touch Ultra 2 died. Me, the ever fiscally responsible one, determined that it would be cheaper for us to REPLACE her glucometer than to replace the batteries. Shoving her “old” glucometer aside for when purchasing batteries is cheaper than purchasing an entire new glucometer, we opened the joy that a new glucometer is.

It really wasn’t all that different, except for the fact that the new finger pokers are awful little, which just so happens to work fairly well for my awfully little Gracie. The end result of all of this? Gracie is now successfully checking her blood sugar by herself. She is four, so she still isn’t quite reading the numbers, but she is checking her blood sugar herself and bringing the meter to me to look at. Quite a crafty little girl she is. She took it upon herself to learn how to do this, and me being the ever-scrupulous warden of much-too-little time, figured this would be a great way for her to take more control of her diabetes and at the same time allot me a few extra moments whenever the time may be that she needs to check her blood sugar.

Fabulous really.

I’ve read of other parents feeling sad as their child takes on more independence in their diabetes care. I waited to feel sad, some mopiness, something. But I just didn’t feel that. I have been living with diabetes for over 16 years, and I know better than many that if Gracie is going to have success with her care it is going to be because of things SHE does. I hope that I can lead by example, and I hope I can light a fire under her to want to invest the kind of time, energy, and emotion that diabetes requires for management, but in the end, it is ALL ON HER.

I understand she is four. She doesn’t have to do all of this yet. Yes, she is four, and my heart has broken a thousand times because of her diabetes diagnosis. But, imagine what she will be doing independently with her diabetes care when she is eight? She is four, and she is fabulous, and she is starting to take ownership of her diabetes care. And that is just awesome.

Friday, December 14, 2007

2008 – New Arrivals

This is the time of year that not only are most of us in the midst of some sort of Christmas (Holiday?) consumer frenzy, but we are also anticipating a change that the new year often brings. What is this change? Annual Health Benefit changes, that’s what.

This in and of itself is enough to bring most individuals with chronic conditions (or family members with chronic conditions) to their knees consumed with stress. Changes that employers make to group plans are typically not favorable. Here are some examples of “positive” cost-saving changes an employer may make:

1. Increase deductibles (You know, from something like $500 to $850)
2. Switch all health plans to high-deductible consumer-driven plans (Suddenly your deductible becomes $1500 - $2000 from the $500 it was the year before)
3. Increase specialist co-pays (From something like $20 a visit to something like $40 a visit)
4. Increase the percentages YOU pay (last year you were on a 90/10, this year it is an 80/20)
5. Force you to buy all maintenance meds from a mail-order pharmacy AND increase your prescription co-pays AND decrease your formulary (which seriously, it isn’t like that generic co-pay applies to ANYTHING I would need for my diabetes)
6. Decrease the amount of annual coverage allowed for DME (Durable Medical Equipment)
7. Increase the maximum out-of-pocket allowed OR decrease what is an “approved” out-of-pocket expense.
8. And last but least satisfying for most employers (it seems employers want to be a bit sneakier in how they bankrupt you with health expenses, premiums are much too obvious!) raise premiums!

These are just a few of the “positive” life-altering changes our employers make every year in regards to our health care which has individuals scrambling trying to figure out how exactly they are going to make it another year, with the rules changing once again. Fun stuff.

So what did my employer do?

Haha. Funny that you ask. My employer was “bought” and “integrated” and as a result, we have “adopted” our “new company’s” health plan which just so happens to be a choice of the following:
High Deductible Health Plan, 80/20
Consumer Driven Health Plan ($1375 Employer paid followed by $1125 Member Responsibility (a huge delayed deductible) followed by 80/20)
Some Really Shitty PPO 80/20 with like 80 dollar RX co-pays and 40 dollar co-pays for everything else that don’t count for out of pocket expenses

Ever wake up one day and wonder what the F*** happened? Ya, sometimes I feel like that.

So I chose the consumer driven health plan, out of desperation really. The PPO was seriously so shitty I computed about $8000 in out of pocket expenses. I figured there was no freakin way I could afford the “shitty” coverage it offered on some sort of “Gold Standard” pretense. What-the-F***-ever. How this consumer driven health plan works is that your first $1375 in medical expenses is completely covered 100%, followed by a $1125 member responsibility (one month’s worth of test strips for Gracie & myself), followed by 80/20 coverage for everything (including RX’s) and no co-pays. There is a maximum $4500 out of pocket on this plan. Fiscally, this plan was the most responsible. I’m bracing for a tough year, but I’m crossing my fingers things will all work out (It just has to).

So on the flip side, I do a little research, and this CDHC thing does have its perks. For one, continuous glucose monitoring is an approved DME expense and does not even require prior authorization. So you know what? Jan 2, 2008 I am going to buy myself a REALTIME monitoring system and I am on my way with continuous glucose monitoring. Even better, Medtronic will bill my insurance and I will pay 0% of cost because it will fall (and practically deplete) my first $1375.

So, I guess next year really is a new year. It doesn’t mean I’m all that happy about the health insurance situation, but I have managed to find the silver lining.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Last Night's Town Legislative Forum

So yesterday evening was my big “day”. I had the opportunity to share “my story” with Minnesota state legislators, or more correctly “Gracie’s story” in regards to losing her secondary Medicaid coverage beginning January 2008 because our income will no longer qualify her for coverage.

Legislators in attendance were Larry Haws, Larry Hosch, Tarryl Clark, Steve Gottwalt, and Dan Severson. Other local elected officials that attended were Stearns County Commissioner Dewayne Mareck and Saint Cloud City Council member Bob Johnson.

You can read more about this town forum here.

The reporter of this article did not capture the message my story emphasized. I expressed the need to increase the income and asset standards for Medicaid so more people could qualify. Even with health coverage, I explained that because of chronic conditions in my family, we are forced into poverty to pay for these conditions and we are just barely over the 150% of poverty limit for Medicaid eligibility. I know that my story is not singular, but is just one of many stories like it. Families need the additional coverage and security that Medicaid allows, especially when their children have chronic health conditions. With the trend of higher co-pays, high premiums, and high deductibles, having commercial health insurance is less and less meaningful, especially for lower and middle income families.

After the forum, I was approached by several people to thank me for telling my story. I was also asked to tell my story at the capitol (Saint Paul, where all the MN state legislative “magic” happens) next year. Apparently there is a bill that has been written, but not passed, that will do just what my story emphasized the need for: Raise the income and asset limits for Medicaid eligibility.

I don’t know how often or how strongly I can emphasize the need for all of us to tell their story to legislators. Without the human perspective a personal story lends, legislation is cold and made without regard to the humans it affects. You better believe that your legislators are being inundated by powerful lobbying from corporations with the money to back their requests. But last night, from legislators, I heard over and over again how important the personal stories of their constituents are. If we do not tell our stories to them, if you do not share the victories and trials you face in social programs, how can our legislators truly make informed choices in their votes?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Sandis and Self-Advocacy

Sandis has ideas about the services he is receiving in the school and the community. If something isn’t working well in school, he has an idea about why it isn’t going well. He may also have a solution. Sandis has thoughts and ideas and feelings about his life and all of his experiences and the people who work with Sandis need to make a conscious effort to find out what those thoughts, ideas, and feelings are. This will create a higher effectiveness when working with Sandis.

It sounds so simple. But how often when dealing with an issue with Sandis’s IEP have I asked Sandis what he thinks I should do? Not that often. Sadly.

So this time around, I decided to change that premise. I spent about an hour talking to Sandis about all sorts of things that we are going to talk about in the IEP meeting. I wrote down my questions, and more importantly I wrote down his answers word-for-word.

As a result of this communication with Sandis, the recipient of services, he and I came up with some pretty nifty ideas which are based on what he perceives his needs to be, not what professionals perceive his needs to be (although basically, he is spot-on). A few of these ideas are:
1. Offer gum, don’t just make it available, but offer it regularly. Sandis listens better with gum.
2. Remind Sandis to hurry up at lunch so he doesn’t lose valuable outside time.
3. Let Sandis take a “buddy” with him when he does his sensory diet.
4. Sandis has problems listening during math and paying attention because he already knows what they are going over. He isn’t being challenged in math, and needs more challenge to keep his attention.
5. Assign Sandis jobs in the classroom which will utilize his desire to be a helper and at the same time get him out of his desk and moving around the classroom.
6. Have Sandis help other students with reading.
7. Always have a helper for Sandis in music and gym because he really needs help in those classes and doesn’t like to get in trouble.

What is so cool about this is these ideas are a result of Sandis talking about his needs and his reasons for different behaviors. He was very up front about sometimes needing a helper, and he was also very up front about not liking being in trouble. He also emphasized over and over and over about how good of a helper he is. And ya know, it kind of does take a kid telling you “I don’t listen because I know it already” to realize that misbehavior in math has more to do with boredom than sensory over- or under-stimulation.

The lesson? Sometimes our most valuable resource in regards to making services in the community and at school work is the recipient of those services. I think the fancy word for this is person-centered-planning.

Monday, December 10, 2007

I'm Fairly Popular in These Parts

And I tend to get a lot of letters published in the paper.

Check it out! There isn't as many comments this go around, but of course, I did get the complimentary crabasses to respond.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Is Health Care a Right or a Privilege Reserved for the Wealthy?

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.

This is pulled from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was created in 1948.

On December 10, 1948 the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted and proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights the full text of which appears in the following pages. Following this historic act the Assembly called upon all Member countries to publicize the text of the Declaration and "to cause it to be disseminated, displayed, read and expounded principally in schools and other educational institutions, without distinction based on the political status of countries or territories."

I have a small booklet, which I received my first month at Partners, which has these very same rights printed in it. Why have we, as a nation, drifted away from distributing to our nation what at one point we agreed were fundamental rights of all people? Could it be, that perhaps, we don’t want people to know what their rights really are?

I understand this document is not the Constitution, and we as a nation are governed under the ideas and basic rights outlined in the Constitution. But at some point, more specifically, in 1948, our nation agreed also that the above rights were the basic rights of all people. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was intended to be meaningful to all countries and in all societies. When did we lose our way in this regard?

I hope you take a few minutes out of your day to read this entire declaration.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

On the DRA

I took a walk on my treadmill yesterday, and meanwhile afforded myself the opportunity to read a report on the DRA.

No. Not the NRA. The DRA.

I’m sure you’ve heard mention of the DRA here and there, and I’m sure the mention had all sorts of positive connotations. DRA = Deficit Reduction Act.
In this time of war, reducing deficits caused by a less-than-thrifty-in-regards-to-war-giddy President (notice I still use a CAPITAL “P”) is understandably a hot topic. We’ve borrowed our children’s and grandchildren’s futures to fund this war on “something but we aren’t quite sure what” so it makes sense that in an attempt to remedy this we create ways to reduce this deficit one way or another.

One way or another.

Back on Topic. So I was reading this Congressional Study on the DRA and I started to sweat. Not necessarily from my aerobic walking pace but more from a gut-wrenching rising fear.

Ever hear of cost-sharing? How about cost-sharing in regards to health insurance? (Certainly a hot topic among Republicans who seem to assume that all poor people are irrefutably irresponsible with their funds as evidenced by our poverty!) So how would you figure on cost-sharing for health insurance in the Medicaid sphere? As in shoving additional expenses on our most impoverished and vulnerable citizens and breaking their bank account (or more accurately lack of bank account) all for the benefit of a savings in the “several billion dollars” area for the good ‘ol Federal G’.

That extra $3 co-pay for their prescription drug will go a long way to save the government money namely why? Because many will “opt out” of their prescription because they do not know (nor is it a priority to have it be known) that they “DON’T HAVE TO PAY” the co-pay to receive the prescription. If they do pay, they literally are only paying back a portion of the federal welfare they are already receiving because they are either poor or disabled. How fucked up is that? Nothing screams USA quite like welfare charge-backs!

Of course, if you are a Medicaid recipient and you are not under the age of 21 or pregnant (sorry guys), you know this cost-sharing is already in effect. Did you also know that future plans in the DRA would remove that “DON’T HAVE TO PAY” clause, meaning that providers can REFUSE service or medication if the patient does not have the $3 to pay the co-pay? Perhaps, you say, this is no big deal. What is $3? Really?

If you are a recipient of SSI, $3 is a portion of your $637 monthly income which is expected to pay for:
1. Housing
2. Utilities
3. Transportation
4. Clothing
5. Food (in some cases)
6. Anything else you require to live and function independently

Work your budget on $637 a month and THEN you will begin to realize the importance of that $3 and the ridiculousness and inhumanity that this imposes.

This doesn’t even begin to address how the DRA will really “get you where it hurts” when you are elderly. Don’t even think about the repercussions if you are elderly AND disabled.

I am going to see about scanning in this report and posting it up here for review by loyal readers who are in for some dry yet frightening reading.

Ever feel like someone has pulled the wool over your eyes?

I do.

Want to read the report I read? I found it online. Go here and read it for yourself.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007


Check out my youtube channel.

I hope you enjoy your peak into our lives!