I missed my baby’s basketball lessons last week (sniff, sniff). I really hate not seeing him play. And he told me “mama, I missed your screaming and cheering”. AHHHH….[insert sound of heart breaking!]. But I made the decision to go on a short professional trip which means I chose not to be there. I expect the hypocrite claims to be flung around anytime now… But here’s where you’re horribly uninformed: I don’t believe moms who work outside of the home are making the wrong choice. My entire vantage point is that women should have the right to make whatever choice they want and not be judged for it or deemed less valuable solely because of their tax returns (why is it that everything I choose to do outside of my home – and I do a quite a bit – is solely pro bono?! I don’t get paid for anything!! I need to rethink my choices! 😉 ). I wasn’t a worse mom for choosing to attend a conference out of town, but I was a different mom and staying at home continues to be the right choice for me, for now. Anyhoooo…that argument isn’t the intent of this blog so I’ll leave the proverbial dead horse alone.
I went to the Washington D.C. area on the invitation of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation to be a part of a committee that will be responsible for creating and implementing policy guidelines for all lung transplant centers within the United States and Canada (I know! I’m a big deal, eh?!). (1) I was the patient representative in a room of select reputable medical directors, pulmonologists and top brass of the CF Foundation (in all, a total of less than 15 people). I’m honored to have been considered for the position and thrilled to start working with everyone.
That said, while I left having learned a lot (and eager to learn more!) I also left feeling validated: my original concern was reinforced by all of those medical professionals (and most of the medical community as a whole).
“What the hell is wrong with this country?”
Yeah, I said it. And I mean it. And before you get all ‘judgey’ on me (you’re correct, that’s legal jargon) and throw out the unintelligent, ill-advised and injudicious argument that I have no right to comment since I’m not an American citizen, take a step back and realize that there’s no need to feel threatened just because someone else is making an intelligent argument that doesn’t jive with your moral compass.
This is not a political post. I repeat, NOT a political post. I don’t care if you voted Trump or Clinton. I have plenty of friends and family that don’t share the same political views as me and that’s ok: it doesn’t mean they’re any less of a quality person. A democracy works best when there are opposing ideas and citizens debate the issues on their merits. I can debate either side of immigration reform and how it can best be solved (because we all agree it needs to be); how to achieve economic growth and prosperity should also be debated. Gun control, entitlement programs, military aptitude, tax policy, foreign trade, foreign policy, yadda, yadda, yadda …those can and should all be debated with political talking points. This blog has nothing to do with anything political though; it has to do with HEALTH CARE. Yeah, you read right. It’s not political. Access to health care should not be a political issue so I won’t treat it as one for the purposes of this piece.
I don’t judge people based on their political affiliation and because I don’t think of health care as a political issue I don’t consider my next statement to be contradictory: if you think this country, the richest country in the world, doesn’t need to provide every citizen with health care regardless of what they earn then yes, I am judging you; I am judging your character and your morality. Money doesn’t buy your identity (oh, that’s a blog topic ripe for the pickin’!) but it still fuels this dumb ‘snake oil’-of-a debate: “why should I pay for others to have access to health care”? Don’t worry, you won’t be driven into poverty for thinking of your fellow citizen (GASP! “Fanny…you mean to tell me that some people are so selfish that it all comes down to the power that socioeconomic inequality reinforces?!” Sad, but true). The battle between ‘me’ and ‘them’ is so misplaced here. There are no ‘sides’ to this issue. Who’s on the side of letting people suffer and die needlessly?!
[Again, if I field any “hypocrite” claims because I said “I’m judging you” they’re misguided. I started this blog and used myself as an example to encourage you to value yourself enough to stop with the superficiality and ‘fakeness’ of putting forth the best ‘image’ (besides promoting organ donation, of course!). I never said you need to stop judging me all together: we, as humans, judge EVERYTHING. We are constantly judging ourselves and others; every minutia of information that comes our way feeds into our narrative by comparison. Our consciousness demands it (does this sound like an existential self-help lecture yet?). But, instead of having people judge me based on some sort of perfectly fabricated public version of myself, I want you to judge me based on my substance, my core. Now, if you like it, you’re welcome. If not, well….let’s just say, I don’t care all that much. So, yeah, I’m ok with the judgment factor. Correct me if the basis of said judgment about you is wrong, but if it’s not, then you should own your truth with confidence. I know I am now. Back to the topic at hand…]
So again, this is NOT a political post. Access to health care SHOULD NOT be a political issue; it’s a MORAL one. Your position on how one should be able to access health care doesn’t tell me whether you’re blue or red or liberal or conservative or a donkey or an elephant; it tells me what kind of moral fabric weaves your character. Health care shouldn’t be used as a pawn in a game of political chess; how much money you have shouldn’t dictate your access to health care. Now, we can and should debate how that should be done because that is where the REAL disagreements should come in. Let’s debate where we get the money (tax allocation and budget redistribution), who should oversee its implementation and maintenance on every level, how to create the infrastructure, regulatory considerations, etc, etc, etc. Let’s even debate how to integrate private, free-market insurance within a safety net system for those that don’t have it. But what we CAN’T do is debate WHO should be able to consistently access quality health care. And yes, everyone knows just “how complicated health care is” (I continue to literally laugh out loud at that one!) which is why we need to work together to make it viable for EVERYONE. Forget red and blue. Let’s all be purple on this one! #purpleforthewin
This isn’t inconsequential; life, liberty, religious freedom, equality under the law among others …they’re all constitutionally guaranteed (btw… if you’re not familiar with the actual text of the constitution or its original intent of being a “living, breathing document” as society changes then you don’t need to even consider this conversation because it’s over your head). But yet, health care is still contentious – it baffles me.
[I always ask my husband to proof read my blog before I post it and he tells me “this is very well written. But you don’t really personalize the topic” so here I go:]
At the CFF consortium meeting we discussed an interesting recent article of original research that concluded Canadian CF patients outlived their American counterparts by over 10 years. (2) BUT…if you had private health insurance in the United States, it found no significant statistical difference between the two populations. Exactly. No one was surprised. Especially not this Canadian import. If you have Medicare/Medicaid or no insurance in the U.S. expect to die much earlier – simple as that. My parents didn’t and don’t have private insurance – they immigrated to Canada from Greece and my father was a construction worker his entire life. I would not have had the life I have now had they immigrated to the U.S. With almost medical certainty, had I not have had the access to health care I did growing up I would have endured a lot more complications and would have probably required a life-saving transplant much earlier. But if we were living in the United States, that would not have been an option because they didn’t have private insurance (would they have been able to afford our education? Would we have had a nice house, reliable cars, vacations? No. Because they would have been scrambling to keep me healthy). Therefore, their daughter would have died and you would not be enjoying my blogs and praising God for the woman I am today. Before you jump the gun again, YES, I recognize I enjoy EXCELLENT care and received my transplant here in the U.S. but ONLY because my husband is successful and has a great career with an employer who has solid benefits. How sad is it that once we started dating and began getting serious about our relationship, my first questions were “what type of insurance do you have? How about pre-existing conditions? How about supporting spouses?” and not “do you put your dirty clothes in the hamper or toss them on the floor? Do you snore? Do you love Mary J. Blige as much as I do (because that’s a deal breaker)?” I couldn’t move to the U.S. to live with the man I love without being sure I was covered under his insurance first. My point is people shouldn’t suffer and die begging for health care in this country because they can’t afford it; how deplorable to think that they should.
I learned through the CFF’s consortium that I’m not only the voice of a patient that feels like this but that we, as patients, have the full support of our medical community. Everyone at some point is a patient. Everyone at some point wants the security of knowing that their country won’t abandon them when they are the most vulnerable (notwithstanding the upside to preventative medicine too). Whether they’re acting in their capacity as physician or loved one or patient, they’re human (not red or blue, but human). Our medical professionals aren’t failing us – they support us. But damned if all that money and political power doesn’t get in the way of them doing just that.
Are you sensing a different tone in this particular blog? You should. Because I’m pissed off. I’m angry that some people in this country (a lot less than that group would like to admit though) still argue that government should be so removed from our lives that they shouldn’t help provide the infrastructure to help us live. I get that you don’t want government in our lives and that’s a legitimate political stance, but again, this isn’t political: what’s more important to “life and liberty” than our health?! No other issues matter if we’re dying! What a selfish, backwards, stupid argument (how’s that for eloquent?). We trust our medical professionals. We trust our doctors and nurses, so let’s trust them when they all band together to argue the same thing (because damn near the ENTIRE MEDICAL COMMUNITY agrees):
It’s not a political issue – it’s a moral one!
What kind of black heart wants people to fend for themselves and earn their way into private insurance as the ONLY means to health care? What kind of black heart revels in socioeconomics dividing our country up into the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’ when it comes to having reasonably accessible health care? I can argue and play devils’ advocate on any topic (like a great attorney!) – except this one. I just can’t see any argument that works; I can’t see any point that makes legal, medical, economical, political or common sense in support of the argument that how much money you earn should dictate your accessibility to health care. None. Not one. And maybe this is the chance to ask those that think there is to make it. Go ahead. Make your case. Go ahead, prove your argument, just make sure it’s rational and reasonable. I’m waiting…I suspect I’ll be waiting a LONG time for a “rational and reasonable” one. I guess I’ll have to sit back, wait, then wait some more and when I’m getting frustrated with all that waiting, continue to wait some more and just… breathe.
(1) Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Steering Committee Consortium, Bethesda, MD, 18 April 2017.
(2) ”Survival Comparison of Patients With Cystic Fibrosis in Canada and the United States.” Annals of Internal Medicine, retrieved from Annals.org. Stephenson, Anne L. MD, PhD et al. 14 March 2017.
Side note: When I walked through the airport dressed as a professional I got a certain reaction. As soon as I put the mask on, it was a COMPLETELY different reaction (I don’t wear one but sometimes I prefer to be extra vigilant like on the cesspools we call ‘airplanes’). Like, actual stares, glares and comments. Tell me why? Am I suddenly a sympathy case or a potential threat? I don’t know…stay tuned for future blogs…