Expand or be Damned

From the time the first bill presented to Congress by President Barack Obama for Affordable Healthcare was released for public perusal, I have been reading and researching on it. Not as a constant of course, but as questions come up, I refer back to it and give the correct answers to these questions as not only my passion but also as part of my job. That being said, I have been very aware and very disgusted by the misinformation out there about the law.

I have yet to address Medicaid Expansion in this blog because I do work in the field and could not afford to lose my job over a comment that could possibly be taken the wrong way. However, I am proceeding with caution, as I think it’s time I did speak up. Georgia needs Medicaid Expansion. Hospitals are folding without the funding Medicaid Expansion would provide.

The biggest arguments against Medicaid Expansion are monetary related. They involve reimbursement rates and the cost of the program. The fact is, we’re already paying into the program; we’re just not getting any of the benefits. It would not cost Georgia any more than we’re already paying to accept the expansion package. So we have to ask ourselves, who is gaining what by not participating in Medicaid Expansion? Because millions of us are losing by not taking it; not just the uninsured, but those who lost their jobs when facilities closed and those who have to go a lot further to seek healthcare as a result of those closings.

I’ve heard the argument that Medicaid has a low reimbursement rate. I understand the concerns on this subject. However, due to the EMTALA laws, any person who presents to the Emergency Department of any hospital must be seen and treated by federal law, regardless of ability to pay or whether or not they have insurance. (This law was signed by Saint Ronnie of Reagan- https://www.cms.gov/Regulations-and-Guidance/Legislation/EMTALA/index.html?redirect=/emtala/ ) If the patient does not have the means to pay, the hospital absorbs the cost of their treatment which results in prices going up for everyone else. (you’ve seen people get upset that illegal aliens get free healthcare….so does everyone else that doesn’t have insurance and you’ve already been paying for it for years) This is part of the reason for closures of rural hospitals, because they’re not meeting operating costs. Sure, Medicaid only reimburses at between 40% and 50% of costs, but it’s better than 0%, wouldn’t you say? And consider that those costs are inflated by uninsured patients….if they were insured, those costs could come down and the percentage would go up. The bills created by uninsured people don’t just go away when they’re ‘written off’; they are recouped by inflation of healthcare costs. And those costs go up across the board. One facility sees another facility get more for a test they’re doing or for a supply they’re using, their prices go up too. Why did you think the cost of an aspirin in the ER is about what you’d pay in a grocery store for a whole bottle?

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that’s just greedy doctors etc, but hospitals have overhead to meet too. They have to pay doctors, nurses and staff, but they also have to pay power bills, water bills, gas bills, phone bills, internet etc. What do they need internet for, you ask? Because when you come to a hospital for the first time, and have no medic al records on file, they can now reach out to your doctor via internet stored medical records and find out your medical history so they know how best to treat you. Is this something you’re willing to sacrifice for the sake of cost? I didn’t think so. Why do you think they ask for all your personal information? It’s not JUST for billing you.

And don’t look down on your housekeeping staff in a hospital. Their job isn’t just to wipe down and mop. They have to change your infection ridden bed sheets in the best way to avoid giving your infection to the next occupant of the room. Their own health is just as much at risk as the doctors’ nurses’ and techs’ health. And they must be paid as well, though they are often very much underappreciated. They are not there to be your servants. They are there to protect you from yourself and the infections that are possible in a hospital environment as well as everyone else. And yes, I say yourself because you can contaminate your own wounds by not properly cleaning up after yourself. Just going to the bathroom and not washing your hands and touching an open or exposed injury or wound could give you a staph infection, so many of those law suits over staph infections could very well be self-inflicted. Think on that for a while.

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Without proper funding, we are opened up not only to lack of healthcare in some rural areas, but also substandard care that could lead to disaster health wise and community wise. So when supporters of Medicaid Expansion say without it, lives are at risk, they’re not just being drama queens. They aren’t pulling fear out of their hats to scare you into supporting their cause. They’re stating the facts. Infection and illness are no small matter and must be taken seriously. And yes, Medicaid expansion is solely about caring for those who are sick or helping prevent sickness or the spread of it. It’s not just a political issue; it’s a public health issue.

Private doctors have more of a reason to not want to accept Medicaid expansion plans because while hospitals have other means to provide services, doctors’ offices are more limited. However, if doctors’ offices and clinics would take Medicaid patients, costs would also go down because there’d be less people seeking treatment in the emergency room because they could obtain preventive care. Preventive care is paid at 100% of the allowed amount. Whether or not that allowed amount is 40% or 50% or what have you, its overall impact on the cost of healthcare still makes it well worth the sacrifice. If a patient seeks preventive care, more expensive care can be avoided because expensive illnesses can be caught early.

Early on in my life, I thought doctors and medical professionals were respectable simply because they cared about people. I have learned the hard way that many get in it for the money. It makes me sad that the Hippocratic Oath means so little to so many medical professionals that they would deny a human being healthcare over money. Can’t we get behind Medicaid Expansion for the greater good at least?

And you can’t convince me it doesn’t work. It’s working in the many states that accepted Medicaid Expansion at the onset of the ACA. The only thing standing in the way is politicians and their lobbyists. Go to https://www.healthcare.gov/ to read for yourself.

EVOLVE.

“Far too many people out there think evolution is a bad thing, and they REFUSE to participate.”

evolution
[ev-uh-loo-shuh n or, esp. British, ee-vuh-]
• Synonyms
• Examples
• Word Origin
noun
1.
any process of formation or growth; development:
the evolution of a language; the evolution of the airplane.
2.
a product of such development; something evolved :
The exploration of space is the evolution of decades of research.
3.
Biology. change in the gene pool of a population from generation to generation by such processes as mutation, natural selection, and genetic drift.
4.
a process of gradual, peaceful, progressive change or development, as in social or economic structure or institutions.
5.
a motion incomplete in itself, but combining with coordinated motions to produce a single action, as in a machine.
6.
a pattern formed by or as if by a series of movements:
the evolutions of a figure skater.
7.
an evolving or giving off of gas, heat, etc.
I find that the more I speak publicly and the more blogging I do, the more people I find that just skim over and don’t really know what we’re saying when we speak. And more often than not, they jump to a response without fully thinking through what was said and what it means before deciding how to respond. I found that to be the case when I posted the comment about people refusing to participate in evolution. It spawned a long conversation on my Facebook wall that I let go on for a couple of days but finally called a halt on because I believed that any progress that could have been made had played out. I’m not sure anyone truly learned anything during the conversation either.

I knew when I posted it that someone would take offense to it not in that I was saying they refused to evolve which SHOULD be what they should consider an insult over what they got upset about. The person that did speak up reacted because he doesn’t ‘believe in evolution’. He automatically jumped to the creationism vs. evolution interpretation of the word. But the very wording of my comment should have clued him into which definition I was referring to. Throughout the conversation, he kept returning to his interpretation and essentially avoided addressing the interpretation I was referring to. And yes, I was frustrated with him. But this kind of thing is common. Evolution, as explained in its dictionary definition also means to adapt to change. His reaction, however, proved my point. While he vehemently held on to the old Evolution vs. Creationism argument, he was not moving forward to adaptation to change that was being alluded to in the conversation. He wanted to argue his religion and not the nature of human beings and whether or not they learn and grow and the fact that some refuse to learn and grow.

This is a lot of the problem we’re dealing with in politics today. We’re all talking, but we’re not necessarily communicating. There are those that have a well-developed grasp on and use of the language and those who simply don’t or perhaps are too lazy or just don’t fully think about what’s being said. Those who don’t tend to grasp and hold on tight to the definition they know and refuse to let go and try to understand that there are more meanings to what they believe to be exclusive. Unfortunately, there are politicians out there that recognize this trait and have bastardized the language so that it’s easier to manipulate these people into voting against their own best interests. It’s easier to convince people of a lie than to convince them they’ve been lied to. Tell them the evil activist is attacking your religion and they’ll vote against said activist’s cause every time. Speak certain key words and you lose them forever.

As a writer, this frustrates me deeply. I have tired and continue to try to open people’s eyes about this problem. Its wide spread, from my mom posting the dictionary definition of liberal and having family members saying it was the most ridiculous thing she’d ever seen because that’s not what a liberal is as she speaks this nonsense to a life-long liberal….. To a conservative family member who I asked to define the same word and she came up with the most absurd definition I ever heard and admits to having discussed it with her husband and that this was what they came up with. They weren’t even bothered with looking it up. She even went on to say that for the record, they do not believe that President Obama is liberal because he didn’t fit into their definition of the word. She was shocked when I informed her that my parents, sister and I all identify as liberal. She didn’t understand. She’s still at a loss. I gave up trying to help her understand because it didn’t matter what I said; she was not going to change her opinion of what the meaning of the term is.

So this is my mission. From here on out, I do not intend to let people get away with using words that mean one thing while defining them another way,” Pro-life” for instance. The prefix pro means for, so pro-life means “for life”. If you’re for life, you cannot support the death penalty; you cannot support war. If you’re “for life”, you have to be for quality of life, so you can’t be against programs that improve life such as food stamps, welfare, unemployment benefits, Medicare, Medicaid or SSI and disability benefits. You can’t be for forcing a child who has been raped and whose body is not physically ready to bear children to have the baby of her rapist when it will likely kill her. So if you are against these things, you no longer get to call yourself pro-life in my presence. If by the term, you mean against abortion, then you are anti-choice or a forced-birther. You are not pro-life.
Then there’s Tea Party Patriot. The original Tea Party Patriots were real patriots protesting taxes levied by a king that wasn’t even on American soil. They were protesting being ruled with an iron fist from a distance without regard to their ability to support themselves and their families and make a living, something we all should be protesting today and many of us are. But the problem begins at being divided by racial lines, gender lines, gender identity lines and party lines. ONE of these lines could be eliminated by communication and education. Which one, you ask? PARTY LINES. You are supporting self-identifying tea party republicans who are the very people in the pockets of the rich who are making a fortune off your backs. The actions they’re taking are to benefit the rich at your expense. And because they call themselves patriots and tell you what you want to hear regarding whose fault it is that you’re in the predicament you’re in, you support them and it only gets worse. Well guess what, they’re exactly the ones who are not only making the poor even more poor by cutting the very safety nets that were designed to help them get OUT of poverty, they’re ALSO putting YOU in the very same poverty lines. So today’s “Tea Party Patriots” are an oxymoron. They’re working against the very fabric of what made this nation great. So if you’re supporting candidates like Rand Paul and Ted Cruz and all the other Tea Party “patriots”, you don’t get to call yourself patriot and neither do they. Because they’re actions are not patriotic.

Then there’s the term Conservative. Just what is it you’re conserving? Not a damned thing. You are trying to preserve the traditions you think made this nation great. But the old ways that are outdated, like women and minorities not getting to vote are the opposite of what made this country great. You know what made this country great? EQUAL OPPORTUNITY. And with the Tea Party in charge, equal opportunity is going down the tubes. It’s doing so because they are giving the rich more power to control things….and people. If you work for one of these rich people, you now are affected by their religious beliefs regardless of your own. And until they overturn Citizens United, your rights will continue to be whittled away by law suits claiming suppression of some rich guy’s business’s religious freedom being denied by him being forced to be fair to you. I think the acronym GOP fits you better….standing for Grumpy Old Party; or perhaps Grumpy Old Prudes when it comes to women’s rights and equality.

Now I could go on and on about the language being used and how it’s not what it appears to be. Right to work states actually being right to work for less states since these states don’t make nearly as much as states where workers can unionize. Citizens United…..what citizens? Why the ones with the most money of course. Sure as hell wasn’t me and my peers. Religious Freedom Restoration Act…..restoring poor peoples and working peoples religious freedom to their slave owners….the ones that don’t pay them enough to survive but who they’re still dependent on.

Someone once said “when you stop learning, you start dying.” I am a firm believer in that. Because when you stop learning, you start being taken advantage of. You start being lied to, cheated, and taken advantage of. You get your food poisoned, your body poisoned with chemicals they call medicine made of synthetic materials that are causing more symptoms than they cure. They poison your water and air. They let working conditions get worse they let infrastructure get worse and people start dying in droves due to ‘accidents’ and ‘illnesses’.

Do yourself a favor. Start researching on your own. Don’t use google. Don’t use bing. Don’t use search engines and especially not Wikipedia. Use well known sources of information. Use college websites and law school websites. Use library websites. Use Meriam Webster. Learn what they’re really saying and doing out there. They’re cheating us all. Websites like factcheck.org and Politifact.org and Punditfact.org are trying to tell you when things that are said are lies or wrong or partial truths. Stop assuming because someone that tends to agree with you says don’t go there, they aren’t dependable, that they speak the truth. Look for yourself. Ask questions. COMMUNICATE. Don’t read the highlighted excerpts and titles and assume what the article says. It’s not always what it appears to be. Some of the politifact.org findings are more along the lines of “well it’s partly true but they left out certain important facts.” Turn the tv channel from Faux News Network to C-span.

Don’t assume all scientists are of the same opinion on Evolution. Ask as many scientists as you can find. Don’t assume liberals are what Rush Limbaugh tells you they are. Ask us. We’ll tell you how we feel about things. We’ll tell you what we think is needed. I guarantee you every liberal out there will tell you a big missing piece of the American puzzle is the absence of compassion. Talk to people. Really LISTEN to their answers. If you’re not sure what it is they’re saying, ask questions. Don’t assume they’re insulting you. Find out what they mean.

I’ve seen a lot of nastiness in conversation lately. I doubt people are that nasty to everyone all the time. But I think often it’s because they’re not really communicating. They’re jumping to conclusions and getting offended with one another. I’m not saying it’s just right wing voters. Both sides likely do it; so, to both sides, stop being so defensive. Keep the conversations civil and open and productive. Communicate. Help each other. And trust each other. Stop trusting politicians who will tell you anything to get a vote. They don’t care about you. They care about money. The only way things are going to get better is for people to stop letting themselves be divided by our own elected officials. We all have the same needs. We all can see what’s wrong in this country for the most part. But no middle ground can be reached if we don’t work together and truly communicate.

The Death of Compassion

I’ve never really been much of a Church goer. Yes, I believe in God. Sometimes I just see something very different in a person than what they seem to be. It’s hard to sit in a building and be “taught” how I’m supposed to live when I feel like something is wrong in the church that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. Not to mention the attitudes toward women in many of today’s churches. I did attend a few churches growing up and the lessons I learned that remained most prominent in my memory were the ones that taught that Jesus didn’t treat the poor, the sick nor women as lesser human beings and he taught that we shouldn’t either.


It always bothered me to hear one of the church members I knew pretty well talking about how one of the church elders she thought was a God fearing righteous kind of Christian. Hard, because I could feel that there was just something not quite right about that man. I never did find out just what it was, but I avoided him until I left that church. I’ve always been uncomfortable with people who seemed like something other than what they wanted to appear to be.


Over the last ten years or so, people have come out of their shells, so to speak. That’s not to say they don’t pretend to be good Christians. They still do that. They just keep finding ways to justify the way they treat people. And they’re using their bibles to do it. I was told quite unceremoniously that the lazy man didn’t’ deserve the blessings that a good hard working Christian did. Not in so many words, mind you, but in such a way that I felt the speaker, who is a good 17 years younger than me, thought me naïve and thought herself justified in being against welfare and food stamps. If I had felt it would do any good to argue with her, I’d have asked her how you can look at someone and know if they’re Christian or just lazy?
There was no point in arguing with her because her mind was made up based on what she sees with her own eyes. She simply was not going to hear that just because she could see a person walking around, driving to the store in a decent car and having painted nails and a smart phone, that the person she saw as an able bodied but lazy person that cheats the system. I acknowledge that I could not convince her otherwise.


I lived that life for a while. I was in my 30s with a husband who was pretending to be self-employed while I busted my hump supporting us, including my two kids and his three kids and occasionally other members of his family. For a short period of time, his ex and her fiancée and their baby lived with us as well. They eventually married, but neither of them should have ever been my responsibility to support. But support them I did, to keep them out of worse circumstances. There were times we donated plasma for grocery money because my paycheck ran out before payday. I made decent money but not enough to support that many people.


When tax time comes round in that environment, you want to get something nice for a change. And yes, I earned that money I got back, every penny of it. Why shouldn’t I get something nice for it for a change? Living that way as long as I did made me see the world differently. It made me appreciate what I have. I lived among the salt of the earth. They didn’t get that way because they’re lazy. They got that way for many reasons. Perhaps many of you would benefit from some of their stories. Or maybe mine will suffice. More people struggle WITH jobs than just live off the system. Minimum wage jobs are all there are in many areas and you just can’t support a family on those jobs. So they need help. Their children don’t get their first jobs to save up for a car. They get them to buy their own school clothes so their mom can put more toward the younger kids that couldn’t work yet. They contribute to the household because Mom doesn’t make enough or Dad doesn’t, and in some cases, both combined still don’t make ends meet.


The reality is that it doesn’t matter how many stories one hears, what matters to them is their own perception based on their own experiences. Man’s capacity for compassion for his fellow man has died. Too many people cannot see, or maybe more accurately refuse to see the struggles others face. And even when they find themselves in the position to need the very services that they support eliminating for others, they can’t make the connection. They think, “Well my situation is different.” Sadly, it’s not. What got you to the unemployment line could very well be exactly how the man you called lazy got there. Your D & C could be for the very same reasons that poor young woman needs one at Planned Parenthood. For that matter, your trip to the hospital for that routine mammogram is exactly the same as a divorcee’s trip to Planned Parenthood.


The fact is that YOU DO NOT KNOW WHAT BROUGHT ANYONE TO THEIR TIME OF NEED!


Jesus said, “Judge not, that ye be not judged.
2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
(Matthew 7:1-3)
If you are truly a Christian, why are you ignoring the very lessons Christ taught and instead looking to the Old Testament to justify hate and cruelty?