Thursday, June 12, 2008

On the subject of health care...

"Ah, what shall I be at fifty,
Should nature keep me alive,
If I should find the world so bitter
When I am but twenty-five?" --Tennyson

A coupling of events over the past few days have culminated in my feeling the need to write this post.

1) I went to the doctor yesterday (begrudgingly) because i have been unable to beat whatever sickness has taken me over. After 2 hours, they sent me away with 6 prescriptions. I went to the pharmacy, where i opted fill the least number of meds that i needed (3), and opted for all generics when available, and i have decent health insurance. My bill was still $146. Tack on the $20 co pay at the Dr.'s office, and i am looking at over a $150 dollars to be told "we aren't really sure what is wrong, take these and if they don't work by Saturday, come back". Ok....not surprised....i have never had good luck at the doctor's office. what really rubbed me, was considering how put out i felt, and then considering how those without health insurance must feel. much less, a single mother without health insurance. (this thought was spawned by the fact that while waiting at Wal-greens for my prescriptions, a mother came up holding a small child and asked them to look up how much the prescription in her hand would be, and after being told that without health insurance it was over $200, she walked off .)

When you are a member of society living on the edge of poverty, it often means you don't qualify for medicaid, and cant afford the kind of private health insurance that i have. some states offer public funding for health care, but of those, most stipulate that you be at the 90% poverty level. nearly a quarter of all uninsured children don't qualify for public health care. Of children that qualify for medicaid, a quarter of those are not enrolled, mainly due to the fact that the parents are unaware they qualify for coverage. Those are just national statics....

in 2006, 700,000 Oklahomans were without health care. That is up .6% from the previous year. 1 in 3 children in Oklahoma are uninsured. that is staggering! perhaps that is why we have one of the nations highest infant mortality rates- 6.9%. Why are so many Oklahomans uninsured? obviously income has something to do with it....while we have a relatively low cost of living, over 4% of Oklahomans are unemployed. doesn't sound like much, but 30% of Oklahomans say that have recently gone through prolonged periods of unemployment or describe their work situation as "unsteady".
these facts lead me to event number two....

2) Dan Boren, Oklahoma Democratic representative, said Tuesday that he would not endorse Obama because he is "too liberal" and "endorsing him would not be in the best interest" of his constituents. My mind skips to a passage i recently read in "to seek a newer world" by Robert f. Kennedy. When discussing his plans for the ideal community, he states that elected officials should simply be there to ensure that "everything that is done is in direct response to the needs and wishes of the people themselves." Sounds straight forward enough. But what about when a community's needs, and wishes, are two different things? I would find Boren's refusal to endorse Obama distasteful, yes, but hardly criminal had he not stated that it was not in the best interests of his constituents to be encouraged to vote for Obama. We are a state in desperate need of repair. Oklahoma used to be one of the most liberal states in the union, a hub for socialist and liberal activity. The vast majority of this was due to farmers. Small scale farmers used to be one of the most liberal constituencies in the nation, due to a number of issues, few of which were primarily agrarian. Now, with commercialized farming and corporate land ownership, that m.o. has been abandoned. And, the influences of the religious right, while being seriously weakened else where, still cling tightly to the ballots of many Oklahomans. factors such as gun control and libertarian (read: white male) ideals factor in somewhere, but regardless of the reasons, Oklahomans have lost sight of what is in their best interest.
I am not suggesting we turn the united states into a socialist government. i dont think socialism as we know it works. what i am saying is that health care and unemployment are issues the democratic candidates were willing to tackle. Therefor, it is in the best interest of Oklahomans, who are so in need of assistance in both areas, to look at the bigger picture.

This is a crucial issue. I was a Hillary supporter in large part due to her plan to tackle the issues of health care and unemployment. Now, i am throwing my support behind Obama, and while i am not implying that he holds all the answers to solving these issues, i am at least aware enough to see that he has made it a goal to try. Privatized health care is a joke. Individual Americans spend more on health care each year than any other nation. ANY other nation. Yet of industrialized countries, we also have the highest number of uninsured. We have got to stop looking at the diversion issues created by partisan politics and look at the facts...look at what really matters. Survival matters. When a mother has to choose between buying groceries or buying medicine, it matters.

if our own elected officials wont tell us that, the people who are supposed to safeguard our interests, there is a problem with the system. they are safeguarding their own interests (re-election), which both shameful and detrimental in the long run.

i end with a quote:

"The poor man's conscience is clear; and yet he is ashamed...He feels himself out of the sight of others, groping in the dark. Mankind takes no notice of him. He rambles and wanders unheeded. In the midst of a crowd, at church, in the market... he is in as much obscurity as he would be in a garret or cellar. He is not disapproved, censured, or reproached; he is only not seen....." -- John Adams

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