Tuesday, August 04, 2009

You've Worked Years For This Chance. If You Let Up Now You Can Lose It All This Month.

This victory alone is not the change we seek – it is only the chance for us to make that change. And that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were. It cannot happen without you.

-Barack Obama, November 4th, 2008

I am very sorry to tell you the fight didn't end on election night my friends. I know it would have if the other side had won. When they win they proceed to ram through things like tax cuts for the rich and wars for the poor without so much as lip service to our side. We hear about how the losers just have to deal with it. How elections have consequences. When we win we suddenly hear about the importance of bipartisanship. Because the moneyed interests that broker the real power in this country do not quit fighting on election night, when they lose they fight even harder. When we win, it earns us only an opportunity to step into the ring with them.

By the way, how much did your taxes go down when Bush the lessor fucked with the tax code? Seriously, look it up, tell me, and then explain why adding a trillion dollars to the deficit for no apparent reason was worth it but adding less than that to ensure we treat our sick and injured in a civilized fashion is not.

So we won in November and now we have the opportunity to fight them. The opening bell just rang my friends. I know it's not fair that we can lose after we win when they cannot, but that's the way it is, so we have to deal with it. And fight. And know that our opponent will not go down easily. Do you like your insurance plan? If you answered yes have you actually had to use it? In addition to telling me how much money you saved with Bush's tax cuts, I want you to tell me all about the time when your health insurance company really came through for you. How they put your mind at ease in a time of crisis. That is the function of an insurance company after all. That's why you pay them your premium every month. To put your mind at ease. Tell me all about it.

Something tells me you won't be able to. Because I have no trouble finding stories like this. From the July 16th airing of Democracy Now!:

AMY GOODMAN: What do you mean, “dumping the sick”?

WENDELL POTTER: Two different ways that they do this. In the individual insurance market, we’ve seen quite a bit of news coverage, especially in California. When insurance companies who are active in the individual market—and this means when you don’t get your insurance coverage through your workplace, about the only option you have is to buy it directly from an insurance company, and usually it’s much more costly than it is through—if you buy it or get it through your employer. Once you file a claim, if you are unfortunate enough to get very sick or have an accident and file a claim, you very often will find that your insurance company will go back and look at your application to see if there might be a chance that you either didn’t disclose something that you knew about in the past or inadvertently didn’t disclose something or might not have known about a pre-existing condition. They’ll use that as evidence that you were committing fraud, and they’ll revoke your policy, or they call it “rescinding” your policy, leaving you holding the bag, making you completely responsible for all the medical bills. That’s one way that they dump people who need insurance the most.

Another is, if you are employed, particularly with a small business, and your insurance—your employer gets his or her insurance through one of the large insurers, and if just one person in your company files a claim that the underwriters think is too high, if it skews what they think is the appropriate medical experience or claim experience, when that business comes up for renewal, they very likely will jack up the rates so much that your employer has no alternative but to leave and leave you and all of your coworkers without insurance. Either that or they may cut benefits or try to shop for coverage somewhere else. But the end result is, you may find yourself dumped into the rolls and the ranks of the uninsured

Wendell Potter is the former head of corporate communications at CIGNA, so he tends to know what he's talking about. Here he is again:

And they’ll be working with their ideological allies, with the business community, with conservative pundits and editorial writers, to try to scare people into thinking that embracing a public health insurance option would lead us down the slippery—excuse me, slippery slope toward socialism and that you will be, in essence, putting a government bureaucrat between you and your doctor. That is—you know, they’ve used those talking points for years, and in years past they’ve always worked.

Oh. Well we wouldn't want any kind of bureaucrat between doctors and the people who need care, now would we? Absolutely not. We would never stand for that:

Except you are standing for it. From the same Democracy Now! piece:

AMY GOODMAN: In 2007, CIGNA denied a California teenager, Nataline Sarkisyan, coverage for a liver transplant. Her family went to the media. This is her mother.

HILDA SARKISYAN: The insurance company can’t decide who’s going to live and who’s going to die. Only doctors and nurses. Thank you.

AMY GOODMAN: The California Nurses Association joined in. Geri Jenkins is head of the CNA.

GERI JENKINS: It’s just really atrocious that we let decisions be made based on money and not on human life and what’s necessary to keep people alive. The Sarkisyans had insurance. And that’s the telling thing here. They had insurance. They had done everything that was expected of them. They worked hard. They provided insurance. And yet, when they needed it, it wasn’t there for them.

AMY GOODMAN: Under mounting pressure, CIGNA finally granted coverage for the liver transplant. But it was too late. Two hours later, Nataline died.

Nataline's last words were "Thank God I do not have to deal with any kind of government run health care system. Dying under the banner of free market health care is much better than living in Canada."

I made that quote up. I didn't make up the part where she would have lived in Canada though.

But when you're spending a million dollars a day on lobbying, the way the health care industry is, you can do things like organize *ahem* spontaneous displays of anger from "average citizens" determined to defend the "system" that costs more and delivers less than any health care system in the world. "Rip us off!! the angry protesters at the Congressman's district office are essentially saying "Take our money and make us sicker!" It would be hilarious if it wasn't true.

But it is true. It is not, however, hopeless. We have earned the chance to step into the ring with them, and we must now punch them in the nose. Or the nuts. Because they fight dirty.

Let them know you expect the change you voted for in November. Because we could still lose. Even after we won.


pacalaga said...

I call bullshit on that "keep congress out of my doctor's office" line all the time. The other day my husband's rheumatologist prescribed him something for his polymyositis, and when we went to get it filled, we were told our insurance company wouldn't give us four a day, only three. (These were not narcotics.) How on earth could Congress' involvement be worse than some accountant at United?

Beloved Parrot said...

I love you, DrugMonkey. You make all my little idealistic brain cells tingle when you talk this way!

midwest woman said...

hell yes!!!!! Keith O. rocks my soul.

Elizabeth said...

You galvanized me, Drugmonkey! I've been meaning to write to my legislators for a while and this motivating rant made me get off my ass and do it. Thanks.

LaLa said...

The dumping just happened at my company.

We had one person diagnosed with a rare cancer, undergo costly experimental treatments and medications and another person had a very expensive procedure and insulin pump implanted.

When our insurance came up, they skyrocketed the cost, so our company went with a cheaper company that has quite a bit less in benefits. We're paying more out of pocket for less coverage. The drug plan SUCKS and they make people go round and round to get things approved.

DrugMonkey, Master of Pharmacy said...

href="http://www.theonion.com/content/opinion/in_a_few_years_well_all_laugh>This is a link

Heather said...

Hey, DM.

Can't decide if this is good news or not. It seems positive that there's support, but there's also a lot of ignorance- seeing as so many folks think it's not a priority.

I'm with you on spreading the word and the truth about this crisis. Let's continue to fight and get the word out.

Anonymous said...

There is something massively wrong with our system of government when we can't get something done that is so clearly in our collective interest. The influence of special interests is only a symptom of the larger problem. I am convinced that there is a very significant structural issue when our "representatives" have become celebritites and BILLIONS of dollars are spent buying their votes...when they run multi-million dollar campaigns trying to convince us that they want what is right only to side with special interests so that they can finance another campaign in 4 years.

Can you think of another job that has been literally untouched by technology. This is off-the-cuff, but why haven't we used technology to make our government more "efficient" and responsive? Why isn't there a rep working from an office in every town in America who votes via the net? Ea town could finance their I dunno... $75K salary. It would cost too much for the special interests to target a gazillion reps like they target our Senators and Congressmen. She would have office hrs and real "town meetings" to hear from her constituency and address issues and represent US. Like I said...just an off-the-cuff thought, but something's got to be done. It is clear as day that the system's broke...maybe too broke to be fixed.

Anonymous said...

http://punditkitchen.com/ - for all those must have political pictures that every supporter of the Democratic party must have.

Anonymous said...

I cannot believe that NPR is allowing airtime for Alabama legislators that are SAYING the exact same things mentioned in this blog in their town hall meetings! Like, how they don't want a bureaucrat standing between the patient and the doctor, and how people like their own insurance plans and think that a public option = socialism, etc. Why cannot these people see what it is for themselves?

Why don't the legislators have more of a handle of what is truly going on with the insurance industry, and why don't doctors stand up and speak the truth about the role of some vague phantom of a bureaucrat compared to the insurance representative answering the phone from a booth in India?

These legislators get input from everyone, whereas we in pharmacy 'only' can see how the ruthless health insurers bully us and our patients.

Are those legislators like the stockyard cattle, sold and bound for the market prices?

Anonymous said...

It's not the legislators. It's the constituents. Every day at work and in the grocery stores, I hear people, seemingly nice people, that don't want to 'support' those 'do nothing, lazy, welfare' people. That sentiment comes from the subliminal realization that the speaker is really only a paycheck away from being in the exact same place.

Conservatives in general are motivated by fear. They like to scare monger everything, because they are living in a low grade panic state themselves. If bad things only happen to bad people, then it can't happen to ME. THEY deserve it, right? So it can't happen to me, because I only beat my wife when she DESERVES it, I only cheat on my taxes because it's the gu'mit, I only drink and drive because those damn yuppies shouldn't be on MY road anyhow....

The only answer is either heavily sedating drugs (I like Haldol for this particular application) or, sadly, euthanasia. Sad, but probably necessary.As cheap as haldol is, well, there just isn't enough of it to go around, and who's going to pay for it?

ThatDeborahGirl said...

The insurance company doesn't seem to be the only bad guys in this story. The hospital basically declined the livers and let her die because they weren't sure they were going to get paid?