The time for universal health care is now

Health care is a basic human right. For too long in this country, people have been insecure about whether they will have access to quality health care at reasonable prices. Many are one health care disaster away from financial ruin.

Even the Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare,” with its Medicaid expansion and marketplaces, did not achieve universal health care. It was a step in the right direction, but the U.S. remains the only developed nation not to have all of its citizens enrolled in medical insurance.

Now Obamacare is under assault by those who cannot stand that it was an Obama program that has worked. As a result, people are facing higher premiums, substandard plans, and possibly denials if the courts rule that insurance companies can refuse coverage to those with pre-existing conditions.

Fortunately, many running for office in Arizona and around the country are proposing ideas to finally achieve universal health care. These proposals do not have to reinvent the wheel but can build on existing health care systems. They include the following: further expanding Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program; stabilizing and growing the Obama marketplaces; gradually lowering the age eligibility to join Medicare; and having residents buy into the municipal health care plans that local public servants and bureaucrats receive.

By reviewing the ideas above, it would not take a great deal of legislative might to connect the dots and achieve what all the other developed nations have – some for over a century. Are our leaders going to continue to say we do not have the resources to do what allies have achieved and maintained?

The time for universal health care is now.

By David Gordon, Legislative District 18 Democrat

Header photo credit: Georgia Department of Public Health

 

Dead People Walking

By Barbara Clark

Political Commentator Marc Thiessen claims that Trump is “fearlessly pro-life.” (May 24, 2018).

Is this the same Trump who gleefully declared, “I like war?”  War means dead people.

Is this the same Trump who has openly admired Putin, Duterte, and Kim for being “strong?”  They meet his idea of “strong” by slaughtering uncounted numbers of people to get their own way.  Slaughter means dead people.

Is this the same Trump who supports the attempts by the right wing to deny access to medical care to as many people as possible?  A lack of medical care means dead people.

Is it the same Trump who favors shutting down women’s reproductive health care clinics just in case someone might need an abortion?  This country has long had the highest maternal mortality rate in the developed world, and now that rate is climbing.  And, by the way, maternal mortality means dead people.

Surely this can’t be the same Trump who supports other deadly policies of the right wing.  Policies like rolling back environmental laws, allowing industries to poison people’s air and water and food in the name of profit.  Poison causes dead people.

Policies like sending people fleeing from violence and starvation back to where they came from, causing more dead people.  Policies like refusing to provide adequate and timely disaster aid to Puerto Ricans, causing thousands of dead people.

He accepts the radical right’s adamant refusal to acknowledge the very existence of climate change.  Regardless of the cause, it is real, it is killing people, and it is on track to kill more.  Killing means dead people.

He has no problem with the many right-wing politicians who support and are supported by an extremist “Christian” movement called Dominionism, which advocates for the execution of gay people.  Execution means dead people.

He is decidedly in line with their acquiescence to the NRA in refusing to consider any regulations on fire-arms, despite an overabundance of evidence that regulations save lives.  Refusal to save lives means lots and lots of dead people.

Perhaps Theissen believes, as many others seem to, that “life” begins at conception and ends at birth.   Perhaps he and others believe that “innocent life” applies only to the unborn and is lost when one commits the sin of taking a first breath.  Perhaps they believe that being rabidly anti-abortion means they can support policies that kill already-born people and still claim the title of “pro-life.”

But most people know that calling Trump “pro-life” is either profound ignorance or a deliberate misnomer.  And a deliberate misnomer is a lie.  And causes dead people.

Barbara Clark
Tempe Activist


Header image: From Child Abuse at the Border by Patrick Chappatte, New York Times, June 18, 2018

Meet Renee Newman

Hello there! My name is Renee Newman and I am a proud member of the LD18 Democrats! You know me. I’m the person walking around the meetings with a walker, leaning on everyone in my path, wall walking, sitting at the entrance of the meetings doing badges and taking pictures. I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2006, after experiencing symptoms for 15 years prior. MS has changed my entire life. I was a Jr High teacher (special education, LD,EH) at Valley View School in South Phoenix when suddenly I couldn’t feel my whole lower torso.  I was falling a lot. Then I had incontinence. That’s when I had to stop teaching. I loved teaching. It was my life. No one knew why this was happening to me. It was very scary.

Luckily I had many college degrees. That helped. I was lucky. I was a Microsoft instructor teaching teachers to use computers; I worked for Tesseract in educational technology; I was a full time faculty at NAU in the Center for Academic Excellence; and I worked and retired from the Arizona Department of Education as an Educational Specialist. I would be doing great in a job, only to be sidelined by paralysis, balance, and other symptoms. Then I would quit my job and pick up a new one when the symptoms subsided.

Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system which interrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body. Symptoms range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis. The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS in any one person cannot yet be predicted, but advances in research and treatment are moving us closer to a world free of MS. MS affects more than 2.3 million people worldwide.

I am scooting in the NMSS Walk 2017 at the Phoenix Zoo on November 4, 2017.  It would be great if you could join me! TEAM RENEE 2017. If not, I am accepting donations for my personal walk also. Having MS has affected my entire life. I can no longer work or drive or walk without a walker or scooter. Please support me in this effort to find a cure for MS.

To DONATE or JOIN MY TEAM:Or you can email me and I will send you a direct link to my page – reneenewman@cox.net

Walk MS: Phoenix 2017

National Multiple Sclerosis Society

Walk MS connects people living with MS and those who care about them.

Surviving cancer

Contributed by Fred Barlam, LD18 Democrat
June 20, 2017

June 4th was National Cancer Survivor Day. I am a survivor, and I have been cancer free for six and one-half years now.

In mid-June 2010, after being diagnosed with lymphoma in Phoenix, I headed to my first appointment with my oncologist at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. After parking in the underground garage, my wife Sheryl, my son Seth, and my daughter-in-law Jennie walked out onto the street above. As we turned the corner, I saw the large letters with the words Sloan-Kettering at the top of the building glaring out over everyone and everything below. A surreal feeling came over me. It was difficult for my mind to truly accept the fact that I was there for cancer treatment. It was all too frightening.

As a kid growing up in New York City I knew that Sloan-Kettering was one of the best cancer hospitals in the world, and that it was where you went for treatment if you got cancer. On one hand, I was glad that my treatment, was going to be there. On the other hand, I felt extreme sadness for other cancer patients who were not going to be able to access Sloan-Kettering, or a facility like it. Not because they didn’t want to, but because they didn’t have the right health insurance, or possibly had no health insurance at all.

When I called Sloan-Kettering two weeks earlier from my home in Phoenix to make an appointment, the first thing they asked me was what type of health insurance I had. Due to my retirement from a school district in New York State in 2004, Sheryl and I are guaranteed top notch health insurance for the rest of our lives, so there was no problem with me meeting Sloan-Kettering’s criteria. The strong teacher unions in New York had made it possible for me to be treated at a world-renowned facility and receive the finest medical treatment available.

My total cancer treatment, including tests, CT scans, chemo, etc. cost over $700,000. My out of pocket costs were only a nominal $7,000, an affordable figure for almost every middle-class family. 99% of the cost of my treatment was covered by my insurance. How sad that so many others in this country do not have the same option that I had, and might even die because they could not access the care and treatment they needed.

To this day, I am secure in knowing that if my cancer returns I will again be able to access and afford the best cancer care available. That is a very reassuring feeling. Having a cancer relapse is certainly scary enough without having to worry about affording the care you need. Too many others are not so fortunate. The passing of the Affordable Care Act (ACA or Obamacare) made it possible for many of them (over 20 million more Americans) to be able to access quality, affordable medical care, and to have some peace of mind because of it.

But now, with Paul Ryan scheming to end it with the American Health Care Act (AHCA, which I call caca!) and Trump seeming to support it, many, if not most of those 20 million Americans who now have insurance from the ACA would lose it. A fellow active Arizona Democrat, Ian Danley, is one of them. Ian, current Executive Director of One Arizona (an organization dedicated to full voter participation by the Latino Community), and the Campaign Manager for David Garcia’s run for Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction in 2016, is a lymphoma survivor like me. His treatment was more intense than mine, with him receiving a transplant to save his life. If AHCA replaces the ACA, and Ian relapses and needs further cancer treatment or another transplant, he will die. It is that simple. With his pre-existing condition of lymphoma, no insurance company will give him health insurance, or health insurance at an affordable middle-class rate if they did offer it, and he cannot afford to pay for treatment on his own.

The inequity of this is astounding. With the repeal of ACA and the passage of AHCA, I, a 68-year-old retiree with guaranteed health insurance for the rest of my life would still receive whatever treatment was necessary if my lymphoma returned. Ian, a 36-year-old hard working family man with a young child and a pre-existing condition, would not be able to access health insurance, would not receive the treatment he needed, and would more than likely die if his lymphoma returned. Am I any better or more deserving than Ian? How is this fair? How is this humane?

Now, in my mind, this is really a very solid argument for the need for universal health care like all the westernized nations in the world, except the United States, currently offer. But I am willing to skip that argument for now, and concentrate on fighting the repeal of ACA and the passage of AHCA. If you haven’t done so yet, please call Senator Flake’s office at (602) 840-1891, and Senator McCain’s office at (602) 952-2410, and tell them to vote NO on AHCA. There are a hell of a lot of Ians out there with a variety of pre-existing conditions and it is the least we can do for them!

Fred Barlam, LD18 Democrat