Pinky Pie

Cancer, a toy guitar and two candidates & ME

Posted on: October 4, 2010

When I was little and knew I was going to get a toy guitar for my birthday, I couldn’t wait. So I nagged and nagged and nagged until Mom finally gave in.

I still remember the disappointment in her eyes when she gave that toy bad when she gave it to me.  I felt when I realized the cheap trick I had pulled. I’m sure my lack of musical talent is related to the lousy way I had gotten that guitar.

I also learned a strong sense of fair play from my mom. I learned the difference between right and wrong.

It clearly shows my naïveté, but isn’t using lies, misconceptions and falsehoods to win elections a tad like misappropriating that toy guitar? It has been more than a half-century but I still think feel bad about it.

Looking at campaign ads on television is sickening enough to send viewers to hospitals care. Side effects of these ads include high blood pressure and anxiety.

I’m particularly sensitive about how politicians are misrepresenting the Affordable Healthcare Act, better known as healthcare reform.

Two candidates in particular use their cancer diagnoses as foundations for demonizing the law. I’m not naming names because I don’t want to give them any more attention than they already seek from milking their diseases.

The first candidate is absolutely opposed to government healthcare because he knows that the government could never do that right. So he goes to the Veterans Administration Hospital, where he gets free medical care and raves about the quality. That would be the government-run VA. And for the record, so is Medicare.

Another candidate was diagnosed with cancer two weeks before winning the primary for the position she seeks.  I am happy this candidate is doing well. But in writing about the medical experience, this person sent an email that concluded:

“My story also illustrates how dire my future might have been if we had socialized medicine.  What if the government had told me I had to wait in a 6-month line to get a CT scan? Or that I couldn’t have Dr. ________ perform the surgery? That’s unacceptable to me and my family. …. So please hug your family tonight and be thankful for your blessings. I have a renewed gratefulness for each day. And please join me in fighting for healthcare reform that keeps us in charge of our choices. After a hard-fought primary and cancer, ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­______________(opponent) doesn’t seem very scary.”

This is wrong on so many levels. Most of us – if we are lucky enough to have insurance in the first place – are told where we must go for that care. We don’t have choices. That would be the insurance companies making those decisions.

And even with insurance we have to fight for reimbursement at the time we are battling our cancer treatments. Many of these companies count on us giving in and giving up on reimbursements because they are so difficult. It took me a year to get my PET scan paid.

The Affordable Healthcare Act does not tell us where we must go for care. It just helps to make sure many more of us have the are we need.

This idea that the government would put something like a CT to diagnose cancer on a waiting list for six months is as ridiculous as suggesting death panels would decide who would live or die. They are meant to scare the public and I hope they are not as effective as they appear to me.

Let’s see what that health care reform already means to Americans:

  • Many of us are terrified when our kids graduate college because they won’t be on our health plans any longer. Under the new law, they can stay on our plan until age 26 (unless they can get their own job-related insurance.)
  • Certain preventive services must be included in new plans without cost to us.
  • If we get sick, insurance companies can’t drop us just because you made a mistake on the application.
  • We have clear methods to appeal decisions from insurance companies that don’t pay for covered services.
  • Insurance companies can’t put a lifetime limit on our coverage.

Soon, children with pre-existing conditions cannot be kicked off insurance plans and by 2014, adults cannot be rejected because of pre-existing conditions. The insurance companies, which make huge profits, loves to kick us off their plans when we get expensive.

And if you live long enough – which certainly is the goal – everyone will have a preexisting condition (that part is not the goal). Under the status quo, we are all one diagnosis away from financial disaster.

Some of those opposed to the healthcare law wanted it to go farther than it does. That’s why they are unhappy.

Here’s my suggestion to those candidates who want to use their cancers to deep six health care reform: go out in the private market today with your medical conditions and see how well you do buy private insurance. If elected, decline government coverage as a state or federal employee.

Then you’ll be like the rest of us struggling to get payments for expensive treatments. Or maybe digging into whatever money we can muster just to say alive.

But that’s just me, naïve me. I’m pretty sure if elected you’ll take every government option offered to you.

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1 Response to "Cancer, a toy guitar and two candidates & ME"

Once again Susan, you highlighted the issues with your usual grace, style and dignity. Thank you for being so open and willing to share your story.

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