Me at the Health Care for America Now rally in front of the US Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday. I think we were chanting "Shame on you!"
Tuesday was an amazing day. I met 14 remarkable people who have struggled with the broken health care system.
Kelly and David Arellanes had to go through bankruptcy after she fell off a horse and hit her head and the insurance company covered next to nothing.
Heather Mroz had her insurance policy cancelled just before the premature birth of her twins, leaving her hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt.
Freddie Effinger had to beg for his life when he was diagnosed with Hodgkins lymphoma while he was in law school. He was luckier than Mike was, though -- he got what he needed and survived. He's an attorney in Birmingham now.
We walked a couple blocks with a crowd of about 300 to the US Chamber of Commerce, where all 15 of us who were there with Health Care for America Now were introduced.
Kelly Arellanes and I both got shoved by a DC cop (J. Herold, Badge No. C80), who thought it was OK to assault us from behind. A couple people who saw it told me he took a couple steps back and ran at me. If two people hadn't caught me, I'd have landed flat on my face. I'm filing a formal complaint. The hippie in me suspected there might be a power-happy cop there, and I was right.
Rep. John Conyers called me a hero and Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee called me an inspiration.
We got coverage from the Washington Post (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/video/2010/01/26/VI2010012603685.html)
I'am with Freddir Effinger and Heather Mroz at the protest.
After the rally, we went to the Raburn Office Building for a briefing on health care and Rep. John Conyers kept looking at the photo of Mike I carry with me on such occasions. I got to tell Mike's story, and Rep. Conyers called me a hero.
I had supper with Susan Braig, who had breast cancer five years ago and her catastrophic coverage covered little more than the insurance company's butt. She couldn't afford the $500 for the anti-nausea medication, so she suffered. As an artist, the experience inspired her to create jewelry with expired medications. The jewelry is more than whimsical -- it's lovely.
Two large public health systems have announced that they no longer will provide dialysis to uninsured people who have end-stage kidney disease. (see the New York Times report at: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/08/health/policy/08dialysis.html)
What this means for patients is that they must go to the emergency room, which is much more expensuive. It also means they can't have scheduled appointments; instead they have to wait their turn in the emergency room -- which could take hours. Since dialysis usually must be performed three times a week, that makes it all but impossible for someone to hold a job, costing us taxpayers even more money.
We have billions to spend on wars and tax breaks and bailouts for huge corporations, but nothing for people who need lifesaving medical treatment. It's stupid, short-sighted and cruel.
This is how I'll remember Mom and Bob.I keep seeing her face, smiling, with those big glasses. She adored Bob, which is why she left three days after he did. She knew her daughters would be OK because she raised strong, smart women.
She knew how to fight for what she believed in and her last message to me was to keep telling the stories that people need to hear.
Mom was constrained by society's view of women until the late 1960s, when she started working with Bob to save the striped bass along the East Coast. She was a self-taught marine biologist, and she and Bob went against what was commonly accepted science in the late 1960s and proved that PCB and DDT pollutuion in coastal estuaries was endangering the species. She and Bob lectured people with PhDs in marine biology and convinced them of the truth. They eventually convinced Congress.
My mother didn't take no for an answer.
So, for her as well as for Mike, I'll keep fighting for access to quality health care for all Americans.
This is your new blog post. Click here and start typing, or drag in elements from the top bar.
We're back from two memorial services in one week. I find it hard to see the deaths of my stepfather and mother as a tragedy since they both got good care from our country's government-run single-payer health care system, Medicare. They lived long and productive lives and they both were ready to go.
Being with my mother as she died was so different from being with Mike. Both were at peace, but my mother's death was timely. Mike's was too soon, and it was preventable.
45,000 times each year, 123 times every day, 12 times an hour, someone dies because he or she didn't have access to health care. My mother and stepfather died because they were old and their bodies were worn out.
My mother wanted me to keep up the fight to get access to quality health care for every American. I was planing to do it anyway, but it's nice to have her blessing.