Is It So Wrong For –Everyone– To Have Health Care?

  The Republicans are trying their damnest to derail what they call “Obamacare” by having the Supreme Court declare certain portions unconstitutional.  It looks like troglodyte Scalia and c. are leaning toward doing just that.  Why not?  They get the finest healthcare in the land.

In the meantime, 50 million Americans have exactly zero health care insurance (that’s 1 in 6).[1]  Physician  Dr. George Lundberg said it best:  “The for-profit American health insurance industry — and many of those not-for-profit lookalikes — is a poster child for the triumph of poorly-regulated and misplaced capitalism in a historically fundamental service profession.”[2]

As a breast cancer survivor, I had approximately eight doctors at the same time.  Every single one of them despised the insurance system.  Here’s a typically insane example:  I needed a year’s worth of infusions of a life-saving drug called Herceptin.  HOWEVER, my insurance would not approve this treatment until it was proved that my white cell count was low.  I was going through chemo, and every single chemo patient’s white cell count drops, no exceptions.  Just a little ploy to put added stress on me.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act broached by Obama has already had a powerful effect.  Allowing young people up to 26 to stay on their parents’ plans has added 2.5 million to the ranks of the insured (at no cost to taxpayers). [3]  The Plan also provides that by 2014, insurers can’t deny coverage to those with pre-existing conditions.   This is unequivocally A GOOD THING.  If I happen to get cancer again (I’ve already had it twice) and I happen to get laid off (as I was when Washington Mutual melted in its pyroclastic flow), then I don’t have to die in a gutter, whimpering about “The Greatest Country On Earth.”

While documentarian and activist Michael Moore was making Sicko, his expose’ of the healthcare game, he discovered some interesting facts:[4]

  1. There are four times as many health care lobbyists as there are members of Congress.

  2. Canadians live three years longer than we do.

  3. In a study of older Americans and Brits, the Brits had less of almost every major disease. Even the poorest Brit can expect to live longer than the richest American.

  4. A baby born in El Salvador has a better chance of surviving than a baby born in Detroit.

  5. 18,000 Americans will die this year simply because they’re uninsured.

  6. The United States is ranked #37 as a health system by the World Health Organization.

It’s a picture of cheer, isn’t it?  Let’s look at some of the most egregious “denials of service” which have taken place recently:

  1. When 17-year-old college student Jerome Mitchell tested positive for HIV in 2002, his health insurance company retroactively annulled his coverage.  Happily, he was ultimately awarded $10 million.
  2. In 2002, a woman was denied coverage since rape was considered “a pre-existing condition.”  Interesting logic.
  3. In 2009, domestic violence qualified as a pre-existing condition in eight states and the District of Columbia.
  4. In 2008, shortly before Robin Beaton was scheduled to undergo a double mastectomy, her insurance company revoked her policy. Beaton, a breast cancer patient, never disclosed that she’d previously seen a dermatologist for acne, a condition her insurer, Blue Cross, said qualified as a pre-existing condition.   And acne is related to breast cancer because. . .?
  5. In 2007, CIGNA refused to pay for the liver transplant 17-year-old Nataline Sarkisyan because it was “too experimental.”   Due to public pressure, CIGNA reversed its decision but – oops!—too late:  Nataline died the same day.[5]

The state of Arizona and its fascist Governor Brewer has caused the death of two transplant candidates by cutting funds to their Medicaid organ transplant program. [6]  So if you’re an immigrant and need a transplant, please crawl  over the border and die!

On the other side of this issue lies the obscene salaries/benefits of America’s healthcare insurance execs.  Amazingly, THREE OF THEM make the Forbes 2012 List of Top 10 Highest Paid CEOs:

1.       Stephen Hemsley of UnitedHealth Group, whose one-year compensation totaled $48.8 million.

2.       Omicare’s CEO, with $98.3 million

3.       The Grand Daddy of them all, John Hammergren of McKesson Corp, who pulled in $145.3 million for compensation, according to the LA Times.

So can we assume that this business is profitable?  You bet your backless hospital gown it is!   “In the midst of a deep economic recession, America’s health insurance companies increased their profits by 56 percent in 2009, a year that saw 2.7 million people lose their private coverage.”[7]  To celebrate, Blue Cross of CA decided to raise its annual premiums by 39%.[8]  Those guys!

But perhaps the most insidious and distasteful aspect of this whole industry was revealed by the testimony of Linda Peeno before Congress.  Peeno, who had been a high-level Humana and Blue Cross/Shield case worker, confirmed that agents were given BONUSES for denying customers healthcare. Here are her powerful words:  “I contend that ‘managed care,’ as we currently know it, is inherently unethical in its organization and operation. Furthermore, I maintain that we have an industry which can exist only through flagrant ethical violations against individuals and the public.”[9]

So as the GOP tries its best to deny health insurance to as many people as possible; while families are shattered, emotionally and financially, by illnesses they cannot afford to treat; while fat cat for-profit execs luxuriate in the highest salaries in the nation,; our present system, corrupt to the core, continues to grind on.  Would it really be so terrible if every American had affordable health insurance, so we wouldn’t have to cringe in terror every time we were laid off?   Or is this considered as “Socialist” as Emma Goldman hurling a bomb?  Grow up, conservatives.  Let’s not fuck with people’s lives.  Let Capitalism out the back door so that benefits are available for all.


The Fetishization of American Motherhood

Recently, a media war erupted when Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen proclaimed that Ann Romney was no expert on women’s struggles considering she had never worked a day in her life.  Romney tweeted back, “I made a choice to stay home and raise five boys. Believe me, it was hard work.”  The First Lady herself felt obliged to hoist the flag for Motherhood, tweeting, “Every mother works hard, and every woman deserves to be respected.”  Once again, we were off the races and the GOP War On Women took on the fervor of a 19th century revival.

As we know, this is when the Victorian notion of “The Angel Of the House” sprang into full flower.  (Charlotte Bronte complained that this insipid archetype was basically “half angel/half doll.”)  Teddy Roosevelt thundered in a speech to the National Congress of Mothers in 1905:  “Nothing good will happen “…unless the average woman is a good wife, a good mother, able and willing to perform the first and greatest duty of womanhood, able and willing to bear, and to bring up as they should be brought up, healthy children, sound in body, mind, and character, and numerous enough so that the race shall increase and not decrease.”

“There are certain old truths which will be true as long as this world endures, and which no amount of progress can alter. One of these is the truth that the primary duty of the husband is to be the home-maker, the breadwinner for his wife and children, and that the primary duty of the woman is to be the helpmate, the housewife, and mother.”

But (in the view of the oppressors) there is always an upside to slavery:  “The woman who is a good wife, a good mother, is entitled to our respect as is no one else…”   Then comes the ecstatic worship:  “The woman’s task is not easy–. .  and when she has done it, there shall come to her the highest and holiest joy known to mankind; and …she shall have the reward prophesied in Scripture…for all people who realize that her work lies at the foundation of all national happiness and greatness, shall rise up and call her blessed.”  Even the Virgin Mary looks a little slutty in comparison.

Still, the man most responsible for putting American Mom on a pedestal is a most unlikely figure:  a Russian-Jewish immigrant who headed MGM, Mr. Louis B. Mayer.  Mayer worshipped his Yiddisher Mama, and this sentiment (and sentimentality) made its way directly onto the screen: with the idyllic, nuclear Hardy family; Marmie in Little Women; Greer Garson as Mrs. Miniver (she even captures a Nazi flyer singlehanded!); the sainted Mrs. O’Hara in Gone With The Wind; Irene Dunne in White Cliffs Of Dover (she loses both her husband and son to the wars). Mayer worshiped his new homeland (he claimed his birthday was the 4th of July), and this, commingled with the reverence he bore his Ma, did more than anything to sanctify Mom at the movies.

With the advent of television in the 50’s, we were deluged with a tsunami of perfect Moms:  Donna Reed, Harriet Nelson, June Cleaver; Mrs. Walton, Shirley Partridge, and perhaps the greatest of them all, that eternal “lovely lady” — Carol Brady.  None of these icons of womanhood had to deal with weighty problems, at least those which couldn’t be solved in a span of 22 minutes.  None longed for a career, except the redoubtable Shirley, but she had Mr. Kincaid to guide her, and besides, she was able to take her kids with her in that incredible rainbow bus!

Per the book The Mommy Myth:  The Idealization of Motherhood and How It Has Undermined All Women:[1]  “In the idealized myth, mothers and babies spend their days discovering the wonders of life, reading, playing and laughing. Mom wears her baby in a sling, never raises her voice and of course has unlimited time and patience. Baby grows up safe, happy and respectful.”  This is, of course, The Dream.  Reality can look a little different, with fractured families, single moms, women who have to work (sorry, Ann), and dysfunctionality which spans from infanticide to depression to abuse.  In 2008, one of four U.S. children were born into poverty.[2]  In a 2010 Pew Center Research Poll, when women were asked why they’d had their first child, 47% responded, “there wasn’t a reason; it just happened.”[3]   Obviously, this is a non-choice that has lifelong repercussions.

The Republicans, being by definition conservative and adverse to change, of course cling to the Old Notions of gender roles, where stay-at-Moms are as revered as anything Louis B. could come up with. Working moms, however, are in some form evil, Feminazis, and anti-men.[4]  As a result, many of them feel guilt, even though they have no economic choice.

What the GOP doesn’t understand is that we have entered the era of New Moms, one which provides entirely new role models.  Madonna, Britney, and Natalie can all be sex symbols and good moms; Angie can be smoking hot and still adopt foreign orphans.  Would Marilyn, in the 50’s, have been allowed to be a sex symbol and a Mom?  It seems highly unlikely, although she tried (and miscarried twice).  Back then, the Jungian archetypes of The Madonna and The Whore were too demarcated and ne’er the two could meet.  Now, we’re OK with an amalgam as long as that person is a celebrity and has a ton of money.  They are living the dream for single moms everywhere — one tabloid at a time.

You know what’s really funny?  After arguing that motherhood is in fact real work, the GOP just shot down a bill that would have helped poor moms achieve the life of an Ann Romney.  The reason?  “”There are lots of things we can describe as work. Is raising children as a mother work? Is raising children as a father work? Is washing the car work?” Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) asked. “I’d like to be paid for washing my car, but we have to draw the line somewhere.”[5]

Ok, so raising kids is work if you’re Ann Romney, but if you’re not, it’s just a way to laze around the house.  The bloviating Republicans can’t even support their own platform for longer than a week!  So let’s join an anti-Republican — Jimmy Cagney in White Heat –as the cops close in, and he yells, “”Made it, Ma! Top of the world!” before going down in a hail of bullets.  Guns and Motherhood.  What could be more American than that?

[1] Susan Douglas, Meredith Michaels

Separated At Birth???