Way to Go, Kentucky…You Just Shot Yourself in the Foot

On Nov. 3, 2015 the state of Kentucky held a gubernatorial election. Republican Matt Bevin, who ran a campaign based on the promise to destroy Medicaid expansion in his state, was elected the new governor of Kentucky.

The Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or Obamacare, covers the poor, uninsured Americans who didn’t before qualify for Medicaid, but do under the ACA’s Medicaid expansion. According to Kentucky.gov, as of 2013, over 300,000 Kentuckians became insured under the expanded Federal Medicaid health insurance program.

But on Nov. 3 the people of Kentucky voted. And Bevin won.

Now, the people of Kentucky, including the ones who voted for him, are worried they will lose their healthcare.

But, wait a minute. Didn’t I just write that the guy ran on a platform to destroy Medicaid expansion, thus taking insurance away from people?

Yes, I wrote that. And yes, making people uninsured was his promise. And yes, he still won.

I read an article, written by MSNBC journalist Steve Benen, about a male and female Kentuckian, who are currently insured through Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion,  yet voted for the politician who vowed to take it away.

Here’s what the man had to say:

“[I]t doesn’t look to me as if [Bevin] understands,” the man said, struggling with the consequences of his own vote. “Without this little bit of help these people are giving me, I could probably die.”

Here’s what the woman had to say:

“If anything changed with our insurance to make it more expensive for us, that would be a big problem,” Botner, a community college student, said…”Just with the blood tests, you’re talking maybe $1,000 a year without insurance.

Why the hell did these people vote for a man who clearly wasn’t looking out for their best interest?

“I’m just a die-hard Republican,” the woman said.

Those are choice words because sick people do ‘die hard’ when their health care is taken away from them.

The article goes on to state that in one specific county in Kentucky, where most people are signed up for Medicaid, the majority of those people also voted for the guy who openly shared his plans to take it all away.

As I read this article, I had a real hard time understanding why people would make themselves vulnerable like that, and risk losing their health insurance, especially if they’re sick. And then I read a quote from an Owsley County judge, and it became oh so clear.

The judge said:

“To be honest with you, a lot of folks in Owsley County went to the polls and voted against gay marriage and abortion, and as a result, I’m afraid they voted away their health insurance.”

Okay. Got it. But still.

Gay marriage doesn’t directly affect anyone’s life, but the people getting married. Abortion is a personal choice a woman makes for her own body. But that too, doesn’t directly affect anyone else’s life.

Yet, the risk of losing one’s health insurance took a backseat to gay marriage and abortion.  And why shouldn’t it? It’s not like health insurance directly affects one’s own life….oh wait.

I want to empathize with the Kentuckians who voted for Bevin, I really do, because I hate seeing people suffer. But it’s so hard to feel sympathy for them because all I want to ask is, “How can you guys be so stupid?” and “Was standing up against gay marriage and abortion worth compromising your health?”

It’s really simple, people.

Stop voting against your own self-interest.

Bevin takes office on Dec. 8 and Kentuckians will find out if their newly elected governor will make good on a promise many hope he will not keep.

Until then, Kentuckians will just have to hold their breath and pray for the best. But don’t hold your breath for too long, your oxygen levels will go down and your carbon monoxide levels will go up, and soon, you may not have the insurance to cover that.

You can only blame yourself, as well as the heartless politician threatening to take it all away.

 

If you’d like to read he full article by Steve Benen, please click the link below.

 

http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/kentucky-voters-create-big-problem-themselves

When Will it Stop Being About the Money?

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For a long time our healthcare in this country (US) has operated more like health(s)care. This is not a reflection of the doctors or nurses who invest so much of themselves into helping sick people get better. I have had the great fortune of having wonderful doctors with tremendous bedside manners watch over my health, as well as caring and devoted nurses who have made my time spent in hospitals as comfortable as one could hope for.

The problem with America’s healthcare is the system. It’s all about the money, and when the bottom-line is always priority, sick people lose. This is a sad and dangerous sentiment when we’re talking about people’s lives. Those who need their medical treatment and medications to keep their hearts beating, or their lungs filled with air, never really have a decent night’s sleep because they know if God forbid they, or their spouse, loses their job, and subsequently, their insurance coverage, they will never be able to afford the outrageous price of insurance on their own.

No one can be assured the next job they apply for will have good insurance. Strong health benefits, as well as pensions and 401(k)’s, are slowly disappearing from employers’ packages to workers. There are many claims that companies like Walmart are deliberately cutting weekly employee hours so their workers won’t qualify for health insurance. Why? Because Health insurance is expensive and, like everything in business, it’s all about the money.

Up until a few short years ago a person could be denied insurance coverage just for being sick. Pre-existing conditions is what they called it. Insurance companies didn’t want to offer insurance to people who might actually have to use it. So the unlucky millions of Americans who had the audacity to get sick while not having insurance, (didn’t matter if they lost their jobs through no fault of their own like a company closure, or mandatory lay-offs) those individuals were deemed “uninsurable.”  At the same time, a stigma was placed on people without insurance as being “irresponsible freeloaders.”

During the 2012 presidential campaign, health insurance was a hot topic (still is) because President Barack Obama passed the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare (Yes! Obama Cares! Thank you Republicans for a great nickname). I remember vividly Republican Presidential candidates Gov. Rick Perry and Gov. Mitt Romney expressing their opinion that people needed to keep continuous insurance coverage to assure coverage when they suddenly got sick. The issue of hard-working people losing their jobs, and not being able to afford programs like Cobra, never came up. If one couldn’t afford high premiums it seemed to be their own fault for being poor.

Obamacare gave us some well-needed regulations in the practices of insurance companies. One practice Obama put an end to is the pre-exisiting conditions clause. Insurance companies can no longer deny a person for being sick. Alleluia. My only wonder is why the hell did the American people put up with this kind of a system anyway? Obama cited watching his mother fighting with insurance companies when she was diagnosed with cancer as his motivation for taking on the healthcare in this county, and thank God he did.

How many sons, daughter, wives, husband, mothers, and fathers watched their loved ones die because either insurance companies denied them, or the companies had found ways not to cover the treatment needed to save their loved-one’s life (yes, insurance companies were (are) very good at finding reasons to deny certain procedures).

Why did it take so long for something to be done? Easy. Insurance companies are powerful. According to ThinkProgress.org, United Health Group made a profit of 2.1 billion dollars in 2013. Two billion dollars buys a lot fancy lobbyists with plenty of incentives to offer members of congress to vote for policies that favor insurance companies.

Insurance companies are powerful, and, when standing alone, people are weak, but standing together…?

I don’t know why we, the people, never stood together as a country to put an end to the greed that lines CEO’s pockets off the backs of sick and dying people. It’s quite repulsive when one imagines a wealthy CEO making hundreds of millions of dollars a year (base and stock options), flying in private jets with all the luxuries, while a family huddles around the bedside of a dying loved one who possibly could have been saved if not for the unscrupulous practices of some insurance companies.

When sick people are deemed “undesirable”, a lack of human compassion is expressed when decisions and policies are made that affect sick people’s lives.

Take the profit out of healthcare. A single payer system is what we need.

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Photos courtesy of Freedigitalphotos.net