If Trump Isn’t Embarrassed, You Shouldn’t be Either.

A Facebook friend recently posted that she doesn’t have health insurance through her job, and had to pay a couple hundred dollars for medication. She can’t afford individual insurance, so one person suggested she may qualify for Medicaid. She agreed she would no doubt qualify, but would never go on Medicaid, or accept any kind of public aid.

I, along with quite a few others, commented that this was ridiculous. Programs like Medicaid were set up to protect people who can’t afford their own insurance, or, for people employed at jobs that either don’t offer benefits, or the person doesn’t meet company insurance eligibility requirements.

Whatever the scenario, if you don’t have insurance, and you qualify for Medicaid, i think you would be foolish not to take it. To walk around this country without health insurance, knowing how exuberant medical costs are, is just plain reckless. A trip to the doctor’s office alone can cost hundreds of dollars. Not to mention a freak accident that sends a person to the hospital, now we’re talking thousands of dollars. Easy.

So why would a person risk that? Is being on Medicaid shameful enough that a person would rather go without any type of coverage, and just take a deep breath and wish for the best?

Swallow your pride, people.

I blame a certain political party out there who love to bash people who need government assistance as “takers.” That somehow, they are always to blame for not being self-sufficient, regardless if said person had been working what they thought was a steady job, until that job was abruptly moved overseas, as so many of American jobs have gone.

People who are reluctant to apply for help, when they desperately need it, don’t want to be the kind of people some politicians put down publicly. The freeloaders. The irresponsible ones who need others to take care of them. The ones driving this country down.

I believe everyone, at some point in their life, will need help. Maybe it won’t always be financial, maybe emotional, but regardless, help will be needed because it’s tough to get through life on our own, alone.

It seems it’s more acceptable for certain people to take advantage of the system, than it may be for others. I was reminded of this as I watched the third Republican debate a couple weeks ago when the front-runner Republican candidate, Donald Trump, stated, in an unapologetic tone, (i’m paraphrasing) that in filing for four business bankruptcies he was merely taking advantage of the laws of the land.

This is true. Donald Trump did what corporate bankruptcy laws allowed him to do. When his companies racked up too much debt, he filed for bankruptcy. In 2004, according to CNN Money, Trump’s Hotel and Casino Resorts went through the bankruptcy court and shed over 500 million dollars in debt. Just like that. 500 million. Gone.

Although he lost majority control of the company, Mr. Trump was still able to retain control of his casinos.

This made me think of a scene from Goodfellas where mobsters assumed business interest over a bar, and the first thing they did was rack up the credit card bill. Then they took all that booze bought on credit and sold it out the back door for 100% profit. Then, once the credit ran dry, they torched the place. Never paying one penny back to the creditors.

This is what I think of when I listen to Trump talk about the “successful” bankruptcies that saved his businesses. How many companies didn’t did he pay when 500 million dollars was wiped out? It was a fresh start for Trump’s businesses, but what about the businesses he owed money to? The ones that never got paid.

If Trump can speak so blatantly about taking advantage of the laws that he could benefit from, then why are average people so ashamed of doing the same thing? Why does a person of modest means feel disgraced if they use the system to help them when they need it?

Why is it accepted as being advantageous for a business man to file bankruptcy four times and come out appearing as the tactical successful business man? When, If a regular person filed for bankruptcy four times he/she would be deemed as an irresponsible loser who doesn’t know how to handle their own finances.

But not Trump. Trump is leading his party in a run for the presidency. The highest office in the country, and, probably, the most powerful position in the world.

I worry about the prospect of a business man as a president. The notion that a country should be run as a business frightens me. But I’ll tackle that in another blog.

For now, I leave you with this, take the help that’s available for you when you need it. If Donald Trump isn’t embarrassed by all that he’s taken so far, then you shouldn’t be either.

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I don’t own this picture. I believe it is public domain, but if not, I will take it down.

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