Sunday, October 28, 2007 7:35 PM
Thursday, October 18, 2007 1:47 PM
If we just started counting in March 2003 when the Iraq war began, the U.S. health care crisis battle would already have 82,500 dead. Maybe someday we'll build a wall or a monument. By Donna Smith, American SiCKO
DENVER – With more than 50 Americans dead every day due to a lack of adequate health care, the health care reform movement has all the dead bodies it needs to meet the demands of an outraged public. Yet the movement for true health care reform does not yet garner the attention of nearly as many people as the anti-Iraq war effort.
The fact is that more than 82,500 Americans have died as the result of our broken health care system since the Iraq war began in the spring of 2003. We’re racking up the health care casualties as fast as if we had fought 22 Iraq wars during the same time period. Yet, why don’t the dead matter as much in this battle?
I wonder if some day we’ll build a wall and list all the names of the health care crisis dead. It would be quite a large wall. We have far more names already than the Vietnam conflict. And the people are dying right next door and down the block and in our neighborhoods and communities. I wonder if my name will be on that wall.
Is it because the health care war dead are the uninsured and underinsured? Have we already judged those dead as somehow complicit in their own demise? Have we written them off as folks who were too irresponsible, too stupid or just too unlucky to take better care of themselves? Where the hell is our survivors’ guilt?
I went to an anti-war rally in downtown Denver on Saturday. It was one of many across the nation. It was a powerful gathering with lots of committed people speaking out and some even saying if we’d just stop funding the war we would put that money toward health care or education or other domestic issues. There were hundreds of people with signs and showing great and appropriate remorse for America’s war dead and for all the Iraqi citizens killed.
Then I went to a health care forum. There were nine people there. They were committed. They were concerned. But they were still talking strategy and how to overcome political hurdles and how to grow the movement. Apparently none of us has been smart enough to figure out why more than 82,500 dead Americans does not strike a loud enough chord over the past five years.
And talk about financial waste? Ugh. This clearly is not even the most economical way to handle health care. You see, greed does not really care about the nation’s health at all.
One way we will make that number of health care dead more tangible is to actually assign names to it. That’s what Michael Moore did in 'SiCKO.' He put names and faces with the numbers. I didn’t notice too many slackers or deadbeats among my fellow Americans on that screen.
But, it has been hard work over the past few months to keep reminding people who just haven’t touched it or felt it or internalized it yet, that this crisis is one of those cases that unless we all speak up now, unless we speak for our neighbors in their times of health care trauma and pain, then when our time comes, there may be no one left to speak for us.
So, here we stand with Congress and the president and their failure to agree upon and pass the SCHIP (State Children’s Health Insurance Program). Because they’ll be rushing to get to Thanksgiving break, it is likely now that Bush will veto the latest Congressional bill, Congress will once again fail to override the veto and Congress will have to write some continuing resolution legislation to fund the current program for a year. No one will have reached any sort of compromise.
And people – this time very young Americans – will continue to die as Congress pats itself on the back for trying and the president praises himself for holding those nasty lefties at bay. And kids will die. I guess we better get busy on that monument, eh?
Working families that cannot afford health insurance or health care will wait for treatment until diseases and illnesses have advanced. But we all know that, and most of us will turn away from the pain of it and make our holiday shopping lists. Maybe we’ll offer to buy Christmas gifts for a poor child. And we’ll sleep better for that.
But I am joining two of my fellow moms from ‘SiCKO,’ and we’re going on a hunger strike for health care. We want to raise the stakes of the discussion a bit more. We want others to know that we once risked our lives to bring our children into this world, and we will risk them again to make sure they are not casualties of the U.S. health care crisis.
I surely want the Iraq war to end. I hate thinking about the death and the destruction. But I want this completely preventable health care crisis to end too. I think about those 82,500 Americans dead. I think about the kids, the moms, the dads, the folks who did nothing worse than getting sick and being too broke to buy back their health.
And I hope as I make my way through my days of hunger striking that I will spend one minute each half-hour thinking about and praying for the American out there somewhere who is dying at that moment without access to adequate health care. It turns out I’m not very hungry anyway when I think about that.For more information about the hunger strike, visit American Patients for Universal Health Care
Labels: APUHC, Donna Smith, Iraq War, Universal Healthcare
Thursday, October 4, 2007 3:00 PM
Gregory Hampton, 15, of Denver, won't have proper health coverage. He's one of our 'good' kids -- great grades, works a job and helps care for his siblings while both parents work. And he's my grandson. How do I explain to Gregory that he isn't worth our best efforts? I won't. But I will fight to my death for his future. He deserves my best.By Donna Smith, American SiCKO
DENVER -- So, President Bush vetoes the State Children’s Health Insurance Program expansion and Congress fails to override that veto. So this is our government? No, it is not. It may be the insurance companies’ government and the health care profiteers’ government, but it sure as hell isn’t mine.
This government tries to protect life in the womb but devalues that life once a child is born and fails to provide basic health care for working-class children. That’s not my government.
This government doesn’t value my work ethic or my determination to provide for myself. Since I am among those classified as the “working poor,” I can fend for myself for health care coverage. That’s not my government.
This government does an awful lot of finger-pointing about who’s to blame for what but never watches out for my health care needs. It’s a weak Congress. It’s a bumbling administration or worse – it’s a selfish one. That’s not my government.
This government wants working parents not to have enough money to buy homes or new cars or other consumer goods because they must pay huge premiums for sub-standard health care and coverage. That’s not my government.
This government is full of those claiming patriotism and love of family while ignoring families sinking into economic ruin due to health costs and coverage. That’s not my government.
This government is full of those proclaiming love for humankind while failing to protect even the youngest and most vulnerable in our own society. That’s not my government.
This government is full of Bible-thumping Christians who display judgmental and cruel tendencies very opposite what the Christ I learned about would ask of us. That’s not my government.
This government will not change and will not represent its people because it is built on arrogance of self rather than being of and by the people. And that’s not my government.
This vote today has made me more angry and more determined than ever. This is not just about the kids, fellow Americans. It is about what we collectively need to say to these people we elected. And if they cannot and will not hear us – as they demonstrated today – then we must clean house. Top to bottom, Repubs and Dems, out the door, to the curb and back to the people.
I have had enough. I have been ignored enough. My vote and my taxes have been abused enough. My voice matters. I am an American woman with a brain and a heart and a God. And I want my country back.
Labels: Donna Smith, SCHIP
Wednesday, October 3, 2007 6:51 AM
By Donna Smith, American SiCKO
DENVER – Disgusting. That’s all I could think as I watched today in early October as Republican Congressman Roy Blunt and Democratic Congressman Steny Hoyer planned to recess the U.S. House of Representatives by Nov. 16, with the goal to stay recessed until well after Christmas. Wow, nice work if you can get it.
But what really is horrifying is that as our members of Congress adjourn this session, they will leave millions of Americans in peril. These Americans are not unknown to them – they are those who are uninsured and under-insured for health care needs. And between November 16, 2007, and January 1, 2008, more than 2,300 more of these Americans will die because they didn’t have adequate health care.
All members of Congress will fill their bellies on Thanksgiving Day secure in the knowledge that if they become ill while out on recess, they will be well cared for. And as the Hanukkah season, Christmas, Kwanzaa and other religious celebrations approach, these same members of Congress will rest safely in that assurance as they pray for peace on earth.
But what will those weeks and months be like for the uninsured and the under-insured who are ill? Those weeks will be filled with anything but peace and security. There will be illnesses and injuries that will go untreated and undiagnosed – and some will become fatal. Coughing, fevers, seizures, depression, tumors, strokes, heart and chest pain, ear aches, rashes, vomiting, crying out for help that never comes – that will be quite a nice holiday season, don’t you think?
Unpaid medical bills and debt collectors calling – mortgages going unpaid and boxes being packed in anticipation of the eviction notices. That’s what fear and want is like, ladies and gentlemen of Congress.
It isn’t as if members of Congress haven’t had time to work on the health care crisis. It didn’t exactly sneak up on us all. They have failed to act for a very long time. They are selfish and incapable of empathizing with the people they are charged to represent.
I am ashamed of this Congress. They are not working hard to address the needs of the American people. And they aren’t even acting as though they are aware we elected them. We gave them the right to adjourn for a nice, happy holiday season. And they took us up on that. They just never heard our other demands. They weren’t listening.
Send your members of Congress a greeting card and remind them of the death toll during their recess. Maybe, just maybe, they'll return ready to seriously consider HR676, Medicare for All. Better yet, maybe they'll call Rep. John Conyers' office before they leave and ask to co-sponsor. That would be a gift to us all.
Labels: Donna Smith, HR676
Adrian Campbell at a Peace Rally. Adrian is organizing the Michigan Chapter of the American Patients for Universal Health Care
DETROIT -- GM may close yet another plant and retirees may now live in fear about the long-term viability of their benefits -- all thanks to the recent strike settlement agreement which, once again, will see Michigan families put in peril. So one young Michigan resident is determined to help out on her home state turf where she fears the future may be slipping away.
On Thursday October 4th, 2007, join with other concerned Michigan citizens at the AMC Movie Theatre in Sterling Heights, for a showing of 'SiCKO' at 7:20 p.m. The theatre is located at 44681 Mound Rd. Sterling Heights, MI, 48314.
The Michigan Chapter of the American Patients for Universal Health Care (apuhc.com
)is underway, and will start out by inviting GM and UAW retirees to this 'SiCKO' showing, along with anyone else who has not seen the film. The Michigan Chapter is being started by American SiCKO Adrian Campbell, whose mother and father are recent GM retirees. Adrian loves her home state and worries about her parents and about the future for her own daughter.
The lack of universal health care and the ensuing health care costs crisis has added to not only the woes of many Michigan families, according to Adrian, but has also forced the U.S. auto industry into terrible agreements and strategies just to stay afloat at all. Michigan, once the proud center of the nation's powerful and thriving auto-making giants, has endured shot after shot of bad news and trauma -- all of which places the state's residents even more prominently in the front of the battle to stop the madness and fix the health care system.
Adrian will be at the showing and hopes we can pack the theatre full. in addition to her worries about her parents and her home state, Adrian is deeply dismayed by George Bush's veto of the SCHIP bill extension. "The kids," said Adrian, "He cannot even cover the kids."
A website is in development for the Michigan chapter, but until it is up and ready, folks can visit www.apuhc.com. Adrian hopes to help those recent retirees of GM and those who have lost their jobs in Michigan and have no insurance or access to health care. This is an organization for health care patients - their families and friends - united in support for guaranteed universal health care for every American.
Labels: Adrian Campbell, GM, Michigan, SiCKO, UAW
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