On January 5th, Congress will vote on whether or not to give Paul Ryan (R-WI) a unilateral right to make budget decisions for all of our major programs, specifically Medicare and Medicaid. This means that Ryan will have the lives of millions of low-income households, seniors, and people with disabilities, including many of our children and youth, in his hands. Ryan has sponsored HR 4529, labeled as “A Roadmap for America’s Future”. Unfortunately, that roadmap leads not to security, but to an uncertain future that is riddled with unanswered questions and the prospect of inaccessibility to much needed healthcare. His plan is to all but eliminate Medicare and Medicaid as we know it, and, as his website states, “give individuals the opportunity to purchase a health care plan of their choosing”. That statement seems a lot like a downsizing employer inviting those they are about to lay off an “opportunity to find a new career”
The fact remains that eliminating these programs is an imbecilic folly. While his proposal will not affect those who are 55-years-old or older, it does drastically effect those who will reach retirement age in 2019. The Ryan plan would eliminate traditional Medicare, most of Medicaid, and all of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and convert them into vouchers that would sharply reduce or eliminate all major forms of health insurance that spread risk by pooling together the healthy and less healthy on a large scale. This means that the poor and the elderly would be left to purchase their own insurance in an insurance market that would remain largely unreformed. This means that the insurance companies can continue to charge low-income households, seniors, and people with disabilities a much higher premium based on age, gender, or health status.
This is unconscionable on every level imaginable. I am disabled myself, and I can firmly attest that the system is in dire straits, but the answer is not the elimination and privatization of these programs. The answer lies in revamping them, finding a better way to eliminate fraud, and streamlining the processes that are involved in obtaining them. Elimination and privatization will only serve to make a bad situation worse by further alienating low-income households, seniors, and people with disabilities.
I want everyone who is reading this to stop anything that is distracting them and read the words of a woman named Dawn, and how Ryan’s proposal will affect her:
Allow me to introduce myself. I’m 46 years old and I have worked 21 years at either two full time jobs, or one full time and one part time. Mostly, full time because I had a child, mortgage, car insurance, and health insurance to pay. I also paid in my federal taxes, Medicare and all that was added during those years. I did well during those 21 years, then one day it all came crashing down. I pulled my spine in half on the job. Workmans comp was useless, and had I not had private insurance I wouldn’t have been able to get any care. I went through hell and the pain of my injury is indescribable. I seriously wanted someone to put a gun to my head and pull the trigger. My private insurance only paid so much of my treatment, and I was left with the rest. Even worse, my doc told me I could never again hold the jobs I had been used to. I was devastated, and still to this day it hurts to know I’m not what I once was, and never will be.I automatically went on Social Security disability, receiving $312.00 a “month.” That was once a weeks pay check from one job, and I found myself having to “survive” for a month on one weeks pay while still providing for a growing child. I also was put on Medicare, which paid for a docs visit, but no diagnostics, and no prescription coverage.I did without medication, period. $109.00 of my monthly income went to pay my sorry, good for nothing insurance premiums.
Medicare stayed in this position for several years, then I received notice that my income would increase, and that I could choose which “company” would take charge of my Medicare. I finally had prescription cover…age. Yay! The bad news is that during the years I had no reasonable coverage or income, I went undiagnosed for an autoimmune condition they say is common to women — Hashimotos thyroidus. By the time I could get care, I had gained weight massively, it was water in the muscle tissue and I couldn’t breathe well, nor walk. I almost died from myxedema, a waking comatose state. The Medicare changes came in time to keep me alive, but the condition left damages on internal organs, my joints, and connective tissue. I was also found to be diabetic, and my body doesn’t know how to stop destroying itself without medication to suppress my immune system. I’m insulin dependent, my body has destroyed the pancreas’ ability to function normally. I certainly did not “cause” my condition, and no doctor can tell me “why” this condition is “common.”
I learned today that on the 5th of January, congress will be voting on whether to give Rep. Paul Ryan a unilateral right to make budget decisions for all of our major programs. Medicare is among them, and he wants to abolish it, but has back peddled and amended his proposal to cut Medicare for all those under the age of 55 — children included.If this happens and I lose my coverage, I will die a horrible death because my medications are the only thing standing between me and the reaper. I’m terrified — seriously terrified. I don’t want to drown in my own body fluids, struggling to take a breath of air while my heart swells to the point of having no room to beat. I’m so terribly scared at what I may have to face. I’ve worked so hard, and paid in my share, most times double working two jobs. They call Medicare an “entitlement??” I suppose I’m not “entitled” to live even though I’ve done my part, and still do when I can work a little. I still pay taxes. I know I’m not alone, I’m just one among so many like me. I feel very marginalized, used, kicked to the curb, insignificant, and I feel like I’ve worked only to be told “you can just die.” I have no hope for private insurance now. My state doesn’t provide all the meds I need. I have decided to plan my own funeral because that’s all I can see from here. That light at the end of the tunnel has turned out to be a god damned train.
If this resolution passes and comes to fruition, what lies ahead for Dawn and the hundreds of thousands of people under 55-years-old who are in similar and even more dire situations will be a travesty of immense proportions. The GOP refers to “death panels” under President Obama’s healthcare reform, but it seems to me the Republicans are the ones who would be responsible. Dawn’s story is not unique, and it remains yet another of countless reasons why the United States needs to adopt a single-payer National Healthcare system, otherwise known as Socialized Medicine. The UK did it fifty years ago and if you dig through the GOP propaganda, you will find that it works, and works well. Taxes are somewhat higher, which is inevitable. However, sometimes the sacrifice of the many for the benefit of the few should be a no-brainer. Our taxes pay for many things, our infrastructure, public libraries, police departments, etc. Allowing our low-income households, seniors, and people with disabilities to be left largely on their own is unconscionable, and if this bill comes to pass, it would serve as an embarrassment to our country and put us squarely in the eyes of the world as a Nation that doesn’t care.
It would be a travesty and we would have blood on our hands at the expense of the almighty dollar.