• We the people?

    by Christy Sillman

    The debt ceiling deal has passed. Congress bought us time (specifically until December 23rd, 2011) through increasing the debt ceiling and deciding to spend less. They won’t increase revenue (through increased taxes) unless they have to, and plan to decrease spending through governmental program cuts which will be determined by a new committee.

    What they’ll cut, how they’ll cut, and when they’ll cut is going to dominate the political discussion for the remainder of this year, and if they don’t figure it out by the December 23rd deadline, everything gets cut. I’m terrified by the possibility that a group of republican extremists will get their way and Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security are going to get snip-snipped. It’s off the table in the first wave of cuts, but it looks like they might be setting their sights on these programs for the second wave.

    Now before I go on any further, I just want to preface this by saying I’m not well educated on political happenings. In fact, I try to avoid them. It drives me crazy, and I know that if I invest myself in the debates I will develop an anger problem that will certainly not help my health at this time.

    I feel the same way about sports. I’m a passionate person, and so if I invest emotionally in a team, I will let the game affect me. This occurred in 2002 when I watched game 6 of the Kings v. Lakers’ Western Conference Finals in the middle of downtown Sacramento only to be surrounded by Lakers’ fans. I was screaming at big burly men. I told them they didn’t belong in Sacramento, and I felt sincere hatred towards all of them when we lost that game. Well, I mostly hated the referees, but the Lakers’ fans were rubbing the win in my face.

    I’m getting palpitations just thinking about that game.

    However, as a nurse I feel compelled to talk a little bit about what is at stake here.

    What matters most to you in the world? Most will probably say love, family, and HEALTH.

    We are not a healthy nation. In fact, we’re a very unhealthy nation. I believe the root cause of many of our issues lies in our lack of health care. If people are not healthy then they can’t work. If they can’t work then they are poor and don’t have health insurance. Two of the most neglected areas of our country’s health care system are prevention/health promotion and mental health. We’re approaching the welfare of our people in a rather wacky manner – health insurance depends upon employment yet the people who need health insurance the most can’t work.

    Currently our government has two programs that help those who are unable to work, or who don’t have enough income or resources.
    Medicaid (a state-governed program) provides health care to pregnant women, children under 19, people 65 and older, the blind, the disabled, and people living in nursing homes who have limited income and resources. These people are who our government has determined to be our most vulnerable citizens.

    Medicare is a federal program which provides care to people over 65 years old, people with long-term kidney disease, and people on permanent disability who can’t work. It requires a monthly fee and deductibles for doctors’ visits, medications, and hospitalizations apply.

    Social Security is a program which you “buy” into when you work in the United States, which will provide financial benefits to you should you become disabled, retire or to supplement your family members after your death. Social Security pays approximately 40 percent of an average wage earner’s income after retiring. Forty percent of a $50,000 dollar a year salary is $20,000 dollars a year. That’s $1,600 dollars a month. This may sound like a lot, but if you’re paying your monthly Medicare fee plus all your deductibles, plus the cost of living, it is not much at all.

    So the Republican extremists are targeting these people?? The people who are disabled or elderly? The most vulnerable in our society? Really??? REALLY????

    How does this make any sense? These are the people who need help the most!

    Pretend we’re a family. Mom needs money, and Dad’s sitting on a load of cash he uses for fun – like to fly that private jet around. Mom decides that in order to get more money she’s going to stop paying for the kids’ food. Mom and Dad still get to eat but the kids are screwed. After all, Mom and Dad control the house, and the kids just do what they’re instructed to do.
    What is Mom going to do when the kids start saying they’re hungry? They’re going to raid the house for food and ultimately get angry at Mom and start acting out.

    What is our country going to do when we stop providing financial assistance and health care to our most vulnerable people? They will act out. Crime will go up; they will seek out sick care in the Emergency Rooms because there is a law that requires ER’s to provide care to individuals regardless of insurance status. The hospitals will have to treat sicker patients, and will ultimately suffer under the weight of unpaid medical bills, thus decreasing the quality of health care being provided, even to those WITH insurance.

    The line is being drawn in the sand. Is the United States a country which speaks for “the people” or do our elected officials only speak for those with power and money? What can we do to stop them?

    I’m getting emotionally involved now, aren’t I? You republican extremists don’t belong in my country! And you don’t get to dominate the political game you’ve created. Let’s hope President Obama is a better referee than those NBA referees.

    • Christy, agree with everything you said. I, too, have such a sadness for our country. I have said for years we are heading to third world status. If we don’t care about the bottom half or more they will rise up, deservedly so and take over in some fashion, most probably violence and that makes me even more sad. Our future depends on everyone in America having a roof over their heads, healthcare and a good solid education. If these needs are not met we will indeed sink lower and lower in the cesspool that is visible in India and other really third world countries. I used to believe in the USA and while some think we are the best country in the world, I think we can do so much better to help everyone. I am a social democrat and am still proud of the giving that goes on here but I think we need to become more isolationists and help our own to succeed and if we have anything left then help others in other countries.

      • Carolyn Wyler

      • August 7, 2011 at 11:23 am
      • Reply

      I totally agree with you Christy. I hate when the government wants to keep taking from those that are really struggling, or from a smaller perspective, when Businesses are willing to lay off a few minimum wage employees, but still give their CEO’s millions in bonus’s so that they can buy their five houses, two yachts.

      I like how you said pretend we’re a family. We kind of are and we should all help take care of our family.

      • Lisa

      • August 7, 2011 at 1:57 pm
      • Reply

      Christy, I agree with a lot of what you say, but it isn’t just Republican Extremists who are to blame. It is everyone in Congress. The deal struck was because both sides were politically motivated, and were not thinking. I do want to say that you forget who a big portion of the people who get Medi-caid (cal) are. They are not just the ones you mentioned. I see all the drunks, druggies, homeless, etc, especially in our little hospital. We also get the roaming 20-somethings who though they could get a real job, go from Pot farm to Pot farm, getting paid mucho money to cut, and then go to social services to get their handout. What about them? Aren’t they taking money from those who really need it? So I wish people would ration it back a little and realize that everyone in Congress is to blame.

      • David Lacy

      • August 7, 2011 at 2:02 pm
      • Reply

      Dear Lisa,
      The S&P who did the downgrade, state in their OWN official report, that it was Republican unwillingness to raise taxes that prompted them to downgrade (see report beginning on page 4). The Bush tax cuts WERE the cause. That’s a fact.

    • Lisa, the % of pot heads and druggies and others like that make up such a small % of the funding. I would think illegal immigrants are a huge part of California’s issues yet most have fake social se3curity cards so their wages are going into the pot and they will never see that money nor will it be paid out since it is made up numbers or people who are dead. I think they balance each other out to our advantage as far as taking taxes our of their pay and it actually going to accounts they have no access to. There will always be cheaters but what about companies that bill the armed services for goods that are about 1 million % over the cost and the government pays it. Every area of spending needs to be checked and under control. Also, contracting hospitals and outpatient centers that charge $15,000 knowing they will get $2000 but have to bill the insurance the highest possible to get the most back. That too me is also outrageous. Funny money all on paper. Makes me crazy when I see my bills for my meniscus tear and repair. It’s a joke. So many things wrong. Here is my blog where just today I address my concerns for the USA.

      • Bob Baird

      • August 7, 2011 at 6:19 pm
      • Reply

      The reduction in taxes might be partially to blame but uncontrolled spending and greed have more impact. The meltdown of the real estate market and government bailout of banks and brokerage firms along with spending as usual by Washington has tripled our national debt. The problem will not be fixed until the people we elect and send to Washington have to abide by the same programs and laws they force on the rest of us. I fear that the give away programs by Obama and our unconrolled thirst for deficit spending has placed this wonderful country on a very perilous road and the result will be a dictatorship which usually replaces democracies after the country has been financially bankrupted. Financial cuts are always tough but if you don’t have money for the whole chicken then you eat chicken necks until you have the means for something better.

      • Lisa

      • August 7, 2011 at 10:58 pm
      • Reply

      By the way Christy, I forgot to say, “great column”. Made people think, and that’s what we all should do is think. Love you!

      • Christy

      • August 9, 2011 at 10:29 am
      • Reply

      Thanks Lisa. I think what we have to think about is why are there druggies, homeless, criminals…ect? I would say our lack of mental health care in our country is a major part of the blame. The fact that health care in general is tied to employment is scary, and not every one can, and should, work due to mental health or physical health issues. Not everyone, but many are victims to a system which failed them. There are very capable and powerful people who are robbing us much worse than the people using public assistance programs.
      I agree that spending needs to be looked at and I’m happy that the defense budget is taking a hit, but I REALLY hope it doesn’t hit the soldiers benefits and health care. We need to decrease spending while increasing revenue through tax reform (by evening the tax “playing field” through tax increases for the super rich).
      Bottom line is the one thing I hoped for when Obama became president was that he would have a good influence of congress to quit the bipartisan squabble, but what we just went through was a display of how much worse it has gotten, and it wasn’t Obama who has made it worse, in fact to many democrats dismay he’s been a little to accommodating. Ultimately, congresses lack of focus on the American people (not the rich and powerful) is what is bringing us to a breaking point. It’s time we started holding the corporations which are corrupting our government accountable – if not legally than financially through taxes.

      • Jen

      • August 10, 2011 at 6:47 am
      • Reply


      Recently found your blog and must say I love it. I am an ER nurse and a CHD patient as well so I too can appreciate and see things from both sides. Your stories are heart warming and something very relatable for me so thank you.

      In regards to this post, may people don’t understand that when the hospital has to “eat” the cost of ER patients without insurance what really happens is prices increase for those who do have insurance and pay their bills. The hospital isn’t going to get that money from the uninsured and those who don’t pay their bills so they jack up the prices for those of us who do. We have health care for all as in a patient cannot be denied care however the USA is going about it in a very costly way. Debt issues and no real health care for all (not to mention a billion dollar a day war) coincidence… I think not.

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