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.