The Healthcare Debate

I am pretty sure my friends on social media are tired of all of my posts about healthcare. We don’t all share the same views, but for me this is a really important topic, as it should be for everyone. Apathy is not acceptable because at some point we all need access to affordable healthcare.

Yes, you can argue that Obamacare is flawed and in many cases unaffordable. This is true and should be fixed. The problem is we can’t fix the flaws when we are busy playing politics and trying to substitute the current plan with a plan that in the end will be harmful. The harmful part is not my opinion. It is fact.

There is nothing in Graham-Cassidy that shows that deductibles will be lower or premiums will be less. Pre-existing conditions are not guaranteed to be covered, because the potential increase in premiums makes healthcare for people who need it the most unaffordable.

I for one, do not think having 50 different healthcare plans across the US is a good idea. Florida has chosen not to expand Medicare and is one of the worst states for mental healthcare and I am supposed to trust them with my healthcare? Even employer plans are at risk, because some of the mandates of Obamacare will be gone.

As part of a family where we have hit our out of pocket maximum for the past 3 years due to what is no pre-existing conditions, this bill scares me. Even the Republicans admit this is about politics. We need to make the debate about people.

Please tell our Senators to vote no. This is a bad idea.

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Writers block

I was sharing with a friend the other day that I really want to start writing again. I miss it. The problem I am facing is that there is just too much on my mind that I want to say. I know that the simple solution is to just break it down into bite size chunks, but then where do I start?

I remember in college when I had to write essays I would pace back and forth with pen and paper in hand until the words came. They always did.

Today, I made the decision to just start. To put down words and see where it goes. I hope it doesn’t mean that I write today and then leave the words behind again for months like I have been doing.

Part of it is that the world today is so overwhelming. It is like an emotional rollercoaster. Waiting for a hurricane and now watching the devastating effects of Irma and Maria unfold. The earthquake in Mexico, seeing mothers crying for their children in a school that has collapsed. Russia. Healthcare.

So I will use my words to pray, to comfort, to be kind. I will also use them to fight for what I believe in. To stand up for others.

And I hope I can put the words in writing.

Done rambling for now…

Peace out.

Labels

I have been more of a centrist than a a Republican or Democrat. I have always carefully considered the issues and candidates before casting my vote. Early in my life my parents taught me that voting was a privilege. I remember being in the voting booth with my mom back when it was curtains and levers. 

In my heart, I want to understand the deep division in this country. I feel like I don’t necessarily fit into one platform or the other. Both sides have some radical views that I don’t share, but when I side with one or the other it appears that I endorse all of the party platform. 

What I do believe in is that healthcare should be available and affordable. Right now our healthcare system is focused more on sick care than on healthcare. I agree that the ACA needs to be fixed, but it concerns me that we have no real replacement. What I would like is a single payer system like many countries have, but then I am labeled a socialist. 

I am pro-life. I mean this in a way that is more than just pro-birth. I hate war. I believe in gun safety. I am not anti-gun. Certainly we should have the right to protect ourselves in the case of a zombie apocalypse or other circumstances where our lives or freedoms are threatened. 

I keep seeing Republicans call people who are deemed progressive and college students in particular as snowflakes. Stop it. It just makes you look dumb and inconsiderate. Not all Bernie following millennials are weak minded and entitled. 

When it comes to faith. I love and follow Jesus. I am now working beside people who are not believers as well as people who are. It is an interesting dynamic, but being around people who believe differently opens the door for healthy conversation, learning, and debate. 

Today I went to a peaceful rally in Orlando in support of the Women’s march.  It was a beautiful event with women from all walks of life and of all ages.  I have already seen posts across the internet and people saying that women in this country can do what they want and should have no worries while people in other countries are truly oppressed. They think we are just whiny. One woman called protesters sluts and whores. She also calls herself a Christian.  It makes my heart hurt. 

We protest because we can. 

We protest because we should. 

We protest prejudice and judgement. 

As long as there are labels there will be fear. I want so badly to work together to make this country better because it is already great. (I heard that at the rally today.)

Truth and Consequences

Great Insights from Susan into writing and truth.

40 Acres on the Web

challenger

Before we were engulfed in the digital age, reporters depended mostly on human to human interactions to get the news. As a professional writer, you had to cultivate sources on the phone and in person.  You needed to be an expert listener and build trust with your sources.  It was a careful balance (as it is today) to get the story while protecting your source at the same time. Once you had the story, you had to cajole and horse trade to get a few sources to confirm the story on the record before you’d consider writing your piece.

I read somewhere recently that journalism is one of the few respected fields where you don’t need credentials to be really good.  It never occurred to me that this is true, although my experience certainly bears this out.  I’ve even heard it described more of a trade than a profession.

In the 90s, I…

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Speaking Up

I watched the movie Hidden Figures this weekend and I was so inspired not only by the intelligence of the women portrayed in the movie, but also by their respectful demeanor in how they stood up for themselves in a way which ultimately benefited others. As we approach the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr., his quotes seem to be so relevant now.

My quote for the week on my board at work is:

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent on things that matter.”

I wish this was a time when I could just go with the flow and blend in with the crowd, but it isn’t. For me, standing up and saying that I was going to diverge from the Republican crowd and vote for Hillary Clinton was the start of speaking up and speaking out. It was an easy decision for me not to vote for our President-elect, but it was a harder decision to tell it to my friends and to say why.

As January 20th comes closer, I feel the need to speak up when I don’t agree with something. I hope to be respectful. I hope not to be condescending. I will not go into the night and pull up my big girl panties and be silent because it is what it is. I will make phone calls, send emails, and shout from social media. I want to understand the whys, but at the same time, I think there are some things I might not ever fully understand.

I can’t say that Trump is not my President, because that is not my choice. As an American Citizen, I feel that I need to respect the office. However, I will exercise my first amendment rights to challenge the things I don’t agree with by using my freedom of speech.

Two Sides

As a former volunteer judge for Public Forum Debate, I loved that the kids who were debating had to research and defend both sides of an argument. We are all biased to prefer one side over the other, and even as a judge i had to work to take my biases out of the equation so that I could be an impartial judge in the process. It is a great exercise in understanding and listening. It is also a great exercise in having data and sources to back up your arguments.

Lately I have found myself in a position of advocating for gun safety. I have joined a committee with the League of Women Voters that is working towards making sure there is a balance between gun ownership and gun safety. I for one, am not a fan of guns at all, but I do understand the intent behind the Second Amendment and believe people should have a right to own a gun with some exceptions; a discussion for another day.

Since the Pulse shooting there have been a couple of other shootings in Florida that have received media attention. Most recently, yesterday at the Fort Lauderdale Airport. This shooting comes on the heels of SB 140 which is focused on open carry and extending guns to be allowed on college campuses, airports, and libraries.  I had recently asked my son, who is a great researcher and writer to help me to respond to an email from Senator Stuebe where he defended his position on open carry and college campus guns. My son said he would help, but later sheepishly asked me to consider that he might not be opposed to guns on campus. OUCH!

That conversation ensued in a short discussion about the state of society as we know it and the idea that promoting gun free zones might not be a good idea. I listened and still disagree, but I was happy that he felt comfortable challenging my views so that we could have a healthy discussion, I did see an article this morning on business insider that showed some data that gunmen rarely target gun free zones. I shared it with him.

I say all of this as a reminder to myself that all stories have two sides and it is important to listen and understand, It is also important to continue to seek information to back up our arguments rather than just listening to emotion or platform. I have been proved wrong before, and I am open to learning and understanding all points of view. My one caveat is that it needs to be healthy discussion, not hateful rhetoric.

 

 

 

Finding My Tree

Since around 2000, I have been working on my family tree. It has been challenging and interesting. Along the way there have been roadblocks and revelations. My sister Debbie and I have become unofficial detectives in the process. 

For me, working on my tree is just as much about history as it is connections, but it is really cool when you meet the one right person who can open up an entire branch of the family in one call, email, or Facebook message. 

We have connected with family as far away as Latvia and as close by as Florida. My daughter Adrianna, had an opportunity to meet some of our family in Latvia last year and shared a common bond of blue eyes with that family there. 

Meeting our family in France was really fun too and made the trip even more special. 

DNA testing has made the journey even more fascinating. Looking at connections and trying to place them in the tree can be a real mystery,  but when a clue is followed and it results in the answer it makes it all worthwhile. 

In addition to finding connections, we love to read the history of how family moved from one country to another. It is mind enriching and fun to find the facts. For some family it was fleeing war and oppression, for others it was opportunity. 

We even found some celebrities along the way. 

Some of my favorite sites are AncestryJewishgenGeni, and Gedmatch

Anxiety

I have never really been a chill person. When I get passionate about something I am all in. Sometimes I do get bored or lose interest and I move on, but sometimes it is more like an obsession. I am not sure I should admit that publicly, but if you know me, you already know that. 

Over the past 3 + years, healthcare and health insurance has become really important in my family. I realized as the new year started, this is the first year that we may not hit our out of pocket maximum in 3 years. (Yeah!) I also realize how thankful I am to have healthcare. The first week of 2016, our medical bill would have been over $13,000 for 1 chemo treatment for Eddie. I don’t even know what people without insurance do in that case. 

Obamacare is far from perfect, but we need a system in place for healthcare because we all need it at sometime. In 2009, I had surgery that would have cost over $50,000 without insurance. I could not have afforded that. 

My concern is that congress wants to appeal the law without a suitable replacement. While I am fortunate to have a good plan and insurance is offered at both mine and Eddie’s job, I get nervous about things like pre-existing condition coverage, whether my kids could afford insurance on their own, and talk about capping employer plans. 

The thought of 20 million people losing coverage makes me anxious. Let’s encourage lawmakers to have a solution before they repeal the coverage we have. Unintended consequences make me anxious. 

Eating My Feelings

I just scrolled past a video of a mother and daughter who worked together to lose lots of weight. They planned their meals in advance and exercised together. In the process they documented their weight loss. 

Losing weight isn’t a New Years resolution for me, it is a life resolution. The 2 biggest barriers to success is my love of food (warm bread and sugar of all kinds) and the tendency to eat my feelings. 

This past year has been one of those throw caution to the wind years. It has not worked out well for my waistline or for my health I am sure. Any day now, I will suck it up and get my blood test done to see where all my levels lie… cholesterol is probably up. 

In my teens and 20’s it was never a problem, but now the weight is harder to get off. I have a feeling this is going to be a tough year, but I am going to try really hard to exercise my feelings instead. 

So if you see me pick up a cookie or other bad for me treat, suggest a celery stick instead. Here is to shedding 20… 

Politics and Friendships 

One of my friends recently told me he has enjoyed watching me move to the left over the past year. I am not sure what that means exactly, but I have spent quite a bit of time thinking about how political views can affect relationships. 

Yesterday, I read a book on the life of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. It was one of those type of books where I couldn’t put it down because it was so interesting. One of the things I really found to be profound was the friendship between Justice Ginsburg and Justice Scalia. They were so different and had such opposing views on many things, but they shared a love of Opera.  They also spent time reading each other’s opinions. 

As I think about their friendship, I think about my family and friends. I have always been more conservative than most of my family, but we could still have good discussions about politics and in the end agree to disagree. On many points though, because of my slant towards social justice, we agreed. 

This election was ugly and I saw many relationships splinter. It was not as simple as agreeing to disagree as the election got contentious. In many cases, facts were thrown to the wind and people hiding behind social media felt very free to say things that came off as hateful. 

I have to admit that I shared my opinions more than normal and commented on way too many posts. While I don’t feel like I changed anyone’s opinion, I still felt like I needed to stand up for what I believed. I tried to respond respectfully and not put out name calling or mean memes. 

I hope that we can find ways to have civil discussions without name calling. I plan to read a lot, listen a lot, and continue to share my thoughts publicly. I hope others will too.