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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Why I Support Health Care Reform

These are hard times. However for some Americans, it’s always been hard times. Back in the 80’s and 90’s when I had a good job in my field, my hair stylist contributed to my financial success by keeping me looking stylish, sharp, professional, and well-groomed. Only a few years older than me, she is passionate, talented, experienced, and devoted to her craft. She is good at what she does, and she has developed a loyal customer base. For years she has put in 60 and 70 hour weeks on her feet to take care of her customers and pay her bills and support her family. I used to feel bad because she didn't have access to an affordable comprehensive health care plan, or even sick leave or a pension plan all the while she was helping me to have all of those things. I felt especially bad when she had to leave her chosen field and even sell her home because of health problems and because she worried about a retirement income a few years ago. I have to wonder how many people in the health and beauty field have faced a similar dilemma. And yet what would we do without them?

Another person who has never had access to health care is my daughter. She has built her career and considerable expertise as a server and a cook in the hospitality industry on the east coast and locally. She has always had to pay any health care costs out of her own pocket or go without. Still in her early forties, she is a young and healthy woman. But what will happen to her when she reaches age fifty and beyond? She will certainly start to need more preventive healthcare services. I have to wonder how many people in the food service and hospitality industry face a similar dilemma. And what would we – and what would the American economy – do without them?

Recently I’ve come across hard times myself. This January my not-for-profit employer had to double its insurance premiums. I knew I either had to find a second job or look for a new job to be able to afford health care. I was incredibly thankful when an opportunity that looked good on the surface opened up with the new hospital. Although my previous employer wanted to keep me,I decided to go to work for the new hospital for better pay, better benefits, and an exciting opportunity to train clinicians on how to use their new electronic medical record software. Unfortunately the new hospital fired me after 8 weeks. Now, at age 59, I am without a job and any income. Initially my unemployment was denied. Of course I appealed and the State found in my favor – but it has been 4 months since I lost my job and as of this writing I still haven't received any unemployment compensation from the State. In the meantime, I’ve pretty much exhausted our savings and have had to cash out pension funds early to pay the bills – at a time when pension values are down and even though there could be a huge tax disadvantage. I can now understand the sense of abandonment the victims of Katrina must have experienced as they waited and waited while the people and institutions they thought they could count on never came to help them.

In my case I haven’t been waiting – I’ve been job-hunting and otherwise getting on with my life. But age 59 is a hard sell when you are a woman in the technology field with family to look after in the Lafayette area. Even if you look in Indianapolis. If it weren’t for President Obama’s 85% COBRA discount, I wouldn’t have health care. But so far I have been able to make the monthly payment because of it.

I have decided to share my story on this blog to add to the sheer mass of voices of people across the nation who need jobs and who need quality, timely, and affordable healthcare. Let’s face it – like the auto industry, the health care and insurance industry has had YEARS to address this problem. They have totally dropped the ball all the while increasing their own salaries and bonuses by orders of magnitude as they left the average American worker behind in the dust. It is time to solve this problem. The American people voted for Bill Clinton in 1993 because they wanted Health Care Reform. We watched as the focus shifted instead to balancing the budget. Then we watched another eight years as George Bush and the Republicans made a total farce of themselves, their party, their values, and the whole concept of balancing the budget – all the while evidently thinking that we the public are stupid or that we’ve forgotten.

Well we haven’t. We voted for Health Care sixteen years ago, and we are still waiting. My COBRA runs out 9 months from April. If I am still unemployed by then, I hope that the United States will have affordable, timely, quality health care options for me and anyone else who needs them.


1 comment:

Penny Auction said...


Good information in this post and the American people voted for Bill Clinton in 1993 because they wanted Health Care Reform. We watched as the focus shifted instead to balancing the budget.

James Parker.
Online Auction