I'll be back to the usual mishmash of songs, dumb jokes, stories of the Babies!, and obscure superhero references tomorrow, but for today, this is important enough to take over all my blogs.
Fifteen Senators Voted Yesterday To Let Insurance Companies Kill Your Children.
I don't know how else to put it. Health care -- access to health care, access to doctors -- is a universal, inalienable right. We in America don't treat it as such, but it is, and the sooner everyone realizes that we should all be able to get medical care without worrying about it, without having to decide whether to pay the electric bill or the doctor bill, the sooner our world will be a better place.
Too bad 15 senators -- who I can only assume sold their souls to insurance companies, and who probably right now are counting the piles of unmarked bills dropped into their limos yesterday morning -- don't care whether you can get medical treatment for your children.
Yesterday, the "Senate Finance Committee," (a/k/a Pawns Of The Insurance Companies) voted 15-8 against the "Public Option." That is, they voted not to have a government-sponsored health care plan that would compete in the marketplace with other insurance plans.
They voted that way despite polls showing that 65% of Americans want that option.
And they voted that way despite the fact that Senators and prisoners -- who are, as far as I'm concerned, moral equivalents -- get public health care. Senators can buy a "public option" that provides fantastic health care. Prisoners get health care at no cost to themselves.
So, to put it bluntly, 15 Senators think child molesters deserve better health care than your children.
And the Senate Finance Committee voted that way even though Nikki White died.
It's doubtful that you know about Nikki White, and it's even more doubtful that those 15 Senators -- who I hope rot in hell-- know about Nikki White. They'd have to stop counting their campaign contributions to notice Nikki White, in part because Nikki White is dead.
She didn't have to be dead. Nikki White had an illness, lupus, that is treatable and not always fatal. But she's dead anyway, because Americans would rather spend money seeing a stupid Diablo Cody movie than pay for health care, and she's dead, anyway, because Senators and Congresspeople would rather line their pockets than provide health care.
Nikki White was employed, and working, and taking advantage of her employer-provided health care coverage when she was diagnosed with lupus at age 21.
Lupus is a totally, completely, manageable condition, if... if ... IF... the person suffering from it can get a doctor's care.
Nikki White soon became unable to work, and because she was unable to work, she wasn't able to get health care coverage anymore; not being employed, she was denied health care coverage, since for some reason stupid Americans and evil, child-hating Senators think that health care should only be given to the employed (and not even to all of them.)
Nikki tried, unemployed, to get health insurance coverage. But she was denied coverage for her lupus because it was a pre-existing condition.
So Nikki didn't get treatment for her lupus, at least not at first. She suffered and struggled with it and finally she collapsed one day and was taken to the emergency room. By law, emergency rooms have to treat people with life-threatening conditions, so that's good to know, right? While Senators are rolling, naked and greedy, in piles of insurance company money like pigs in slop, they've at least ensured that you'll be taken care of, if you're near death.
By then, though, there wasn't anything they could do to save Nikki's life. Nikki died of a treatable condition.
Nikki wasn't alone in dying because she lacked insurance coverage. The Urban Institute estimates that in 2006 22,000 people died because they didn't have insurance.
Think about that, Senators, when you get up from your slop-money rolling: 22,000 people in one year died because you didn't want to provide insurance coverage. Think about that, Americans who spend $5 for a cup of coffee but don't want to pay anything to provide health insurance for everyone. Think about that, free-marketers who have no freaking idea just how an actual free market works (and that we don't have anything near a free market when it comes to health care or health insurance.) Your $5 cups of coffee, re-election campaign funds, and stupid blown-dry Hannity Hair are killing 22,000 Americans a year.
But it's not just that they're dying. I want you to think about how they are dying, by knowing what it was like for Nikki White to die of lupus.
Lupus is a disease that causes the body to attack itself. This disease, which is rarely fatal if treated, causes arthritis, a painful swelling of the joints, muscle pain and weakness, fatigue, sun-sensitivity, hair loss, rashes, fever, anemia, and headaches. It can attack the organs of the body, as well. Patients get swelling in the wrists, feet and hands first, and then it can spread to ankles and shoulders and knees. Back pain is common as fluids leak from the kidneys and cause inflammation and leg swelling, too.
Swelling in the joints where the sternum meets the ribs causes intense pain that makes many sufferers think they're having a heart attack. Then lupus can attack the organs and cause them to swell. There can be sores in the mouth and light sensitivity. The symptoms are worst in the morning.
Most people who suffer from untreated lupus die of overwhelming infection (probably cause the bodies' antibodies are all killing the body, not the infecting agents) or kidney failure.
So that was Nikki's life, for eleven years: Swelling joints, pain, rashes, sores in her mouth, organs ballooning up, leaking fluids, headaches, and light sensitivity, all of which was worse in the morning, so that each night, when she went to bed, instead of looking forward to the next day, she had to dread it.
Until she died, that is. Until she died of a treatable disease.
There was a way to cure her, and it's simple. It requires just two laws.
First, pass a law that any insurance company which does business across state lines must cover pre-existing conditions. They can charge whatever they want, but they can't deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions.
Second, make the same plan that Senators and Representatives -- those greedy pigs -- get access to available to anyone who wants to buy it, but means-test the coverage so that if you earn very little, you pay very little. If you earn a lot, you pay a lot.
Doing those two steps, which are very simple, would guarantee that everyone gets health care if they want it. Everyone. And we'd all have access to the same health care as the child-killing senators who don't want you to have health care.
Doing those two steps does nothing more than level the playing field between all insurers. It does nothing more than impose the same system that we have with package delivery -- where there are private carriers and a public options -- with student loans (private lenders plus a public option), with schools (public schools haven't ended private schools) and hospitals (VA hospitals haven't put private hospitals out of business.)
There is simply no reason that health care shouldn't be provided. There's no reason those laws shouldn't pass. No reason beyond Americans are greedy, and Senators are stupid, and insurance companies have paid off those who are in charge of getting us to that point.
So if you are one of the people who believes that there shouldn't be a public option, if you are one of the people protesting higher taxes because you'd rather buy a $5 cup of coffee than pay a little more on your tax bills, if you are one of those stupid, mean, greedy people who thinks things are okay the way they are...
... then take a moment to think about Nikki, and how she died. Then go drink your stupid coffee and see how it tastes.
In the meantime, EVERYONE should be calling their senator or representative and telling him or her: I will pay a little more for my taxes if it helps save a life. I am personally volunteering, right now, to pay an extra 1% -- one percent, one measly percent-- of my gross income if it can help fund universal health care.
If you'd like to be a one percenter, if you're willing to see one less movie per year and brew your coffee at home so that people like Nikki don't die in agony, then call your representative or senator, or both, and tell them I'll pay one percent of my income in taxes if it means universal health care.
And then call these fifteen people who would rather see your children die in agony than vote for a public option, and tell them that, too, and tell them you'd rather they save lives than line their own pockets or protect their own careers:
Max Baucus: Call Max at (202) 224-2651 and tell him that you don't want him to let insurance companies kill your children.
Kent Conrad: Call "Senator" Kent at 202-224-2043 and tell him that lives are more important than his re-election.
Blanche Lincoln: Call Blanche at 202-224-4843 and tell her that her website's claim that she's trying to address health care is a lie.
Bill Nelson: Call Bill at 202-224-5274 and ask him why child molesters get public health care but you don't.
Thomas Carper: Call Tom at (202) 224-2441 and ask him if he knows who Nikki White was, and why that's important.
Chuck Grassley: Chuck claims to be interested in ferreting out wrongdoing in goverment -- so call "Chuck" at (202) 224-3744 and tell him that 15 members of the Senate Finance Committee, including him, appear to be wholly owned by the insurance industry.
Orrin Hatch: Orrin said on his website that "we should do exactly what American families are demanding." So call Orrin at (202) 224-5251 and tell him to do that. Then remind him that 65% of Americans are demanding a public option.
Olympia Snowe: Olympia claims to focus her energy on "key issues" that matter to Maine. People in Maine: Call Olympia at (800) 432-1599 and ask her why she thinks you want your children to die just so she can get re-elected.
Jon Kyl: Jon thinks that you don't deserve the same health care that he gets. Even though he's elected by regular people, he thinks he's better. Call him at (202) 224-4521 and tell him he's not.
Jim Bunning: One Kentuckian dies each day because he or she doesn't have health insurance. Jim Bunning, "Senator" from Kentucky, obviously thinks that's okay -- call him at 202-224-4343 and ask him why he's willing to let his own constituents die at a rate of one a day.
Mike Crapo: Call Mike at (202) 224-6142 and ask him if he has the public option for his health insurance.
Pat Roberts: "Senator" Pat Roberts recently voted to give money to help people find housing. Call him at (202) 224-4774 and ask him how people are supposed to live in those houses if they keep dying of treatable diseases.
John Ensign: John Ensign, a horrible human being, is bragging about how he voted to let people die just so he could get re-elected. And he's smiling about it. Call him at (202) 224-6244 and tell him you can't stand him and hope he loses his health care.
Mike Enzi: Mike's website today brags that he's fighting to keep down health care costs. By letting people die, Mike? Call him at (202) 224-3424 and say that.
John Cornyn: John Cornyn claims he's trying to improve your security and pushing PATRIOT Act extensions. If I was writhing on the floor of an emergency room in pain because all my swollen organs are shutting down due to an autoimmune deficiency treatment, I wouldn't care much about wiretapping issues -- which is fair, because John Cornyn doesn't care much about people who are, quite literally, dying for health care. Call him at 202-224-2934 and tell him to get his priorities straight.
That picture above is Nikki White before her troubles. This is her after she struggled with the disease: