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Morning over the bay

Medicaid, Medicare or Don't Care?

Tim Hindley

  • Michael Burslem

    "There has been a great deal of heated discussion about raising the debt ceiling. How much of it is related to the health care debate?" I think the real fear is the diminished influence of the US in the world, and their inability to solve political issues outside the US by force as they have previously been used to. The health care debate is just a red herring. However, I am thankful that I live in Canada, where my health care needs are met by tax dollars. I'm happy to share my poverty with others. However, whenever i travel outside North America I realize just how rich we really are.

  • Stephen

    I have never understood the American opposition to universal health care. I have lived in Canada and Sweden; in both places it has been the one of the most cherished and defended values of the citizens. I think it is great and gladly pay toward the care of others.

  • Nicole Solomon

    I support the national health care system as long as it is put in place to really help the poor instead of make it harder on them. How much of the real help to the poor will have to be trimmed off the bills before congress actually allows it through? Or will they ever allow it? There is such an intense backlash in this country against this system because of propaganda mostly instilled by insurance companies and larger employers that don't want to have to be "responsible to pay for this" when they don't realize that it is actually cheaper nationally to implement such a system than to pay the write-offs in taxes we do as a nation for those without insurance to still be treated through the emergency rooms and hospitals of our country. Either way, if someone is extremely sick, they have the right to go to the hospital for a certain level of emergency care, which is ultimately at a much greater cost to tax payers than doctor visits that would prevent the illness getting to extreme levels. Our DFACS system also is not set up to help keep families together. If one does receive help in this country, it is often at the expense of one's family. Single mothers can get help for their children--if the father is not in the home and if they sign papers to get child support from them. The system is set up to only help families if they split up and putting court cases against each other. The entire system needs to change. Do we want to support the family unit at the poverty level or do we not value this as a nation? It all goes together--the health bill, the medicaid, medicare, food stamps, etc. If a family needs help, then they had better have some other family to help them, because if the father is even minimally making any kind of income and in the home--that family cannot receive help. It is a deplorable system that needs changing if it is to be what the American people envisioned it to be. It has slowly deteriorated to the point it is at today, but Americans do have the voice to change these things back to what our country ultimately wanted in the first place--a system in place for those that need help that will actually help them get back on their feet and not need assistance after some time. The system as it is today keeps people where they are at and does not encourage self-advancement. I am grateful for a church that takes a stand for the poorest of the poor and says "enough is enough" we must care for those who need help!

  • Tamara

    I am very glad to read this essay. I am an occupational therapist specializing in wheelchair seating and mobility and other assistive technologies for children and youth with disabilities. As such I know many, many families who struggle to care for their children. I was once one of them, because our youngest daughter was born with cerebral palsy and profound deafness. She entered eternity ten years ago but the twelve years that we had her initiated me into the disability and chronic care world in a way that I would never experience as a mere professional. Our nation's leaders and the wealthy (or folks with jobs that have great benefits) are completely out of touch with the reality of what ordinary people cope with when catastrophic illness or long-term disability enters the life of an individual and family. My husband is Canadian, and in the last few years our family in Canada has dealt with juvenile diabetes, a chronic heart condition, cancer and most recently, my 84 year old mother-in-law had a heart attack. They have all received great care with one major difference from living south of the border - they did not have to worry about how to pay for it.

There has been a great deal of heated discussion about raising the debt ceiling. How much of it is related to the health care debate? This week I heard several people say that they did not know if they would get their monthly disability check if the debt ceiling were not raised. Do our politicians know the anxiety level of the poor? Have our nation’s values become derailed?

Last year at my daughter’s graduation ceremony I heard Dr. Ben Carson, none too subtly, denounce the suggestion of some form of nationalized medicine. At the time I thought, “Dr. Carson, you have lost touch with the poor, the elderly, and the long-term sick of your nation.” Unfortunately Dr. Carson isn’t alone in this disconnect.

I am 66 years old and have lived about half my life in the United States (with privatized medicine) and half in England (under the National Health Service). Admittedly England has problems, but in my experience, England’s health care system is far more beneficial for citizens with middle and lower income than is ours. If it were not for Medicare and Medicaid I believe the United States would be a third world country in terms of health care.

Seven years ago my wife and I were living in Northamptonshire, England. We met John, a young engineer whose wife had just been struck down with meningitis and was in a coma in a London hospital. John was a budding engineer in a large construction firm and a keen lay preacher. He was still bubbling about his marriage to his wonderful wife, Linda, and their two lovely boys. He told us that as he sat in prayer by his wife’s bed he said, “With the help of God I will not let the devil have the last word in this situation.” Weeks later, when Linda came to consciousness, they found that she was completely lucid but the only thing she could do for herself was blink.

It took one and a half years before Linda could be brought home, but then it was to a virtual hospital room, set up in John’s house by the National Health with two nurses on duty at all times – a rota of six nurses every twenty-four hours. The detail and cost of this would boggle the collective minds of any insurance company.

Two weeks ago I met John in Europe at a friend’s wedding. When he wasn’t socializing, he was preparing intensely to bring the message of Jesus to the young people of his village, secure in the knowledge that Linda was being well-looked after. She was even able to take part in the festivities over the phone.

Friends in Orange County, New York experienced something similar. Peter’s wife Joan was diagnosed with a degenerative neuro-muscular disease. But Peter’s insurance company would fund only the cheapest option: putting Joan in a nursing home.

Peter had a good job as a police detective but his love for Joan led him to decide for early retirement so that he could keep her at home. The bulk of her care as well as most of the expenses have fallen on the family. Although Peter has remained a faithful and cheerful husband, this situation is not without much stress and anxiety.

Of course, the faithfulness and dedication of these two husbands is the most important part of both situations. But isn’t it our task as a society to support this kind of love? “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” If John or Peter were your neighbor, which support system would you want them to have?

stethoscope and 100 dollar bill
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