Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Your Health Insurance Is Just Not That Into You

Your Health Insurance Is Just Not That Into You
by Still Bernin'
(Editor's note: Links to help you take action on health care are below under the People's Action piece.)

Comedian and social commentator Jimmy Dore wrote a great book called Your Country Is Just Not That Into You, and it's a real eye-opener.  I decided to write this short piece in hopes it will also open eyes, so we can reach Americans who are still on the fence in the health care crisis discussion. It's time they wake up and see that "big government" isn't their enemy and definitely "big business" isn't their friend. In fact, it's often the other way around when it comes to health care.

Like most Americans, I've had my run-ins with health insurance companies. I'll never forget the time I tried to make an appointment with an orthopedist's office to receive some physical therapy treatment for a possible carpal tunnel problem and was told, "We don't accept your insurance. It doesn't pay enough." 

Huh? I was working for the federal government at the time and had purchased my health care from a private insurer from the agency's plan. Senators and congresspersons have some of the best health care in the world we're told, but a lowly worker for the feds is stuck with some of the worst, obviously. My only choice was to take the insurance offered, since I had no other employment or a spouse's or parent's plan to go on. At the time, I thought I'd landed a good job with good benefits, but they were quickly played out and my injury remained and no one would offer me affordable care.

To make a long story short, I never was able to convince a doctor to take me on so my problem could be taken care of properly. I used ice and heating pads constantly and toughed it out. I saw a chiropractor for pain relief and paid out of pocket, but I eventually lost almost all mobility in my hand and wrist. Essentially, I couldn't use my entire arm anymore. I asked for other work duties so my injury could heal, but I was told they didn't have any use for me. 

I eventually lost my job because it hurt too much to type or use a computer mouse. Desperate for treatment, I tried to get workman's compensation but was totally blown off and vilified. It took me several months to convince the state to give me unemployment benefits because I'd been forced into signing an "I quit" statement instead of being fired because I was injured on the job.

Yeah, you try telling me and millions of other Americans in similar situations that private health insurance is the best thing, the only way to go, for our health care. We'll bite your head off.

I've learn more about how private health insurers think from a subsequent job many years later. I can't say all private health insurers operate the same way, but I have a sneaking suspicion they do. Reading and double-checking one particular private health insurer's paperwork before it goes to the printer has given me great insight into how the collective minds of America's private health insurance corporations function. 

You know that little print at the bottom of their contracts you can't read? I've read it and proofed it carefully and discovered the real reason for its small type font--they don't want you to know they're not really interested in you or your health. Most of the legalese is a fairly straightforward and states bluntly: "We'll do everything and anything not to pay on any claims you make. If you even forget to dot your I's or cross your T's, you're screwed. Nothing personal--we just want the money."

Somehow, Americans are supposed to trust these mega-billionaires of the private health insurance and "Big Pharma" industries to do the right thing and take care of us whenever we're sick or injured. Sure they will. I trust them to take our last cent from our bank accounts and transfer it to their offshore, non-taxable bank accounts in the Cayman Islands. They don't really care if ordinary people are healthy or not because it's not good for business. It's better for them to keep us at death's door and milk us for all we've got, as we mortgage our homes and sell off our belongings to raise enough cash to cover our cancer treatment.
That's why the growing consensus in this country is for Medicare for All, a national health insurance that will cover Americans from cradle to grave. Progressive thinkers have been talking about it for years. Bernie Sanders and Jill Stein mentioned it frequently throughout the 2016 campaign cycle and received much applause and cheers at their events--which the mainstream media, of course, didn't cover. (And why would they? Ever notice who buys the big commercials spots on their networks? Big Pharma is one.) With the recent brouhaha over the GOP's "Trumpcare" (more "wealth care" than health care), it's as if Medicare for All was meant to be.

In fact, if you do a little reading, you'll find out that Medicare was supposed to cover all Americans when it was first signed into law in 1965. Unfortunately, President Johnson was forced to make concessions to the private health insurance industry (a powerful lobbying entity even fifty years ago) to limit Medicare only to retirees in its first phase. The second and subsequent phases (to cover everyone else who were supposed to be covered) never made it, leaving us with the patchwork mess of inadequate to nil health care many Americans are stuck with today.

 The next time someone tells you, "We can't have universal health care like folks in Sweden, the U.K. or Canada have--it'll lead to death panels!" you can reply with, "We can't have zero guaranteed health care in this country because it leads to tens of thousands of preventable deaths per year--we already have death panels! Why do you want your fellow Americans to suffer and die preventable deaths when the solution is at hand?" See if that will shut them up. (If it doesn't, tell them to read this: Single-Payer is Cheaper AND Better than what we have or these sobering health care statistics.)

Then, get on the phone and call your elected representatives and tell them you're sick and tired of Americans being sick and tired to the point of death because our Congress values tax breaks for the mega-wealthy and massive spending on drone wars to kill poor Yemenis more than protecting the health of ordinary Americans. Now's not the time for pulling punches. Now's the time to hit them with a hard dose of our reality--while we've still got functioning arms to do so.
BIO: Still Bernin' has no love of so-called "compassionate conservatism." It's killed and injured enough Americans. It's high time to speak out and act to build a future to believe in. Power to the people!

A Millions for Medicare Health Care Town Hall 
photos by C. A. Matthews
What is single-payer, anyway? That was the town hall topic. A variety of organizations hosted tables with information. SPAN Ohio handed out information on single-payer health care.

A near capacity crowd gathers at the Maumee, Ohio, public library--twice as many as the last town hall held there on health care. It appears people are becoming more aware and more concerned about providing health care for all Americans and learning what to do about it.

 A Powerpoint on H.R. 676, Medicare for All Act, was given and Q & A followed with a spin of the "Wheel of Misfortune." It demonstrated the usual outcomes of our current system of health care coverage. "Bankruptcy" came up twice, and we were informed there are 1,300 medical bill-related bankruptcies filed in the US every single day. Even more scary, 75% of those bankruptcies are filed by persons who have private health insurance coverage.


This just in from People's Action (7/25/17):

The Senate just passed a motion to proceed with repealing our health care. A final vote on the Senate bill is expected by the end of this week. And senators themselves still don’t know which version of the bill they are going to vote on.

They even flew in Senator John McCain from Arizona to cast a crucial vote while he’s recovering from surgery for brain cancer. A surgery he has access to because he has world-class health care that we pay for. And yet he, and other Republican senators, don’t think that our families deserve the same life saving care.

Whatever bill comes up for a vote, this is what we know: tens of millions will lose health care. Thousands will die. Just so that drug corporations and insurance companies can rake in exorbitant profits and billionaires can pay less in taxes.

That is cruel. That is immoral.

This is a do or die moment for all of us and our loved ones. It’s urgent that you take action.

Call now. Politicians who care about their constituents don’t vote away their health care. Tell them to vote NO on the final bill.

If your senator is a Republican, tell them you will do everything you can to unseat them if they move forward with this bill.

If your senator is a Democrat, tell them you expect them to do everything they can to stop this bill on the floor. With millions of lives on the line, with the democratic process in jeopardy, now is the time to take bold action.

We also urge you to take to the offices of your Member of Congress or Senator. Or head down and hold a rally in front of your local news station.

Remember what we’ve done so far. Trump and the Republicans said they’d repeal the Affordable Care Act on Day 1. It’s Day 187. We’ve called their offices. We’ve held rallies and prayer vigils. Some of us have even gotten arrested in an effort to stop this bill.

We’ve forced them back to the drawing board three times. We can do it again. But only with your help.

Thank you for being a health care champion,
LeeAnn Hall
People’s Action
  Click here to sign the petition via the Action Network.

The Summer of Love 2.1--The Summer for Progress

I don't know... I like the "Summer for Progress" People's Platform that Our Revolution national (and many other activist groups) are proposing, and I support their stand, but I feel they're going about it the wrong way. I wrote an email to Our Revolution explaining what bothers me about it and quoted their email in the spots that really bugged me.

Here's what I wrote to them:

I support the Summer for Progress, but don't you think there's a fatal flaw to it if we have to mobilize "to ensure every Democrat in Congress supports core progressive tenets."

This statement means that Democrats aren't to be trusted to act as progressives on these important issues. This means that trying to placate, cajole or downright embarrass Democrats into acting progressively is probably not going to meet with 100% success. Is it really worth it, then?

If, as you say, "progressive support means putting people over profit" then why isn't Our Revolution working with the Green Party, USA? Their slogan is "People, planet and peace over profit." They seem to be the people to work with, the party to build up and support. The Democrats aren't progressives you're telling us--and their actions confirm it. Shouldn't we be moving on and become Greens?

Feelin' the Bern, but not seeing it reflected by the DNC (as seen in this article on how health insurance lobbyists have scared off  Democrats from supporting single-payer health care).

Here's the reply I received:

Our Revolution is a separate and distinct organization that emerged from the Bernie 2016 campaign, and we are committed to continuing that campaign's fight to reclaim democracy for the working people of our country.

Our Revolution is non-partisan, and in no way affiliated with the DNC or any political party. We support progressive legislation, and candidates who are exemplary representatives of the Political Revolution - regardless of their party affiliation.

Thank you again for your email, and we hope to earn your continued support!

In solidarity,

Our Revolution Help Desk Volunteer

(What you think? Did they address my concerns or not? Leave your comment in the comment section below. Thank you.)


314 Action

They’re not even trying to hide it anymore.

Trump’s EPA head Scott Pruitt went on a local conservative radio show last week and let slip what he’s really trying to do to the EPA. Here’s the exchange:

Co-host Andrea Lindenburg:

I like what Donald Trump has done here as president. He took a guy who wanted to get rid of the EPA -- dismantle it -- and put him in charge of it.

Scott Pruitt:

Ha. That’s right. [1]

Unbelievable. We can’t let someone who has been tasked with protecting America’s air and water and critical natural resources get away with sabotaging his own agency.

Add your name now to send a message to Scott Pruitt: We won’t let you shut down the EPA without a fight.

Scott Pruitt has already done everything in his power to diminish the EPA. He’s fired dozens of key scientific advisers, downplayed human involvement with climate change, and aggressively catered to fossil fuel executives, the very industries he’s tasked with regulating.

We can’t afford to let this go any further. Sign on to tell Scott Pruitt he won’t get away with refusing to do his job >>

Thanks for speaking up.
Harmony Knutson
Director of Advocacy
314 Action

1. "Did Trump’s EPA Chief Just Say His Mission Is to Dismantle the Agency?" Mother Jones, July 17 

From Move to Amend:
The Grinch Who Stole Democracy

After Donald Trump ascended to the presidency, despite losing the popular vote by an astounding margin, there just wasn't a lot of cheering to be heard in Whoville. Trump is like The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, with the notable exception that Trump doesn't have a heart, not even one ten sizes too small. 

All the Who-boys and Who-women, Who-girls and Who-men were stunned by the news that the Trump from Mt. Trump-it, still totally un-glued,
Was now ruling over Whoville, and all of the Who's in it. (Who knew?)

Then the Who's took a moment, and gathered their breath;
They gathered their voices and began yelling back:
Mr. Trump from Mt. Trumpit, resistance is growing by Who-leaps and Who-bounds, and we Who-people are not backing down.

We'll fight with Who-might for Who-rights and Who-power until the Trump from Mt Trump-it falls from his Ivory Trump Tower!

After that, the Who's began volunteering, forming committees and doing research. They spread out into their communities and began talking to their neighbors. The whole community worked together across differences to form a strategy to establish real participatory democracy, just like Move to Amend!

There are dozens of ways Move to Amend can put volunteer skills to work in building the democracy movement. Click here to sign-up. 

Our mission is to establish authentic, participatory democracy for all people, not corporations. Our first goal is to help build a diverse democracy movement capable of passing the We the People Amendment. The amendment abolishes corporate constitutional rights (corporate personhood) and money as free political speech. 

If you're new to Move to Amend, or joining the growing resistance; if you want to do more, but don't know where to start, or if your #1 issue just hit a brick wall built by the corporatized state, we invite you to volunteer with Move to Amend, the Campaign to Legalize Democracy!

We provide the tools and resources to become effective grassroots organizers. By volunteering, folks with all levels of expertise can hone skills in a number of arenas, or just help out as needed.

  • Collect signatures on the Motion to Amend petition and help us grow our movement and expand our reach,
  • Join or start a Move to Amend Affiliate in your area to perform the all important outreach and education necessary to movement building and participatory democracy,
  • Join the We the People Lobby campaign to educate and work with elected officials to gain support for the We the People Amendment,
  • Join a national committee and hone outreach, media, fundraising and other movement building and organizing skills.
Remember Cindy Lou Who? 

She was the first Who to sing out in Whoville. Be like Cindy Lou Who, please volunteer today!

In solidarity,
Kaitlin-Sopoci Belknap
National Director

P.S. Not sure how to best get involved? No problem! Just sign up here and we'll give you a call to talk it over!

 From Climate Hawks Vote:

Climate Hawks Vote

The U.S. Senate is poised to make this hot, dirty summer even worse. As fossil-fueled heat waves bring wildfires, drought, and killer storms to the nation, Donald Trump continues to stack his administration with fossil-fuel lobbyists and climate change deniers. Now our allies on Capitol Hill warn us that Mitch McConnell will try to pass a pro-fracking, pro-drilling, pro-coal energy bill next week to give Trump and the Kochs a much-needed victory.

Please email your senators today to say: Reject the dirty energy bill S. 1460!

The Energy and Natural Resources Act of 2017, authored by Republican Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Democrat Maria Cantwell of Washington, would greatly expand fracking and natural gas infrastructure when we need to be moving at full speed to 100% renewable energy for 100% of the people. The Senate has bypassed committee hearings to avoid public scrutiny — just as they’ve been doing with the failed attempts to kill Obamacare.

This bill would:

  • Expedite review of fracked gas export terminals, requiring a decision on such proposals within just 45 days of an environmental review. This will encourage more fracking, and create front-line sacrifice zones for the sake of overseas gas export and profit.
  • Make the pro-industry Federal Energy Regulatory Commission the lead decision maker in authorizing all new interstate fracked gas infrastructure projects.
  • Instruct the Bureau of Land Management to create a pilot program for expediting drilling and fracking permits.
  • Authorize the discovery, development and extraction of methane hydrate deposits in U.S. coastal waters.
  • Authorize $3 billion in “clean coal” subsidies for the coal industry.

On top of that, the "Renewables" section of the bill doesn't even mention solar or wind energy!

So far, not a single Democrat has come out against this frackers’ dream. For some reason, too many Senate Democrats still think they can be climate champions by compromising with Trump and with the laws of physics.

Only the intervention of impassioned and informed citizens can slow down this carbon catastrophe. We’ve teamed up with DailyKos on a tool that allows you to write a personalized letter directly to your Senators. These personal letters are an important way to show our members of Congress we are watching these critical votes and urging them to do the right thing.

Whether your senators are Democrats or Republicans, it’s important to contact them so they know that the American people will hold them accountable.

Your fellow climate hawk,
Brad Johnson


350+ Groups Oppose Dirty Senate Energy Bill that Would Promote Fossil Fuels, Pollute Air and Water, and Hasten Climate Chaos


  1. I was pleased and gratified to see so many people in the hall the other night, all concerned for the future of health care in the United States. The numbers have grown exponentially from the time we began to warn the country of what the GOP plans to do to them. The Senate vote to repeal the ACA without replacing it is due today, so call your representative and tell him to vote against the repeal. They answer to YOU.

    1. Thanks for the reminder, AJ. We've got the power--and they are listening to us. Perhaps our voices can drown out all the Big Pharma/Health Insurance lobbyists' millions in bribes after all? We've got to at least give it a try--for our children's future if not our own.


Please feel free to share your thoughts with us. Just one rule: Be polite. This means no profanity or cursing. No shaming or hate speech. No threats or silliness. This is a family friendly blog. Thank you.