Wednesday, March 17, 2010

End Game

Dear friends,

It's been a while since we've talked. You might not have noticed, but there haven't been too many emails from me since January, when Scott Brown won the Massachusetts Senate race, and the Democrats lost their filibuster-proof 60 seat majority.

Within a day, it seemed that everything all of us had worked towards in health care reform for the past year was gone, finally swept away in a partisan tide of Republican obstruction and teabagger furry. There was no direction from the White House. OFA had gone dark.

I stopped writing, because frankly I no idea what to do, and because a new and overwhelming priority had come into my life - the declining health of my elderly parents.

Mom and Dad had me pretty late in life, so I'm dealing with issues most of my peers won't have to deal with for another decade or more. Mom has late-stage emphysema and is on oxygen 24/7. Dad has diabetes, glaucoma, moderate dementia and had a heart attack last year. After being hospitalized for pneumonia this year, it was pretty clear he wasn't going to be able to take care of himself anymore - let alone Mom.

So I've been dealing with a bewildering number of doctors, nurses, physical therapists, home health care agencies, insurance providers and assisted living facilities trying to find the best and most appropriate care for my parents.

Despite all the stress and worry, I know in a lot of ways we're lucky. My parents were both public school teachers, so their insurance picks up the 20% Medicare doesn't cover. Every doctor visit, every hospitalization is covered. They were smart enough to get supplemental long term health care insurance, so even the home health care worker who stays with them 10 hours a day is mostly paid for.

So yes, we're lucky. Because we get to focus on what's best for their health and well-being, free from the worry that their health care needs will ruin them or their family financially.

In the end, that's all this fight about health care reform has been about. Not death panels, or socialism, or Obama's "waterloo". But about the simple dignity of being able to receive the health care we need to live, not just what we can afford.

This is our right. This is what we've been fighting for.

This weekend, if reports are to be believed, Congress will finally vote to make health care reform a reality. It's not the reform we had hoped and fought for, it is deeply flawed and we must work to improve it in the future, but it's all we can get out of our government right now.

I will be calling my reps in the House and in the Senate this week, and telling them vote for the bill. I ask you to do the same.

If you don't know who your reps are, or how to contact them, go to this link to find out.

Make the call. Do it because no journey can start without taking the first step.

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