The Year of Moving Forward

The Year of Moving Forward
At our 4 person wedding reception in DC

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Happy Independence Day

Number one and most important: the Bessemer Fireworks Show is on! Roosevelt Park on 14th Street (Highway 150) at 9:00, but come early and enjoy free watermelon provided by Bessemer Opinions! At 7:30 or so.

I have known for days what I wanted to put on this site on Independence Day, and then I had to go and see Sicko yesterday, and it all changed. What I was going to say about patriotism has to be modified after seeing that movie. This is coming from me, not as a liberal, or a democrat (I’m not registered with any party) but as someone who is concerned about health care costs and insurance costs, and from someone who pays a bundle for what is so far the best medical coverage someone could ask for. Also someone who has two children who are going to have to deal with escalating health care costs a lot longer than I will.

That being said, it is embarrassing to be in the most developed country in the world, and have a worse infant mortality rate than El Salvador. To have a health care system ranked 37 in the world, just above Slovenia. To have greater life expectancies in Canada, Britain, France and Cuba, the counties that Michael Moore visited, than in the U.S. To learn by listening to Americans in those countries that the inferior care and extended wait times for care that we have heard about for years just is not true.

As a former (veterinary) care provider I have certain ideas about certain words and phrases, and to me the term “medical loss” brings up an image of a dead patient, someone who has died from a medical condition, as opposed to a surgical loss, someone who died during a surgery. But in this movie I learned that in the insurance industry, a medical loss is the term thrown out when an insurance company has to pay a claim. In cases where the company could not find reason to deny a claim, or deny a procedure, they call this a loss, a medical loss. The movie shows how they are fighting at every opportunity, and if the opportunity is not there, they create one, to deny approving a procedure or to deny paying a claim, such as revoking a policy retroactively after a costly claim was submitted because the patient had not reported a previous yeast infection (totally unrelated to the current procedure) years before.

Anyway, back to patriotism. The movie told how in Great Britain, immediately after world war two, that citizens of England began to realize that if they could find money to kill people (as in war) then they should be able to find money to help people. So they developed the National Health Service. During the same period to the present we began developing the most expensive health care system in the world. But not the best, remember, we are ranked number 37.

If we are truly being patriotic, shouldn’t we be proud of our country. But how can we be proud when our system allows mentally ill patients who can not pay to be transported from the hospital in a taxi wearing a hospital gown and dumped in front of a shelter with hope she can find her way inside? How can we be proud when the system allows a patient with cancer to die without treatment while the hospital board (where the patient’s wife works) controls the insurance and determines who gets treated and who does not? How can we be proud when 9-11 rescue workers can not receive health care in this country, the country that is providing free, state of the art health care to Gitmo prisoners, but in Cuba these same rescue workers receive free care and affordable medicine and are treated as heroes for their service rather than being left behind as they were in New York by a system that does not provide for them?

True patriotism would look at our system, then look at the systems that work in other countries, and adapt from these systems policies and procedures that would provide universal coverage. That would be good for the U. S.

True patriotism would value the life and health of every American, regardless of their social status or ability to pay. That would be good for our citizens.

True patriotism would involve not criticizing other countries whose system happens to be better than ours, but learning from the success of others.

True patriotism would have us quickly develop a system with true regard for what is best for the citizens of the country and less regard for the industries; medicine, pharmaceutical and insurance that currently control healthcare.

This is a non-partisan issue for our country, and the blame is easily spread among the congress, the lobbyists, the present and former administrations, the medical profession and the insurance profession and the drug (legal) industry.

One more thing. We got to the theater about 10 minutes early and there were already several people sitting. 10 were older than us (seniors), and 5 were younger than us. Is this because seniors are getting screwed more than others? While we waited I would say more older moviegoers came in than younger.

You have seen my flag collection before. I have added two new ones, the first of which is a civil war era flag. Interestingly, the flag changed several times during the civil war, as states continued to be added in spite of the conflict. Also note that of course no stars were removed to honor the secession of the confederate states.

The civil war era flag is behind the other historic flag in this picture. It is the one that flew during WWII, and I wanted it because my father fought in that war, both in Europe and in the Pacific. That flag has 48 stars, before Alaska was added in 1959 and Hawaii in 1960.

One other flag I am thinking of adding is the flag with 23 stars that flew for two years after Alabama and Maine were added, from 1820 to 1822.

An interesting fact for this Fourth of July holiday is that since 1818, whenever flags were modified by adding stars, the new flag has always been flown beginning on July 4th of the year it is introduced. Also, designs for up to 56 stars, which would represent 6 new states, are already in place. (Don't tell president Bush, he'll pick some more countries to invade).

This was not purposeful, but these flags represent periods during which we were at war, and we made it through those often dark times, and that realization gives me encouragement that we can make it through this time, what with the war, the attacks by the administration on our constitution, the hateful anti-immigration rhetoric that I hear. And when dissent and opposition is categorized as unpatriotic, I wonder what they understand about our Bill of Rights and our history.

Remember the other day I said to be patriotic and fly your Stars and Stripes but to also fly a rainbow flag? In this past Sunday’s Parade Magazine there was an article titled “Time for a Family Reunion!” which, in the paper edition (not online), has a photo of the author’s husband’s family reunion which is held every Fourth of July. With an American flag draped behind them, a few dozen patriotic picnickers wearing flag bandanas and Uncle Sam hats are also backed by a rainbow flag, indicating the inclusive family pictured. Thank you Parade Magazine and thank you Lynn Schnumberger. Happy 4th of July!!!

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