Using writing, and meditation, and ice cream, and reading, and dreams,

and a whole lot of other tools to rediscover who I am,

after six years living with a man with OCPD.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

NASCAR, Mental Illness, Women, & the Affordable Care Act

Contrary to popular stereotype, people who love NASCAR aren't inbred, big-bellied, red-necked hicks, but come from every walk of life.  I know plenty of smart, funny, well-educated people who follow Jimmie Johnson, Ryan Newman, Jeff Gordon and other drivers.  I've watched plenty of NASCAR races myself, and have even attended a NASCAR race, where I happily sat on Junior (okay, I sat on a Dale Earnhardt Junior cushion.  Never mind what my fantasies were.)

[Disclaimer:  This particular post is going to go a bit political, which is something I normally try to avoid here.   However, I strongly feel that taking care of those in our society who are vulnerable - children, pregnant women, the mentally ill and disabled, the elderly, and those who care for and love all of the above - is an important issue, related to my main blog subject.  Skip reading any further if you don't want to hear how that relates, IMO, to a currently controversial subject, the Affordable Care Act.]

Sorry, turned a bit left there (but then, if you know NASCAR, you know that it's all about turning left.)  Right now when everybody is being asked to sacrifice, where teachers are being told to suck it up and do more for less, when CEO's and those sitting on fat trust funds aren't asked to sacrifice at all, when many in Congress are complaining that we can't afford the Affordable Care Act, when mental health services are being slashed all over the country, because of costs, it seems wrong that one of the sacred cows, whose Budget Cannot Be Touched, is NASCAR.  With an annual price tag of 7 million dollars, plus two-three million more or so tossed in, but who's counting?

I'm not saying there aren't good reasons for the Army to sponsor NASCAR - there are.  I actually agree with the Pentagon's logic, that it makes more sense to advertise for Army recruits through NASCAR sponsorship than, say, at chess tournaments.  However, there used to be some perks attached to men earning more money and having ultimate power over women's lives.  If your ship hit an iceberg, men generally hung back and let the women and children board the lifeboats first.

Nowdays - no more perks for you, ha ha, you silly women who wanted equality!  We'll pretend to give it to you, but you'll still earn less than a man does for the same job skillset and experience, and you can get to the back of the line for the lifeboats, too!  If there are cuts to be made in funding, we won't apply them to everyone universally, just to the stuff that's less important (to men.) 
Here's one thing that I didn't realize. "Before the law was enacted, a 22-year-old woman could pay 150 percent more than a 22-year-old man for the exact same health insurance. Yet her coverage often failed to meet her needs. Thanks to the law, in 2014 it will be illegal to charge women extra for health insurance." From Dr. Carrie's Better Living
Now, you might read that and think, yes, but women get pregnant, and men don't, so it's only fair for women to be charged more.  Then I did some digging.  What "failed to meet her needs" means is, women were often offered plans that did not cover birth control, pregnancy, or childbirth, at all - and still had to pay more than men!  The little pink pill was not covered (birth control), but the oval blue pill (Viagra) was.  How fair (or smart) is that?

Original Photo via spaceodissey via Flickr

Have you ever been pregnant; perhaps had a miscarriage, or C-section?  Sorry, some insurers consider that a pre-existing condition

Did you ever experience or report domestic violence?   Good for you that you escaped, bad for you that you dared to report it.  But even if you didn't officially report it to the police, too many visits to the ER for "falling down the stairs" and you're high risk and could be denied health insurance in 8 states and Washington, DC.

Of course, mental illness is also a pre-existing condition.  For which, under ACA, insurance companies can no longer deny coverage.  This is huge improvement, if not a step far enough.

Used to be,  if you had a child born with a health problem, or diagnosed later with autism or a mental illness, heaven help you, because that's about all who would.  If you were even able to get health insurance coverage for the child, under the parents' health plan, when s/he turned 18, goodbye coverage, never mind if s/he was stable enough to attend college or get a job.
What the Affordable Care Act does, is level the playing field somewhat.  It makes the insurance companies play fairer (as long as they are based on "the bottom line" and turning a quarterly profit, insurance companies will continue to be more focused on cutting costs and denying services than on playing fair with their rate-payers.)  The ACA gives women, children, and men, too, a better chance at a healthier life, with expanded coverage for preventative care and vaccinations.  This saves every American taxpayer money, because healthier, insured people don't use the emergency room as their sole medical care, leaving the bill for somebody else to pay.

From Texas' Comptroller's Office

Does the ACA "stick it" to small businesses or cause a loss of jobs?  No, it actually offers small businesses a tax credit for insuring their employees, and claims that it will result in lost jobs are rated totally false by PolitiFact.

How about the idea that the ACA increases the deficit - which the US really can't afford?  Not so in the long-term, says the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office.  Much like repairing a roof before existing leaks cause major structural damage, the costs are significant up-front, but in the long run, save much more money than allowing the roof to fall in and having to rebuild roof, support beams, and walls.

Civilized societies find a way to take care of their weaker members: pregnant women, children, the elderly, the disabled, the mentally ill.  They support those who are thrust into a family caregiving role: taking care of Grandpa who has Alzheimer's, or an autistic child, or a soldier home from war with brain injuries or PTSD.  (Caregivers being usually, but not always, women.)  That the United States, wealthy as it is, can allow those living off inherited wealth, and large corporations to avoid taxes (legally, if not morally,) while we are told "but we can't afford to insure all Americans," and the middle class gets squeezed almost out of existence is obscene, IMO. 

There's a joke that goes, a corporate CEO, a union worker, and a Tea-Bagger are seated at a table.  In the middle of the table is a plate holding a dozen cookies.
There may actually be more than a dozen cookies here.

The CEO immediately grabs 11 of the cookies.  "Watch out," he says to the Tea-Bagger,  "That greedy union guy wants a piece of your cookie."

As Americans, we need to be standing together against greed and for fairness, and not be tricked by those who are hogging all the cookies, into squabbling over the crumbs.

But, some wail, most of the people for voted for ACA didn't even read the whole thing!  True.  (That's also true those of are calling for its repeal.)  

I have on my bookshelf two big fat tomes: Webster's Dictionary, and Roget's Thesaurus.  Must I read and analyze every single word before I decide if they're a helpful resource or not?  Or, can I decide based on spot-checks and professional reviews by non-biased sources?  If one takes the position that a Congress Rep can only vote for a bill that s/he has read in its entirety, the logical counterpoint is that a Rep can only vote against or move to repeal a bill that s/he has read in its entirety.  (Think that's gonna happen anytime soon?)

Is the Affordable Care Act perfect?  Hell, no!  Lots of places it needs to be tweaked, fixed, and adjusted - just like every other major piece of legislation that has ever been passed in America.  The idea that we can only have a good law if it's "perfect" and if everyone agrees on it, right from the start... that's really an OCPD-think, black-or-white argument. 

Somebody with OCPD will want to trash something out of general principal (aka Demand Resistance,) simply because s/he didn't have control over the process.  They'd rather do nothing, than take action to repair the roof that all agreed was leaking, if it can't be done all at once, perfectly.  And really, who can agree on how to fix the roof, when there are so many companies to get bids from, so many colors to choose for roofing materials, but if we choose, say, burnt sienna as the roofing color, will we still be able to get replacement tiles 15 years from now?  Or maybe we shouldn't get tiles at all, maybe we should get a slate roof, let's throw out all the bids and start the process all over again from the beginning...

Enough!  The roof was leaking, and it's been repaired.   Only a total idiot would rip off a roof and expose their house to the elements without having something better to immediately hammer into place.

The ACA is better - not perfect - but better - for working families and their children, than what we had before.  It's more fair to women than the previous free market free-for-all (which was free for nobody.)  It offers more protection and help to those with mental illness and disabilityEnough help?  No, but more than there had been.  We can (and should) work together to improve it, but enough of the babble about repeal.

And to those whining about the costs?  Sorry, you got drowned out by Ryan Newman revving his engine, I couldn't hear you.

Comments respectful in tone and language will be welcomed, 
along with any factual links.
Trolls will be sent back to their bridges.