Sunday, March 18, 2012

Let me explain.

     I have recently been accused of being anti-male, because of some posts on Facebook that drew attention to bills being discussed and voted on in the US Senate and many states. Let me first state that I have no bias toward men. I raised one that I am extremely proud of. I do have a bias toward the treatment of women. That does not make me anti-male. If I am anti-anything, it is a government dictating what should be a doctor’s decision, not a legislative one.
     There is so much going on right now that I will narrow this discussion to the Blount Amendment. This amendment will give employers the ability to decide what will and will not be covered by an employee’s insurance. A poster (full disclosure; he was male) stated that insurance coverage was not a “right.” Okay, for the sake of argument, I’ll buy that. He was correct. Nowhere in the Constitution am I guaranteed the right to insurance or health care, but I am guaranteed equal protection under the law.
     I responded rather emotionally to the man’s post on my page. I regret that, but this is an emotional issue for me. I’m going to address a few of the issues I have with the Blount Amendment and other bills being passed in the states. First, there is a bill that would require a woman to tell her employer why she is on birth control pills. Under the HEPA law, no one has a right to know why you see a doctor, without your consent. How can they pass a bill that violates a federal law? Second, as Senator Bernie Sanders said in his opposition speech on the Senate floor, the Blount Amendment would make it possible for an employer to deny coverage based on “religious beliefs and moral convictions” for well-woman visits, mammograms, birth control, and anything he/she doesn't want to cover. (Please keep in mind that birth control pills are used to treat other ailments, and are not solely used as a contraceptive.) If this is so expensive an employer cannot afford the coverage, then why did my insurance company send me a coupon every year to have tests run. You see, the insurance company knows it is far more expensive in the long run to ignore the tests and treat the disease after it has taken hold, rather than prevent it or catch it early enough to avoid expensive long term care.
     The poster stated that I could still see my doctor and pay for the tests without insurance coverage. He also stated there were other ways to have the tests run and places to get birth control at low costs. Many of these outlets are under attack as well and bills are being submitted to end these programs. I love it when people with insurance and a comfortable existence speak for the masses. (A recent study showed a person in the northeast must work over 120 hours a week at minimum wage just to pay rent.) I would like to point out that without insurance coverage for these tests, they are much too expensive for the single mother who can barely make the rent and keep food on the table. (There are lots of reasons women are raising children alone, so let's not get into a debate about single mothers.) She makes too much money for help from welfare, but barely enough to keep a roof over their heads. What happens to her children when she dies from cancer, because she couldn’t afford a simple mammogram? If the children become wards of the state, who pays then? Those are real choices for real families. Feed the kids or have a mammogram? The kids get fed, as they should, but she shouldn’t have to make that choice.
     Suppose this woman goes years without a well-woman visit to the doctor. The poster stated he shouldn’t have to pay for something that did not relate to him personally. Well, if this woman scrapes together the money, goes to the doctor, and is found to have cancer for example, her doctor will say, “If we had caught it sooner, it would be a simple procedure.” Now, the woman goes to the hospital. They schedule surgery, radiation, and chemo. Guess who is going to pay for that expensive treatment. If she can’t, the government will pay the bill and she will be hounded to her grave for the money. In this scenario, the poster is most definitely paying more than he would have, had the woman undergone regular screening. If she had insurance that did not cover the testing but covers her treatment, I guess that’s okay with the poster. Get really sick first and then we’ll cover you. The employer loses the employee for long periods of time during the treatment. What’s more expensive, a simple well check or cancer treatments and lost employee work hours?
     I lived that scenario. My wife developed cancer in between full time jobs. (At the time, she was working two jobs, neither of which offered insurance.) It took us ten years, but we finally paid off the hospital and doctors. It was not our choice to be without insurance; it was just the circumstances we found ourselves in. We both have always worked. Our son had insurance, food, shelter, and clothing. Our medical problems took a back burner to his needs. She now goes for a mammogram religiously and her insurance company happily pays for the visits. Again, they see prevention and early screening as cost cutting, not costly.
     The Blount Amendment is not just a danger to women’s health. What happens when the employer decides colon and prostate cancer screening isn’t necessary? Will that change this man’s opinion? What if he suddenly found himself without a job, his family income cut in half? His wife’s employer says no to cancer screening and well-woman visits. She gets sick because they can’t afford to pay for those tests anymore. Who pays then? Will I be paying through my tax dollars to save his wife’s life? I don’t mind. In fact, I’m glad my tax dollars can save lives, but I’d rather pay for preventative care than treatment. I’d also rather save lives with my tax money than pay for a Senator’s top of the line insurance, inflated salary, and outlandish pension.
     It may not appear to be this poster’s problem that insurance coverage will be denied based on “religious beliefs and moral convictions,” as stated in the Blount Amendment. He may not see that down the road his own healthcare and that of his family could be compromised. Employers playing doctor is a no win for everybody, male and female. The poster was correct, insurance coverage is not a right. What is a right, is not to work for someone who would deny you essential healthcare coverage. If this bill passes, I would hope that each potential employee would ask what is covered and what is not, before signing that contract. Having your insurance coverage dictated by someone’s religious beliefs and moral convictions harkens back to the Stone Age. People who have never faced the reality of feed the kids or have a mammogram are the ones writing these bills.
     I’m not fighting this bill just for me. I’m fighting for my son and his wife, my potential grandchildren, my friends, and you. I am not anti-male. I am a woman concerned about a government that seems to have lost sight of one important part of the Constitution: The establishment clause is the First Amendment provision that prohibits the federal and state governments from establishing an official religion, or from favoring or disfavoring one view of religion over another. I am also concerned that people, male and female, don’t see the ramifications of such a bill. I have a feeling there is a lot of "Why should I care?" going on out there. I’m reminded of the old quote from WWII:
First they came  for the communists, 
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, 
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, 
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew.
Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me.
     I for one do not want to be that person who didn’t see it coming. Don’t take my word for it. Read the bills being presented around the country. If you don’t see a problem with them, then let them pass. Don’t worry Mr. Poster, when they come for something that does matter to you, I won’t remain silent - if there is anyone left to listen.

3 comments:

  1. So very well said, Decky. The legislation that is being introduced and passed around the country is very scary right now.

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  2. Excellent post and I agree... It seems the legislation in this country is getting extreem and off the map for the protection of the normal citizinry... the poster is a firend of mine and he is self employed, his wife is a college professor here in our little town. Both very lovely people and he and I have a go at the debate every now and then too. However Decky you have explained this issue so well I have a clearer understanding of what is at stake. What would we do if people like you didn't watch this and urge us to stand up? Thanks for the excellent explaination.... Shows me why you are the writer and I am the reader. ;-)

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  3. Well said. Here's hoping all women take action - sign petitions, write congress, and vote!

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