Robert Reich, the ACA and my plan for health care in the USA

I wasn’t planning on posting so quickly again but this post from Robert Reich was on my newsfeed and it was on the very topic a friend and I had last night. I was going to post on FB and decided not to enter that fray.

Here’s what Secretary Reich (former secretary) wrote on his FB news feed:

“For those of us who have been arguing for years that the best way to provide comprehensive health insurance to Americans would be to graft it onto Social Security and Medicare, and pay for it through the payroll tax, Republican opposition to the Affordable Care Act has been deeply ironic. Republicans were the ones who initially demanded it be based instead on private insurance, and be paid for with a combination of subsidies for low-income purchasers and a requirement that the younger and healthier sign up. A Republican President (Richard Nixon) came close to enacting such a plan. A Republican think tank provided the details. A Republican governor (Mitt Romney) did a trial run (in Massachusetts). Yet now that the essential Republican plan for comprehensive health insurance is being implemented nationally, Republicans are apoplectic. Had Democrats stuck to the original Democratic vision and built it on Social Security and Medicare, it would have been cheaper, simpler, and more widely accepted by the public. Maybe, someday, we’ll get there.”

My thoughts on this for those that were not part of the conversation — have minimal wellness and catastrophic care for everyone — tied to taxes or Medicare or Social Security. Then for those that want greater health care coverage, go ahead, purchase health insurance on the open market. “Buy” a “cut the line” for an earlier appointment or an appointment with a doctor not in your plan. Anyone with Medicare can do this right now.

People are complaining they can’t afford health care under the ACA. If there was basic health care for all built in, then there wouldn’t need to be this situation of mandated insurance. Because the answer to not requiring everyone to have insurance is to provide health care regardless. Then, when you go to the hospital you have care and you aren’t leaving the provider with a bill you are not paying (and as taxpayers we pick up that bill for sure).

Otherwise, we have the scenario I brought up to my friend last night — you show up to the hospital and you’re having a heart attack. No money to pay? No insurance? Go home and die. That is not, in my view, acceptable in the USA. But that’s what we have right now. If we don’t have some accountability and require people to either have coverage or private pay, we continue to have these astronomical health care costs (my premiums rise 10-15% every year and I’m self-employed so yes, I pay every last dime).

Why I Blog — a commentary by Maria Rodale

Why I Blog — a commentary by Maria Rodale

On her blog Maria Rodale writes about why she blogs. If you don’t know who Maria Rodale is, perhaps you’ve heard of Rodale Press or Prevention Magazine, companies her father started. This is certainly why I blogged all those years ago and why I started to do it again. Please share my blog with others. While I have set it to a moderated site, that’s only to keep the trolls away. All other comments and reviews welcome.

I’ll be back with some original commentary soon. It’s been rather busy at the office and I’m completing my annual continuing education as well (because courses I took for one state weren’t accepted in another — bah!)

Are You OK?

What is it about our propensity to ask someone “are you ok?” when they’ve just had something bad happen to them?  You know what I mean.  Their parent just died and we call or write or text and ask “are you ok?”. Same when they’ve lost a job, get divorced, get a cancer diagnosis or break up with a love. 

“Are you ok?”

Am I ok?
What am I supposed to say in reply?
“Well, I haven’t killed myself! ”
“I’m depressed as hell but me and Ben and Jerry are having a threesome?”

Really, why is that what we say? Can’t we do better? It’s a preposterous question.

I do it myself and it’s so inadequate.

I know it’s an expression of concern, but how else can we express it that doesn’t sound so well, asinine?

Maybe just say “hey, been thinking about you, can I help?” Is that better?

I don’t really know. I just know I’m going to try to do better than “are you ok?” My friends deserve better.

Strength or Resilience?

You know, this would have been a much better post if I had a tape recorder in the shower with me this morning. I had such wonderful thoughts. Instead, we are stuck with my glimmers of remembrance of what I was thinking at the time.

While traveling through my own dark thoughts, what I think of as my own Dark Night of the Soul (see original poem by St. John of the Cross http://www.amazon.com/Dark-Night-Dover-Thrift-Editions/dp/0486426939 and the book by Thomas Moore http://www.amazon.com/Dark-Nights-Soul-Finding-Through/dp/1592401333), I am realizing how very resilient I am. I have always questioned my strength, but really do I want to be strong, an unbending, unyielding steel girder, or do I want to be resilient, a willow that bends in the wind.

I’m learning to vote for the willow.

The other day I posted a video by Garbage called “Only Happy When it Rains” but the truth is, I’m rarely happy when it rains. I don’t like the dark and dank dreariness when it rains. I appreciate the rain. I know it waters my yard and makes the flowers and the vegetables grow. It keeps the threat of fire down. It even gives us the water we drink. I’m happy for that but I don’t like the grayness of the day or how the dampness creeps into my now 52 year old joints.

What most resonates with me with “Only Happy When it Rains” when I’m having a tough time is the line “I’m riding high upon a deep depression” because at that moment I am. Unlike the remaining lyrics however, I do not enjoy it. I do however, learn from it.

I allow my Dark Night of the Soul. Yeah, yeah a weird phrase for a Jew that is not Messianic in any way, shape or form to use considering its original meaning within Christian philosophy but I see it in much broader terms of feeling. Eckhart Tolle sums up a good deal of how I see the meaning in this phrase (http://www.eckharttolle.com/newsletter/october-2011). He says “It is a term used to describe what one could call a collapse of a perceived meaning in life…an eruption into your life of a deep sense of meaninglessness.  The inner state in some cases is very close to what is conventionally called depression.  Nothing makes sense anymore, there’s no purpose to anything.” Then he says that eventually, “It’s a kind of re-birth.  The dark night of the soul is a kind of death that you die.  What dies is the egoic sense of self.  Of course, death is always painful, but nothing real has actually died there – only an illusory identity.  Now it is probably the case that some people who’ve gone through this transformation realized that they had to go through that, in order to bring about a spiritual awakening.  Often it is part of the awakening process, the death of the old self and the birth of the true self.”

I am so grateful that these periods of darkness seem to have less and less hold over me. Usually, they are brought about by some deep-seated fear that I have yet to fully deal with. I have one in particular that haunts me periodically and every single time the emotional me takes over the rational me. I go through this “dark night” and always come out more resilient than before. Thank God.

The roller coaster that is the time leading up to that “awakening” is frankly, horrible. What is good though is my ability to weather the storm and to do those things to bring about the awakening at a much quicker pace. I try to eat well, get sleep, exercise. I don’t always succeed 100% but I keep at it. I have even learned to lean on a few friends. This has been so difficult. I still don’t like to cry in front of anyone, for any reason. I have a few people that have been so caring and I am so immensely grateful.

I’m not only happy when it rains. I’m happy when the sun shines. I am resilient enough to know that the sun will shine again. I will weather the storm. I will be a still better person at the end of this period and my next dark night of the soul will be even less problematic than the last.

Why I wear a watch

WELCOME TO MY INAUGURAL POST AS A BLOGGER IN THIS DECADE! Yes, I used to blog — a dozen years ago, when it was considered weird. Then I stopped. Years later I started posting on Facebook (hereafter FB). A few weeks ago I started writing again and decided to blog again. I’m going to be uneven — I may not post for a while and then post in a flurry. Hey! It’s my blog!

So I thought I would start with something I wrote about why I started wearing a watch again after a brief hiatus. 

One day a friend told me that she knew I was of another generation because I wore a watch. Over time I stopped wearing my watch with regularity opting to be like my younger, dare I say “hipper” friends. I would instead rely on my phone. 

But I saw a problems arising.

To my mind it was incredibly rude to look at my phone in the middle of meetings, although everyone else seemed to do it. I certainly knew my clients, often older than me, would dislike it. So I wore my watch when I had clients and didn’t when my calendar showed a “paperwork” day. 

Sometimes while wearing my watch I realized how much I missed wearing it on my left wrist. It was comfortable on my arm. Not to mention, it is a pretty watch; it is jewelry.

Then one recent morning it occurred to me that there was something more important about wearing a watch than separating myself from my younger peers or wearing a lovely piece of arm candy.

My watch actually did more than tell time. It gave me back time.  

When you wear a watch and want to know what time it is, you flick your wrist and look at the watch face. You instantly know what time it is and then go about your business. When I have to look at my phone, I find myself scanning for other things. “Oh I have email,” and then I have to look at the email and reply to them — NOW. I see I have FB messages and then I have to look at FB and see what was said. If I have a game challenge “Jane challenged me on Ruzzle,” or “John asked me for a life on Candy Crush,” next thing you know I’m playing the game. 

Before I know it, at least a half hour has gone by and I’ve accomplished nothing. Multiply this by more than a few times a day and I’ve wasted HOURS of my day.

So that’s why I strapped my watch on the very morning of my revelation. It was a Sunday and all I had to do was some cleaning and some laundry. Both of those chores got done and I read half a book. Outdoors. In the sunshine.

Did I  “play” on my phone? Sure I did. I even wrote this blog post with my nifty S-pen directly onto the phone in long-hand. Smart phones aren’t evil. They just have their place and a job as a watch is not, in my opinion, one of them.