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Archive for September, 2009

GIVE A SISTA A HEALTH CARE BREAK!

Monday, September 21st, 2009

Michelle Obama got it right this past week.  She paused for a moment  to advocate for health care reform for women.  Women make up a disproportionate number of those who are without health care insurance. Many are the primary breadwinner, sole breadwinner, work part time and work in jobs with no health benefits.  Employer paid health insurance is quite different than buying coverage on the open market.   On the open market, it’s outright war.  Many legal obstacles exist for women in securing non-employer paid insurance. Plus, there’s a bias against women in the health care insurance industry.  The insurance gods deliberately make it difficult for many women to obtain insurance.

It is legal in nine states and the District of Columbia for insurance companies to reject applicants for health coverage in areas related to women.  Victims of domestic abuse can be denied coverage. Pregnant applicants can be denied coverage due to what they call a pre-existing condition.  Yet, even a past C-section is a reason for denial.  Even if not already pregnant, many private insurers will not insure for maternity.  In some instances, women can obtain a “rider” for maternity coverage. This means she can pay additional fees on top of the already high fees to include maternity coverage.  So many women go without maternity coverage. Kuwait, Canada and 31 other countries have lower maternity mortality rates than the U.S. according to the World Health Organization.  Yes, it’s sad but true.

Studies show between 1999-2008, health insurance premiums increased by a whopping 119 percent.  I don’t know of anyone whose salary increased by anywhere near that much.  And then there’s the issue of gender bias in charging for premiums.  Gender bias means insurance companies often charge women anywhere from 4% to 48% more than men  for identical health plans. Does that seem fair to anyone? Yet, only ten states have outlawed gender bias in premium charging. Toppled with the fact that women earn only 78 cents for every dollar earned by a man further complicates this issue.

Women make up over 50% of this country. Yet, somehow many are denied the fundamentals of basic health insurance. What is wrong with this picture?  We should be yelling from the rafters and everywhere to support President Obama’s public health care reform.  If we do not, we have only ourselves to blame if it fails.  We are now the New Moral Majority.  It is morally right that women should not be denied health care due to pregnancy, past C-section, domestic abuse or overcharged due to their sex.  There should be a united front between our insured and our ininsured sisters. This is a fight that should unite us and not divide us.

I urge everyone to take action for health care reform. Overall 46 million Americans lacked health insurance in 2008.  A recent Harvard study shows Americans are more likely to die due to lack of health insurance and its ramifications than drunk driving and homicide rates combined.

Let’s fight for what’s right.  Give a Sista a health care break!

YOU LIE, YOU’RE FIRED!

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009

Imagine if during the annual meeting of a major corporation, a senior executive shouted “you lie” to the CEO while he was speaking.  Imagine if your co-worker or supervisor shouted the same words to your boss during a meeting.  What about if a nun shouted “you lie” to the Priest during communion service.  Imagine if a deacon said “you lie” to the Pastor while he was preaching. Would anyone ever say those words to a Rabbi speaking during high holy services? We all find these examples to be outrageous, offensive, disruptive, disrespectful and deliberate. Let’s put them in the context of Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) shouting “you lie” during President Obama’s speech before the joint session of Congress. Why isn’t everyone outraged at these antics? His repugnant act goes beyond bad manners. And no, I don’t buy for one minute that he accidentally blurted out those words.

Everyone regardless of race, age, sex or party affiliation should be outraged at the outlandish act of Rep. Wilson (R-S.C.). The fact that some are not concerned shows a deeper problem. Some probably delight in his antics.  His acts go much deeper than disrespect for our United States President and Commander In Chief.  They underscore a deep history of racism in this country.  Racism by any other name is still the same. Racism is inherent in everything in this country. We cannot escape our history. President Obama and some might like to believe we’re post racial. Incidents like these should tell them otherwise.  Our fear of addressing it will only prolong it. Unfortunately, racism is long from being over in this country. Just like sexism, classism and others, racism is still alive and well.

We have first amendment rights to free speech to express our opinions.  Nonetheless, there is a time and place for everything.  During President Obama’s speech before the Joint Session of Congress was neither the time nor the place for Rep. Wilson (R-S.C.) to express his freedom of speech. A resolution should be passed with appropriate sanctions for his behavior.  If you act like children, you need to be treated and punished accordingly.

So I hope in the future, the  citizens of South Carolina will say to Rep Joe Wilson (R-S.C.), “you lie, you’re fired”.

Mr. President Please Put Patient Safety First

Friday, September 11th, 2009

  

Shakespeare once said let’s kill all the lawyers. Many people still think that trial lawyers are the root of all our problems.  Trial lawyers are blamed for causing doctors to go out of business due to sky high medical insurance premiums and costs. Of course, it’s the trial lawyers who sue when patients have been catastrophically injured or died by the hands of doctors.  And the argument is these trials, lawyers and judgments drive doctors out of business.  Letting “bad” doctors or negligent doctors and hospitals off the hook is not the answer either. There must be a balance between patient safety and the costs of doctors able to practice medicine. 

 

But in reality lawyers and doctors have more in common than one might think.  If either group could look beyond their own faces, they would see the enemy. We are not causing the problem. The real culprits are not doctors nor lawyers in causing the medical crisis problems.  The real culprits are the insurance companies.  Running a close second are the pharmaceutical companies.  No government agency is regulating either of them.

 

Mr. President while you’re looking at tort reform as a remedy, please take a much closer look at the insurance industry.  They seem to be getting a complete pass. Until we truly fix what’s broken, things will continue to break.  The trial lawyers and doctors should not be fighting each other over tort reform. Instead, they should be aligning forces to fight for regulation of the yet unregulated insurance industry.   It is the insurance industry that pays doctors sometimes less than 50% of what they are owed on patient’s bills. How many of us could survive if our employer paid us less than 50% of what we are due and owed? It is the insurance industry that refuses to settle legitimate medical malpractice claims early on. This leaves litigation as the only option to an aggrieved patient.

 

The pharmaceutical industry is right behind the insurance companies. They might as well be unregulated.  The FDA would rather regulate advertising claims  than protect persons from deaths due to Vioxx, diet pills and countless other drugs.  So Mr. President, you might also consider putting some teeth to the FDA regulation to protect patient safety.

 

Mr. President, I agree we should put patient safety first and let doctors focus on practicing medicine. The way to do that is to regulate the yet unregulated insurance industry.