Tonight is the local Congressional meeting on health care. Our congressman will not be there but our local state senators will be. The media has talked about the protesters. I have no problem with protesters as long as they allow everyone to talk and civilly debate the issues at hand. Debate is critical to solving a health care crisis that over 60% of all Americans believe exists. Just spend two days in a hospital and try to figure out the bill! It can be a struggle. Finding the right solution may be difficult. I sure don't know what the answer is. We may take two steps forward and one step back. Sometimes.... that's how progress works.

Well -- that's all the wishful thinking for the time-being. I will be at Fairmount Library in Davenport at 6pm. I just got a call that the New York Times is going to be there. In Iowa!!! And its not an election year!!!
For those of you unable to attend .... ok , you are thousands of miles away.... here is the text from my speech. Just picture the short gray-haired lady giving it!!!

I was born with a soap box. For years, I thought it was because I was short and I needed to see what was going on. Now I've seen what was going on and I know what the soap box was for.

My husband and I will celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary later this month. When we got married in 1999, our life together seemed secure and happy. We had good jobs, money in the bank and the future looked good.

Then in 2003, our life changed. In July, my husband was diagnosed with lung cancer. We were lucky that they found the lung cancer in stage 1-A. For lung cancer -- that is almost unbelievable. Surgery went well and life went on.

A month after surgery, my husband lost his job. We knew it was coming -- we had planned ahead and saved everything we could because we knew it may be a while before another job came around. We lived off the $200 a week unemployment insurance. We had to pay nearly $800 a month to cover my husband out of our savings.

I did not have insurance. We could not afford it.

Every month we paid the bill ....... then in Aug. 2004 --- a regular CTscan showed some un-explained lesions on the lung. First one lung ........ then both ........then there were more lesions. They thought the cancer had spread to stage 4. Immediately the drs were working, trying to see what these very small lesions were. Too small to biopsy -- they kept ordering CTscans and PETscans to determine what was happening.
Unfortunately, our COBRA insurance limited the number of CTscan a person could have -- and PETscans were considered "Experimental" We had no coverage for these scans. There was a $5000 bill.

And in October of 2004 -- as quickly as the lesions came -- they disappeared. Even the oncologist calls it a miracle.

We are still paying some of those bills but we survived.

In 2007 -- my husband had a heart attack. After two surgeries and cardiac rehab my husband is healthy and strong. Unfortunately, our bank account is not. Even with a good prescription drug benefit -- we spend $1200+ a year now on drugs. At one time it was almost $1700.

We have little bills and big bills. At one time we had 17 different medical bills. Its been two years since his heart attack --- we are still paying the bill.

I don't always know how we will pay these bills.

But I do know this.

I know our 32- year-old daughter was denied health insurance because she had been treated for psoriasis.

I know when the oncologist and the radiologist found a small aortic aneurysm this spring, my first thought was "How are we going to pay for that?" Not .... what are the consequences? What can we do? Where do we go? It was "How are we going to pay for that?"

I know that 6 years ago we had 9 months of living expenses in our savings. We had 10 weeks of paychecks in our checking account. We have roughly 2 weeks now ...... if I can convince my husband that a concentration-camp diet is sufficient.

I know my husband's income is 33% less than in August 2003 --- its 10% less than just 6 monthes ago.

I know that I don't own a cell phone. I don't have cable or satellite tv. My television is 19" and we own one. We don't have air conditioning and our newest car was built in the last century. And I know I can't afford them.

I know we have not been on vacation since 2002.

I know that 19.6% of our gross income goes to pay health insurance, medicine and yearly health costs. AND......... that does not even include eye exams and glasses nor does it include any dental expenses.

I know that just over 10% of our gross income goes to pay for our house payment, taxes and insurance.

And I know that something is wrong with this picture.

We struggle. But we are blessed. We are strong capable Iowans that will make our way. My husband repairs and re-builds everything from our 10 and 13 yr old cars to our 30 and 40 yr.old lawn mowers to our 115 yr old house.

We have a large garden. I can over 700 jars of produce in a year. I bake our bread daily. I raise chickens and sell eggs. And I teach what I know to help others learn. We will find a way.

We were conservative with our money. We are simple people with few needs and fewer wants. We tried to plan for the future. We just didn't know health care would take the future away.

I don't want a free ride on medical costs. But I don't want to be bankrupted because my husband had a heart attack.

So with soap box in hand, I will state my case. We have received excellent health care. From the doctors and nurses to the housekeeping staff to the accounting office........ we have been treated with care and respect. But I can't afford it anymore. And someone has got to speak out.

And I was born with a soap box.


corinne said…
You'll do great Miss Eff!
melanie said…
Awesome. (Er, the speech I mean, not the circumstances...)

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