Category Archives: health care reform

When will massacres matter enough to cause change?

“These neighborhoods are our neighborhoods and these children are our children.” President Obama in statement made following the recent Sandy Hook Elementary School Massacre killing 20 children and 6 adults in the school.

Where do Americans stand on gun laws? Gun control?

In a pew poll taken after the assassination attempt on Congresswomen Gabriella “Gabby” Giffords, the country was divided. 49% said it was “more important to protect the rights of Americans to own guns” and 46% said it was “more important to control gun ownership.”

After the shooting in the movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, 76% said, “There should be some restriction on owning guns,” according to a CNN/ORC poll.

At present time, roughly half of American states allow gun owners to carry their weapon openly into public places.

Also, making more news recently is the “Stand Your Ground” law. This law really came into the public eye during the Trayvon Martin case in Florida.

There are a host of other states with very similar laws.

Florida, as well as others in this list do not have a “duty to retreat” clause which means if you can get away without harm or deadly force but shoot anyway, you can be prosecuted. Most of the states with the “Stand Your Ground” law do not have the “duty to retreat” clause. Many of these laws are written in a vague way leaving the law to be used as a “blanket way out” for many shootings.

These laws were often introduced as a way to help “victims” in cases such as domestic violence where victims often felt blocked and unable to flee or ended up shooting their attackers (which happened to be their domestic partner) and found it near impossible to defend themselves in court. When was it okay to kill someone under your own roof?

But, the law has left it open for arguments leading escalating, turning into assaults and then murder to be defended under the “Stand Your Ground” law. What would have been different if a person hadn’t had a firearm on them? What if they didn’t feel it was okay to cry “self-defense” in what would typically end up in an assault and battery case but instead, someone is dead. Has the law been a positive or a negative? Who has it actually helped more?

Guns and politics have become so entwined as the NRA has become more involved through the years with politics, legislation and politicians.

The NRA runs ads campaigning for those who promote their cause and against those standing in the way of their proposed changes in existing laws or future goals.

By funding politicians, their campaigns and having their own people in Washington, the NRA is assured of having a way to get current policies changed or new legislation passed, changed or set aside. The problem is much of this happens without knowledge of the general public both through state government and federal government.

NRA does not run the US government and does not make the choices for what is good for America. That is done through the voters. We vote who we want at both the state level and the national level. Are we listening to what these politicians are standing for and against? Who is supporting them and funding their campaigns? What are their intentions?

Ask yourself why the NRA has had nothing to say since this most recent massacre? Statements have come out from all over the world. World leaders are offering condolences. Many actors and actresses are coming forward and saying things should be done with violence in movies and TV may need to be looked at. Networks rearranged TV schedules following the massacre due to programming that may have been viewed as showing things in bad taste.

Sunday morning talk shows have done numerous interviews and Meet the Press asked any of 31 pro-gun senators to appear but none responded. Silence speaks volumes.

Using the words “gun control” is beginning to sound UN-American. I think doing nothing as we are seeing more massacres, people crying in disbelief as their loved ones are being identified, going through autopsies and realizing their last conversation was their LAST conversation… that is UN-American.

Personally, I can’t participate in ignoring an issue that is continuously being swept under the rug by groups that argue for their freedoms while others are losing their loved ones, their lives and their future or their sense of security. What about their freedom, our freedom?

Weapons used for hunting and sporting do not call for assault weapons or weapons with large magazines that can gun down numerous people (or animals) in just seconds or minutes.

Many assault weapons are not for either of these uses and are only used to promote keeping an argument going instead of coming to an agreement.

Responsible and legitimate gun owners, politicians and people across America need to give pause to this, put politics aside and be able to really look at this very serious issue, discuss it (peacefully) and deal with it.

Yes, there should be limits, laws, background checks and training required. Yes, there should be renewed proof of this at the time of license renewals for each weapon. A responsible gun owner would understand the need for this because they would only want other responsible and trained, regularly licensed gun owners having other weapons as well.

A major argument is that responsible gun owners and legally purchased guns are not the problem.

My first response is I find it amazing that each “responsible gun owner” can speak for all the other “responsible gun owners” as though they meet all the time and know each other very well.

My second response is that is not true. Legally purchased guns end up in the wrong hands more often than these “responsible gun owners” must realize. The ability to purchase guns is far too easy in far too many places. There needs to be universal laws when it comes to background checks, waiting periods, guns and ammo purchases and an assault weapon ban.

My third response is this. ”Responsible gun owners” do not come with a magic chip in them saying they are responsible, will keep their weapons locked up properly, only use their weapon in the absolute necessity that it is needed and will be in 100% tip top emotional and mental condition for the rest of their life. They also don’t have the promise no one in their family won’t get to their weapons or someone breaking into their home won’t be able to do the same. There are no guarantees.

The NRA makes it seem as though guns are the answer to protection and the government and its laws are trying to take that away from people.

For those trying to hide behind the 2nd amendment, they aren’t the ones who control this discussion. The idea however of more guns being the answer has proven to be wrong, dead wrong.

This is a must read article by:  Mother Jones, “More guns, more mass shootings – coincidence?” Their team put together a lot of facts about guns, violent crimes, laws and changes through a lot of investigating on their part. I urge you to look at the numbers.

Also, looking at some graphs put together by Simon Rogers with the Guardian, America is well armed compared to other societies around the world (88 per 100) and our gun violence speaks for approximately 60% of all homicides.

Another argument is not only guns take lives.

True. It isn’t just a weapon that ends a life. It is a person who believes they have a justified reason to do so.

As humans we react many times out of emotion. In many of these cases, there are feelings of anger, hate, revenge, defeat, entrapment and many times nobody knows what set a person off to commit such violent crimes.

The right thing to do, if a person is thinking rationally is to walk away, take some time to think things over, seek some advice or maybe get more details. A lot of times people are going through situations where counseling is needed and has been needed but either they didn’t know it, didn’t seek it or it wasn’t available.

Too often, a gun is too easily available to pick up, steal or purchase.

Not everyone committing these horrible murders/suicides, massacres and violent crimes were “monsters” before these acts. Many times, no one noticed any signs of behavior change, isolation, depression or signs of mental illness. Other times, it was noticed but they were unable to get help or convince the person to get help.

Does that mean people with emotional or mental illnesses are “monsters”? No. It means people with problems need to be able to seek help, get the proper diagnosis, counseling, medications and not be labeled with a stigma as being “crazy”.

If a person in need of help seeks help and receives help, this is definitely not “crazy”. That is the right thing to do and it should definitely be available to anyone in need of these services.

Many people with emotional and mental illnesses can live fulfilling lives alongside everyone else if they are able to get the medical and emotional help necessary. This important issue in our society cannot continue to be ignored. This is a huge gap in our healthcare system leading to economic and many other life issues. It is easier for Americans to access guns than mental health care. Without truly dealing with this, we can’t move forward on dealing with these murder/suicides, massacres and violent crimes.

There are two sides to be focused on immediately without involving political favors, campaigning, lobbyist and self-promotions.

1)      Too many weapons without just purpose or place in our society (other than within our military)

2)      Not enough available care and treatments for those with emotional and mental needs and disabilities.

For those who can’t clearly see these needs, they aren’t focusing on the real problems. They are standing in the way of what needs to lead to a drastic change.

We can’t just cover the cracks or kick the can down the road.

Our biggest war is going on here at home and our children and loved ones are the victims.

What is the difference between these recent massacres and 9/11? We are part of the blame. We vote. We have voices and if the issue isn’t being addressed, keep pursuing the issues.

These victims didn’t have a choice and now their voices have been silenced.

20 children silenced (ages 6 – 7) and 6 adults (their principal, school psychologist, two teachers, and teaching assistants)

This is our country, our communities and our neighborhoods. Those teachers are our teachers and those children are our children.

Speak up.

UPDATE: President Obama speaks at Newtown High School

Must see video below:

Video Tribute “Lives cut short by school shooting” – by: Anderson Cooper and the AC360 Team

 

Add on: “Balloons released to Heaven Among the Stars” Remembering Sandy Hook Elementary, Newtown, CT.

With love, 

Tribute to Sandy Hook, Newtown CT December 14, 2012

Behind the healthcare debate

All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, Florida

Long last, the decision everyone was waiting for. The Supreme Court voted 5 – 4 on Thursday to uphold President Obama’s healthcare law, the Affordable Healthcare Act (ACA).

Since ACA was signed into law by President Obama on March 23, 2010, quite a few very important parts have already gone into effect.

• Providing small business health insurance Tax Credit

• Relief for millions of seniors in the Medicare Prescription Drug “Donut Hole”

• Providing access to insurance for uninsured Americans w/ pre-existing conditions

• Extended coverage for young adults to stay on parent’s plan till age 26

• Providing free preventative care

• Eliminating lifetime limits

• Prohibiting denying coverage of children based on pre-existing conditions

• Prescription drug discounts

• Free preventive care for seniors

Much of this has been overshadowed and misunderstood due to continuous debates and the ongoing effort to repeal the entire Affordable Care Act better known as, “Obamacare”.

The Republican Campaign in 2010 focused greatly on a total repeal, signing pledges and stating their mission if elected would be this repeal and making sure Obama was a one term President.

As they campaigned, it wasn’t about what they could do to improve our nation, their states or what jobs they would actually focus on once they were seated in Washington. Their focus was on what they could undo and how they could use tactics to somehow tarnish Obama’s first term in office to hopefully make it his only term in office.

The way this Congress has been operating is exactly the way the 2010 candidates presented themselves during their campaigns. They ran on misinformation, desperation and what became a popular and easy idea because of them, REPEAL!

What did the American people get? Voter’s remorse maybe? But, a large number of Americans are also getting insurance benefits they did not have and that is due to the Affordable Care Act these same Republicans have and are still trying to in some way repeal.

As the Supreme Court’s decision came in, it was clear there would be statements from both sides. This debate has gone on for this long and is a topic that not only has an effect on the lives of so many Americans but has also caused such an ongoing divide amongst a large number of individuals as well. The idea of that should be troubling but it seems to be feeding an ongoing debate that often times the media is playing into.

The divisions are often based on misunderstandings of the law or due to social and economical differences. These differences are not new and often come up in other issues as well. The idea is to bridge gaps not feed into the source causing them.

The first need is to understand what the Affordable Care Act is and what it is not. Stay informed.

The second thing is to not only consider the needs of the American people now but also in the future. Understand that things happen in life that people could never plan on.

Example: One day, without notice a person can suffer a massive heart attack, have a stroke or be diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, cancer or come down chronically ill with something that makes them unable to work, continue day to day activity or even be given the news they are facing death. Most people do not want to think this can happen to them and certainly one would hope this doesn’t happen to anyone.

When something like this occurs however, life takes a dramatic turn. Suddenly the focus is on the illness, treatments, doctor and hospital visits and most everything else is on the back burner. This is a time of extreme uncertainty.

This situation happens all across America, everyday. This affects working families, single income families with or without insurance, every economic level, any race, any religion and at any time.

Things that should not be happening are insurance companies taking advantage of people getting sick by denying treatments and/or medications ordered by the doctor, hiking up rates on patients because they are receiving treatment and/or setting annual or lifetime dollar limits on a patient’s coverage.

These tactics make medical cost for insured patients unaffordable. They also shouldn’t be able to deny someone coverage because they happened to survive their heart attack, stroke, cancer or are living with asthma, diabetes or other illnesses they consider to be “pre-existing”.

Everyone should agree to this. That is simple.

Healthcare is a must for everyone. It shouldn’t depend on your age, your economic status or whether you are coming down sick or in really serious condition. A person is more likely to stay behind their health with health insurance than without. Chronic conditions need to be managed or they can become life-threatening. Many viruses could be better managed if more people received flu shots and many conditions like high blood pressure and high cholesterol could be kept under control before more serious conditions arose due to either a person not knowing about the condition or the lack of available treatment.

Overall, people do not like getting sick, enjoy feeling better even if they may dislike or are nervous to visit a doctor.

Soon after the Supreme Court’s decision, Mitt Romney made a statement. Part of his statement was this. “If we want to get rid of Obamacare, we’re going to have to replace President Obama. My mission is to make sure we do exactly that. That we return to the American people the privilege they’ve always had to live their lives in the way they feel most appropriate. Where we don’t pass on to coming generations massive deficits and debt, where we don’t have a setting where jobs are lost.”

The problem with that statement is a great number of people are not able to live the way they feel “appropriate” or even acceptable. Many people have to decide between getting prescriptions filled or to putting gas in the car, paying utility bills or buying groceries. A large number of families have lost homes due to medical bills or living expenses while overseeing a loved one’s medical care. Others skip going to the doctor at all together because often times they can’t afford the visit, are without insurance coverage, or the deductibles have become so large due to adjustments made trying to bring the monthly premium down.

On the idea of passing down “deficit and debts, plenty of Americans have taken out multiple mortgages on homes to pay for medical cost and/or cover expenses for time out of work during medical treatments for themselves or their loved one. That is a huge financial crisis for a family and a burden that will pass along to their children most likely.

Often times it is said that to know what someone else is going through, you’d have to walk a mile in their shoes. It shouldn’t take a mile or a “pair of shoes”. This isn’t about Republicans or Democrats, winners or losers and it isn’t about the rich or the poor or the ones in the middle.

This is about all Americans and humanity.

It is also about looking ahead and being prepared.

A person or a family should not have to go broke to take care of medical expenses.

More sadly, a family shouldn’t have to lose a home while going through the loss of a loved one.

Anyone should be able to take their child to the doctor and receive quality care when they are ill.

Everyone should be able to receive quality care for chronic illnesses and not worry they may be dropped from their insurance company because they are sick.

When a family or anyone is facing a tragedy, our Country should have in place a system that shows we are a Nation with high quality care and we value each Citizen as well as our morals, unity and integrity. It should be a standard we set and a statement we are proud to stand by. It shouldn’t be an issue fought over in Washington but instead a value protected year after year.

After all, looking after the American people is their job and our future.