Tag Archives: congress

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.

Communication breakdown

Another day
Photo by: Marshall Astor

Do you get up each day wondering how you will make it through another day of repeating the same steps you repeated the day before?

Did you drop into bed the night before wondering why something just doesn’t seem to be “clicking into place” or that certain moment isn’t happening in your life?

Your “moment” may be different from someone else’s and what may seem repetitive to you may not to someone else but what is lacking more and more in society today is genuine interaction, conversation, listening, being heard and that feedback from someone on a level that is not only listening but being heard and really being tuned into to what is being said.

Genuine interaction with friends
Photo by: Philm

No, this is not an ad for Match.com but our society is changing everyday and with those changes come many benefits but also struggles if there isn’t the ability to adapt. However, is there always a way to adapt an entire society to an ongoing cycle of change?

Let’s look at one part, communication.

How many ways could one communicate 40 years ago?

Write a letter, make a phone call, telegram, or face to face pretty much.

"Old fashion" ways of staying in touch still do exist....
Photo by Muffet

Many people knew people in their neighborhoods, communities, schools, families and kept more in touch with the people around them on a more personal level.

Today, we have grown in the ability to have a much larger number of ways to stay in contact, at anytime, with nearly anyone, all over the world, even meet complete strangers.

We have the Internet which has given us numerous social medias like FaceBook, Twitter, Tagged, messaging, email, live chat, Skype, multiple online dating services, and countless ways which I am not intentionally leaving out. The fact is, the ability to communicate via the Internet is huge!

We have cellphones which allow us the ability to receive and make calls from anywhere and to anywhere which, even if it may seem rude, could mean a quiet movie theater, the bathroom, or in the middle of “nowhere” (can you hear me now?).

Contact ability goes everywhere we go....
Photo by: Anthony Quintano

Plus, with cell phones, there is texting…lots of texting! I’m not so sure if that counts as “communicating” but there are words being exchanged…so I am including it here.

It almost seems old fashion to mention the fact someone can send a Fax but it is a way to communicate….

So, here comes another point. It seems today there is less actual communication. There is far less listening and the ability to communicate and reason a point seems to be going down the drain.

Relationships are being built on the Internet, carried out through texting, and more of what was once built face to face is lost. That emotional connection, expression is becoming more of a lost part in our society.

Again, I’m not just talking about dating relationships. I mean real relationships with friends, family, people with similar experiences.

How well do you really know those you are “in touch” with?

How well do you know your neighbors, schoolmates, coworkers, distant family? Do you just keep up with their FaceBook, Blog or text here and there? Do you ask them questions?

Most of us have become very accustomed to today’s way of life. It’s easier and more suited to our busy schedules.

Our kids have the same way of life. Seriously, we text each other in the house (I have!)

But, we can’t let go of the need to sit down face to face and communicate, really let things go for a while. Ask people how they are doing and about their goals or what they are facing.

Discuss issues at work or social events
Photo by: Gelatobaby

People right next door or at our job may be facing hunger, a death in the family, domestic violence, loss of their home, divorce or a crisis but without asking or showing concern, the day may pass by, a week or a month and just the same, “I’m fine” until one day, they just aren’t at work.

In our country, we are facing some of the toughest times ever. This is not the time to say, “It’ll pass,” and just leave everything up to our leaders in Washington.

These problems started a long time ago. It is not a party problem or a political problem. This is a communication problem.

As many of us have lost close contact with those in our workplaces, schools, communities and even our own families and may not be listening to what is always being said, these leaders aren’t listening either. How can they be making sound and solid decisions without hearing what their constituents, the voters are really calling for, asking for and needing? This is causing consequences for everyone and needs to be understood and addressed. Each person taking responsibility for their own actions and what they have been given the opportunity and trust to uphold.

Here’s an example. As an adult, you have a choice of whether to go to work or not. You can choose to never go. There will most likely be very strong consequences for you choosing not to go and they will probably go into effect pretty quickly.

However, when an elected official in Washington has a job to get done and keeps procrastinating and all of America is on pins and needles, it is okay for them to put it on hold, bicker back and forth like babies and continuously act as though they can’t decide on whether it is more appropriate to help keep funding for those who need it or those who can afford to give up some breaks?

Either way, no matter what, their job isn’t on the line, their pay isn’t on the line, the health care isn’t on the line and their homes aren’t up for foreclosure.

Do they talk face to face to the people who are going through these things or do they just go by reports being fed to them by those working for them? Have they lost the ability to listen or be genuinely immersed in a conversation and have that desire to do something that matters or is it just more important to win?

Washington shouldn’t be about winning. It was supposed to be about representing but you can’t do that if you can’t listen to those you represent.

Instead of just using the phrase, “What the American people want,” maybe it would be to everyone’s benefit to find that out again by actually learning to communicate the old fashion way.

Talks, talks and more talks but who are the discussions about and who are they listening to? How long is this acceptable?

The answer is in diversity

America is a nation that was built on diversity. It wasn’t something that was a choice or a point in the nation’s history where a vote was held to allow immigrants to start coming in. No, America has been a land of freedom for immigrants all through the many years of its history.

Having people from all around the world living and working in one country, with different backgrounds, cultures, religions and beliefs means an absolute necessity to come together with respect, tolerance and understanding. This doesn’t mean that everyone has to become who the other person is but it means that each person does need to understand each others’ differences and learn to respect those and realize that each person has many likenesses and common goals which is what drives America to move forward.

America has always been known as the land of opportunity and has been looked to for its great medical advances, technological advances, freedoms and many other qualities that have been part of what has made America a place of growth, opportunity and achievement.

What gives that edge to America? America has qualified input from its citizens and residents that reside here from all over the world. Everyone that comes here brings with them their expertise, their dreams, goals and determination to have a better life. Whether they come here to be a doctor, a scientist, a student, an engineer, a chef or whatever they desire to be, they become part of the American fabric.

Too often, a person is judged by the way they speak or the way they look or by what part of history their culture or religion has played in America’s past but has that individual personally been part of that history?

Why should they be judged? Why would their religion be held responsible for a group of extremist?

Throughout America, look around, there are many different people. Different races, cultures, religions and with each person there is a story. Until people take time to talk to each other, there is no way of knowing who the other person is. There is no reason to judge someone without knowing that particular individual, not by something that someone said or what someone may think but by talking to them and knowing them individually.
Without this effort and getting to know those around this great land of diversity and culture, a lot of what America has to offer is being put to the wayside and being wasted. So many people are in the shadows.
Showing respect, tolerance and understanding may be the best thing to start moving the U.S. out of the struggles it seems to be stuck in. This is not just something to learn when it comes to working within different cultures, races, religions and beliefs. This is also true when working with anyone, for any reason. This is true within our political parties, our Congress and our House. This is true in our schools with our young people. This is true within the workplace. This should just be part of daily life in America.

It starts with wanting to make a difference, stop arguing, end hate and intolerance and be willing to do what it takes to move America forward and making life better for everyone and each generation to come.

The best America has to offer may be one conversation away, one handshake away or one smile away.

 

Tweet Congress

That’s right! More of congress has picked up on the fact that Twitter is a direct way of not only sending a short message (140 characters or less) but also one of the most direct ways to see what many people are chatting about, angry about, planning on or just anything that is going on in the world. It’s also a great way to see what the American people are saying about congress and what they are doing or are not doing.

According to tweetcongress.org, Representative John McCain from Arizona has over 1.7 million followers on Twitter and the first Congressional member to join Twitter was Representative Eric Cantor from Virginia. He joined Twitter in April 2007.

By visiting the website, a person is able to sign on using their Twitter account, click on a member of congress which brings up all of their contact information including any websites, phone numbers and Twitter account. Then a person can choose to follow this person or just retweet what they have tweeted, reply to them or go to their website or choose to go back to the homepage.

There is also a blog, photos and a video section on the site. Since the site is newer, there should be more added to it in the near future and more of Congress signing up for Twitter accounts.

Don’t be disappointed if you aren’t yet part of Twitterverse, there is a “Tweetstream” on the tweetcongress.org site to read what congress is tweeting which can be anything from congressional business like news in D.C., upcoming votes, past votes, messages to constituents, events in their states, or personal business with family, news about their favorite sports teams or just a random thought.

Twitter is whatever a user decides to make it. A person can just be all about business and the news or just be random all the time or mix it up and leave people wondering what they will tweet next? Twitter has become as big as it is because it is made up of so many people around the world doing so many different things and tweeting about it. Twitter is also a place where a great amount of discussions go on, sharing thoughts and opinions as well as people sharing ideas for common problems around the world.

At this time in Congress (things tend to change fast in Twitterverse) there are 127 Republicans, 103 Democrats and 2 Independents with active Twitter accounts. Those not tweeting at the moment should be signing on any day, depending on the November elections possibly.

The question is, will they get called down for tweeting while in session or can they keep their tweets under control?





You can find me on Twitter @tracysolomon

Change Happens

It is what millions of people voted for and it is what we are seeing. Whether a person voted for the current administration or not, what is going on will in some way affect each of us. If there were no changes occurring at the moment, people would be complaining. If there were different changes occurring, there would be different complaints going around work places, coffee shops, on the streets, talk shows, waiting lines at grocery stores and now, social media. That is just the way things are in our country. Things have really changed in that area. People have a large demographic they can share their opinion. Is that a problem? Well, it can get irritating and of course the media can make it very repetitive to listen to but that is what America is about when it comes to the First Amendment’s “Freedom of Speech” right? Look at me, I am sharing my opinion. I read other people’s opinions, a lot. I listen to the news, I read Facebook, Twitter, Email, Blogs, etc. I get it from a lot of different angles. I choose to stay away from Talk Radio.

I don’t mind hearing someone’s opinion or reading their opinion or, in most cases, I have the option to just turn off the TV or not check on the sources I read. We all have those choices. More and more though, it doesn’t matter where I turn, those opinions are showing up in ways that are becoming harder and harder for me to avoid. If I am going to watch the news, I am going to run into story after story of protests that have turned into crimes or protestors that are threatening different leaders for their stance on issues or votes. These are more recent events. I was stunned (maybe I shouldn’t have been but then that would mean I was becoming accepting with the way things are becoming) of the fact people were threatening the families of some members of congress because of the way they had recently voted. I understand protests have gone on for years, decades even that I can remember. Voting is way this country does things in a democratic and civilized way. We elect the members of Congress and Senate that represent us in Washington during these different votes. I know that may sound like I am minimizing the importance of this last piece of Legislation that was just voted on and how much time, effort and discussion went into this and also how large of an impact this will have on many of us but I am also one of those people. I too spent a lot of time researching, calling my local Representative and before I voted for my local Representative, I researched the candidates because I know the Congress and Senate could be called upon at anytime to make very big and long lasting decisions for our country, my state, me personally. It is a personal thing to me, my vote.

When it comes to my vote, this is something I have discussed when I am asked but not something I go around bringing up anytime I have a chance. I don’t feel everyone wants to hear my feelings and everything I am thinking about at any given moment (It is usually quite boring). I don’t believe in heading straight to vote for whoever is running within my “Party”. In fact, what my Voter Registration card says really doesn’t matter to me. I look over all the candidates and start narrowing them down as I learn more and more. I certainly don’t learn about them via the Commentators and Journalist on TV or Emails that are passed around and forwarded. I don’t just listen to what they say about themselves or what they promise. I look at what history they have, what ideas they have. I look at their character, their body language, their voting history and how those that have worked with them speak about them. I look at their families and how they deal with their families, where their priorities seem to lie and how they handle pressure, the media, campaigning and I consider myself a very good judge of character. Obviously people are going to rip into them and attack every angle they can so I also watch how they deal with that pressure as well. I have another good source of decision making to always turn to. Not just for voting or politics but for everyday life. I pray about any big decision. Voting for the President of the United States of America is a huge decision!

This past election, America seemed to turn its decision into more of a witch hunt, a search for reasons to turn against each other and a reason to put common sense behind us and hatred and self first. This has really put our country in a place of a constant spin and it seems that although things are happening and things are changing, many Americans just can’t get their focus back on what is good for America and their families and how working together has always proven to benefit us as a country. Tearing each other down is the quickest and fastest way to run America into turmoil one family after another. Americans need to look at each other and look across their work places and schools, places of worship and remember how many times, desperate times over the centuries we have proven to pull together and make those needed changes and we came out a great Nation, United and Strong.