Health Care

Thursday, 13 August 2009

You can find any number of personal anecdotes about the health care in America just about anywhere in America you go. I’m late to the game, but I’ve got a story too. It’s not an outrageous outlier, or an edge case about just how messed up the health care system is. There’s too much pushing toward extremism in what is currently being spun as the health care “debate”. That’s why I decided to write this.

My Story

I have fantastic health care. I’ve been using the public, County-​run MetroHealth system since I moved to Cleveland in 2003. In all of that time, I’ve had nothing but excellent, compassionate and professional care from the staff at this publicly run and tax-​payer funded hospital and healthcare system. At my old job, I had Kaiser Permanente as my HMO, and while the care I received from MetroHealth was nothing less than amazing, trying to get access to that care was an exercise in bureacrobatics [to portmanteau a neologism]. It’s the same story you’ve heard a thousand times, long waits, high co-​pays, unfriendly staff and poor access.

Now that I work for the County, my health care needs have never been fulfilled in a swifter or more painless manner. My health care program is administered by MetroHealth, and designed specifically for County employees. I have a dedicated number I can call for questions and appointments, I’m guaranteed an appointment within 3 days, I’ve even seen specialists mere hours after having my GP decide I need to see one. I even get to use the MetroHealth prescription counter instead of having to drive a half hour to a Kaiser Permanente approved pharmacy.

If this sounds like a miracle, you should keep in mind that this is what health care can be like when it is government-​driven and tax-​payer funded. There is no profit motive. The system is focused on doing the best job it can, providing quality health care to its citizens.

Debbie’s Story

For awhile, as described in the Tough Times post I put up in March, Debbie had no health care. Not due to any fault of her own, but because her employer’s malcompetence resulted in an entire school of teachers getting laid off. The only affordable policy she could get herself basically covered nothing, and buying into COBRA is a joke for people who don’t make much in the first place. She ended up going to MetroHealth and getting rated. Since she made so little, she only had to pay $5 for her care. And she had her health cared for, through a tax-​payer funded government-​run health care system. Her new insurance doesn’t cover certain medical practices and procedures due to the religious beliefs of her employer. I make no criticism of this, since her employer is paying for her health insurance. However, a public option would at least give her a choice.

A choice to use a tax-​payer funded, government-​run health care system, like the amazing one in Cleveland.

The Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals get a lot of deserved press for the work and research they do into cutting edge medical procedures. MetroHealth deserves just as much praise for the work they do caring for and healing the citizens of Cuyahoga County.

Addressing the Crazy

Death Panels. Seriously? I have a living will, and I am comforted by the fact that it requires more than one doctor to agree that my chance of recovery is hopeless before they pull the plug. A public option will not result in this:

I think the best way to deal with the people who are virulently opposed to a public option (quite a few of which are members of my family), and who are turning the public option idea into a disproportionately ogrish facsimile of the actual law is to:

  • Ask them what their solution is. If they have one, get as much detail from them as possible. Listen to their solution and question the areas you find lacking, be they moral, ethical, economic, political, or procedural. You might not convince them, but you might convince someone who is listening, and you’ll be better able convince other people who might not know their ass from a hole in the ground (they could probably see a doctor for that condition if they had a public option).
  • Go to Reality Check, watch the videos, read the FAQs. When you come across ridiculous email forwards, crazy online rants, etc. reply with actual facts (don’t just link to the site). Nothing hurts The Stupid™ like the 2×4 of Education™.
  • Write any and every Congress-​critter, but your own first. Send them your health care life story and ask them to support the public option.
  • Use the patented Give The Stupid™ Enough Rope To Hang Itself By Its Own Petard While Reasoned And Calm Adults Educate And Debate Amongst Themselves™ method to give The Stupid™ enough rope to hang itself by its own petard while reasoned and calm adults (like the rest of us) educate and debate amongst themselves.

If you made it this far, thanks for reading.

Up To Two

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Most of what’s been going on in my life and through my mind lately hasn’t really warranted a full post, but here are a few things:

Carbon Motors & Connersville

For years I gave my hometown, Connersville, IN nothing but scorn. Probably like most teenagers treat their hometown. Now that I’ve a family of my own, and make more regular trips back home, I’ve come to see Connertucky in a new light. Robert’s Park (and its harness racing track), Spartan Bowl, and the Connersville Country Club in particular are gems in a county that is smaller in population than the neighborhood I currently live in. It’s a great town, that just happened to have fallen on harder and harder times while I was growing up there. This culminated in the closing of a former Ford plant and the layoffs of 700 – 800 folks; causing the already high unemployment rate to skyrocket.

My town is tough though, and filled with a blue collar pride in its rich automotive history (the innovative and historical Cords were assembled in Connersville). Now the C’ville has fought off the competition to reclaim its position making innovative automobiles. Carbon Motors is coming to town. This means jobs and regained self-​respect for those folks who were laid off and will now be able to use their expertise to feed their families once again.

My newfound understanding of Connersville has helped me further understand why I like Cleveland so much. As disparate as these two places are, the people have a lot in common.

Compound Fest

Compound Fest is probably my favorite event involving Cleveland music folks. It’s all day, everybody shows up, tons of local bands, and it’s free!



I’ve always thought that ambition is a negative trait. I’ve also never considered myself that ambitious. But lately I’ve realized that my desire to constantly improve myself, to continuously learn more and to do the best I can at everything is its own form of ambition. It isn’t directed toward something external, like money or power, which is what I usually think of as ambition’s goal. So I guess ambition is like any other tool, its goodness or badness is determined by how it is used.

Applied Anthropology

When I interviewed Ward 15 City Councilman Brian Cummins last week for BLACKHEART Cleveland, he was excited to find out that I got my degree in anthropology. He mentioned that he could see where I was applying those skills doing the weblog thing. I’ve not really thought that I’ve been using those studies in daily life, but since then I’ve been trying to see if and where else I might be unknowingly applying anthropology.