Laying Down on the Job

Laying Down on the Job
The Santa Monica Easy

Friday, August 21, 2009

"Lead, Follow or Get Out of the Way!" - Thomas Paine

During times of disaster, whether natural or man made, I am always deeply touched, moved and inspired by the generosity and sense of unity we Americans have. We have a history of coming together, not just opening our wallets but locking arms and spending real sweat equity to help those who suffer. We volunteer to aid strangers whose home has burned to the ground. We donate blood, share food and give of ourselves. Where there's a neighbor in need, we help where we can and with what we have. That spirit is a national treasure that shows up when we need it most. When the disaster subsides, we tend to go back to our lives and forget how much of a difference we made to another person's life and how that action impacts the future in a positive way. We have the opportunity to make a difference to the future of this country in the same way we may have made a difference to others in times of emergency. Perhaps more than belief, it's a matter of recalling what we've already accomplished and unifying our national will to make it happen.

The episode on tonight's "Bill Moyers Journal" profiled 3 people diagnosed with catastrophic disease but no health insurance. No one with a heart could watch that story and have it not break. I know their stores well. My mother died from cancer because she had no health insurance and waited too long to go to the doctor. After 6 years of surgery, remission, hope, re-occurrence, more surgery, chemo, experimental treatments, she passed away, alone, in a hospital ICU. Dad was left with nearly $90,000 in medical bills -- and that was in 1985. My own health insurance story is one of financial ruin that's acutely altered the trajectory of my life and future, but at least I had insurance.

If human empathy were dollars, we would all have affordable insurance and never have to worry about whether we could afford to see the doctor. It's not that simple but it should be. We don't want to think about it because it's complicated and difficult. Yes -- and so what? Giving birth to a country was complicated and difficult yet a relatively small group tenaciously stuck to the task and got it done. Fighting to keep this country unified was even more complicated and difficult but it got done. it is time to unify again and make that next great leap forward. Affordable health care for all is no where near as difficult as the American Revolution or the Civil War and future generations will wish they'd been alive today to see how it got done. It will take vision, perseverance, determination, creativity, selflessness and National Will. Everything in this country's past that moved it collectively to higher plain has come from progressive thinking, starting with the Declaration of Independence to emancipation, to women's right to vote, child labor laws, Social Security, the Civil Rights Bill and Medicare. It is time to gather courage, step up and create a clearing for the future greatness of this wonderful country. To the politicians I say, "Lead, follow or get out of the way."

Next week; Money-Driven Medicine will be aired on "Bill Moyers Journal".

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