How We Can Do It

Check this out from the BBC , or this one from The Guardian, or this from the University of Oxford. Three reputable sources with the same story – the cuts in the United Kingdom have been disastrous — they have cost lives!

I know folks don’t want to hear or look at this – it means we really should be taking some action or we are definitely part of the problem — so I get it…it is one more thing on a pile of things life is demanding.

But consider taking just a bit of quiet time and seeing if there isn’t just one thing you don’t need to do everyday. I’ll be honest, I never did this until I was disabled and I had to do it. As my journey continues, I’ve come to realize there was so much I never “needed” to do, so much I did out of routine or childhood lessons. So please, take some quiet time and ask whatever power you ask, “Is there something I don’t need to do anymore? Some time I could find to help my neighbors in their battle?”

Did you do it? No? Okay, try again…it won’t take long — I promise. Come back when you are done. Okay?

Done? Really? Okay, I believe you…

Now, with this time, which may be significant or not, perhaps you could write a letter, speak out, go to a rally (most are not cray cray violent, and I haven’t seen one yet which started out with intent on violence – rallies are ‘peaceful’ gatherings, and when the peace is lost, there is usually a reason, an escalating conflict. Don’t be the escalator, keep in the ‘peace zone’), You could call your Congressional representatives (or, in some cases, find out who they are and then call them), join a activist group, work on a campaign you believe in (no, I’m not gonna say who, that’s not what America is about — you have decide who and then vote), or just make sure you are registered to vote.

Look, I get many of us are burnt out on politics, but these folks want their jobs, and if enough of us call and make it clear we “will” vote for a viable candidate, then we will evoke change. And frankly, I’m not saying one party is better than the other — but we need to vote the folks out who voted to end Medicare, and make no mistake, that is their goal.

Samantha Bee (warning, this is “R” rated and biased) did a nice piece quite a while ago about Florida’s mental health issues and resolution. The story goes like this: Florida ended mental health care essentially by defunding it until there were only 4 mental health care facilities left in the entire state. The new tax bill defunds Medicare, but on top of that it slows the payments to doctors.

They did this with Medicaid at one point, and many doctors stopped accepting it, leaving options for the poorest of the poor,who use Medicaid, extremely limited. The tax plan uses the same idea. The American public voiced their object to defunding Medicaid, so they are attacking Medicare, defunding it and only allowing payments in each year which stay within the budget. So if a doctor sees you on Medicare, and there is no more money in the Federal budget to pay that doctor, he must wait until next budget year.

With Medicaid, it became a two year wait — which is what lead doctors to stop accepting Medicaid, and some still don’t take it. Now all those who have a bit more than those on Medicaid are going to feel the same pain and shame of having your doctor decline you as a patient. The first sign you will see in your doctor’s office will be a “Not Accepting New Medicare Patients”, but trust me, the next one is “We No Longer Accept Medicare”. Let’s continue our Florida story, so you can see how this worked out there…

Florida’s mental health issues didn’t disappear when treatment became unavailable. It is like suggesting diabetes or thyroid or heart disease just disappears without treatment. The four facilities left in the state were at 100% capacity (imagine if our hospitals were like that…do you think you could wait for surgeries???) So what happened to all the folks who needed mental health care in Florida? They were often on the streets and would be charged with misdemeanors, put in jail, released, charged again, put in jail, released, ad infinitum.

In the Medicare scenario it is not so simple. Although there are some who may become homeless trying to pay for their health care out of pocket, many more will just die (refer to the 3 articles I posted above).

But in Florida, something miraculous happened. One person realized how darned expensive using the jail system to ‘not’ treat mental health patients was. He began speaking about how horrible the system was, how expensive, how useless. He implemented changes in his own community to treat mental health patients which resulted in their ability to shut down an entire jail facility, saving the community millions! He demonstrated he was right — it was hard to argue with, but…

His campaign for reform lasted over 10 years before the Governor of Florida passed legislation to return funding to mental health patients. Yeah, it took a long time, but a speck of time when we consider how long we have been addressing so many civil rights in America. America can defund things quickly, but getting the ‘right’ thing done can take time, soooo much time. And I know it is exhausting, they are counting on that, they are counting on your exhaustion.

But this is still a country of people — and you are one of those people — maybe feeling as one person you don’t a make difference, but we need you — there are many of us already. So you are not alone. So think about it — how far will you let this go before taking action? Ai Wei Wei, a Chinese artist and activist, very outspoken, dangerously outspoken, about his government, is often asked how he can be so brave to speak out. He answers consistently, he is not brave, he is afraid, more afraid than others. He has no choice but to act on his fear. We really ought to always be afraid of losing our democracy and our right as a people to run it.

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