The Politics

An Open Letter to Congressman Mo Brooks

Congressman Brooks-

You don’t know me and I’m not one of your constituents, but I’m writing to you anyway because you said something earlier this week that I think needs a response.

I will be very upfront with my biases. I’m a democrat. I’m a far left, war hating, abortion rights protecting, climate change accepting, welfare protecting liberal. Probably what you’d call a snowflake to your friends. Probably we were never going to agree on healthcare as I have been a proponent of the ACA from day one, but I believe strongly that civil discourse is the foundation of civilization, so I am writing to you despite all of the above facts.

Earlier this week, in an interview, you suggested that people with pre-existing conditions, those who were finally protected under the ACA and stand to lose A LOT under the AHCA, don’t lead good lives. Specifically, you said that the AHCA will be an improvement as it will work at “…reducing the cost to those people who lead good lives, they’re healthy, they’ve done the things to keep their bodies healthy.” And that “…right now, those are the people who have done things the right way that are seeing their costs skyrocketing.”

So basically, sick people will pay more because clearly they have done something to deserve their conditions and they should pay more than a healthy person to receive medical care for them. I think that was the gist of your comment.

Congressman Brooks, I’d like to tell you the story of a pair of brothers I know.

The older brother was born a profoundly, blissfully healthy baby. 6 perfect pounds and 15 gorgeous ounces of healthy baby boy. He had your average first year of life colds from attending daycare (a necessity due to having working parents who had to leave him at 12 weeks to pay back their student loans, another issue for another time), but by your definition, he was leading a “good life.” He even liked vegetables and ate them daily.

When this boy was 10 months old, he crawled off a bed and hit his head on a very hard floor. He was diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury (a large subdural hematoma) later that day and spent several days in the hospital. His medical chart will forever be emblazoned with the TBI diagnosis and while his latest MRI was normal, we don’t fully know what all the long term consequences will be.

He is one of those people who you feel is not living a good life- he’s a person with a pre-existing condition. A person who before the ACA, would not have been able to get even remotely reasonably priced health insurance. Because he fell off a bed. Does he not deserve the same healthcare at the same cost as you? Or is that one incident such an indicator of a “bad life” that for his whole lifetime his healthcare costs should be higher than yours, like some sort of terrible healthcare penance?

Or how about his brother? Born healthy following an unremarkable pregnancy and delivery. He was the most lovely, happy, healthy growing baby until he hit 4 months old. At 4 months his loose upper esophageal sphincter and over production of stomach acid caused him so much discomfort that he could not eat. That he began having pseudoseizures from the pain. He was breastfeeding, which is pretty much as high quality a diet as you can get, which I think should mean that for all intents and purposes, he was living a good life, and yet, he was diagnosed with GERD. A diagnosis that will follow him forever. Where did he go wrong in his journey? Why does his GERD mean that he shouldn’t get the same healthcare you get at the same cost? Have you never popped an antacid? Does that mean you are not living a good life?

Maybe you weren’t talking about my kids when you made that comment, in fact, I’m sure you think you weren’t because you don’t really think that a nearly 5 year old and a 2.5 year old are to blame for their pre-existing conditions. Except, you actually do. They are the exact kind of people whose healthcare will cost more and who will have fewer insurance options to choose from, because in their earliest months of life, before they knew up from down, they were given a diagnosis that cannot be discharged from their medical histories. Because one had the misfortune of falling off a tall bed and because the other inherited a loose sphincter.

Explain to me why it should cost more for them to see their pediatrician when they have an ear ache than it would a child who didn’t have a TBI or didn’t have GERD? Explain to me why they should not be able to get the exact same coverage as your grandchildren at the very same cost?

Why should our children (oh, spoiler alert, they’re my kids) not be covered at the exact same cost as every other nearly 5 year old and 2.5 year old? We already pay more because they have gone to the doctor more (hence copays and testing that is not covered) and because one of them was hospitalized, do we need further penalties? We’re not asking for free healthcare for our kids. We are happy to pay for insurance and pay our copays and do what needs to be done. We’re asking that their healthcare be the same cost for them as for every other child. That they not be punished for pre-existing conditions that they can do nothing about.

Why should anyone who has the misfortune of needing to access healthcare have to pay more than a person who doesn’t? And why do you and several hundred other old white men get to decide if people are leading “good enough lives” to get the same coverage you have at the same cost?

Before you make comments about people deserving their pre-existing conditions, please consider how you’d feel if one of your 8 grandkids had a pre-existing condition that they didn’t somehow “earn” for themselves. Or if your loved was diagnosed with a cancer that wasn’t the result of some poor choice on their part. Would you want them to suffer or their family to be bankrupted to get them the same essential care that you have access to because of your health insurance plan?

When you have a moment, I’d love to hear any suggestions you may have for teaching infants to lead good lives. See, my third son is due in August and I’d hate for him to follow in his brothers’ footsteps of unhealthy living.


My President

Since November 8th, I have refused to use the phrase “not my president.” It may sound silly to those who adopted it on November 9th, but it just felt kind of trite to me. Of course Trump would technically be my president, so why yell about it? What good would it do for me to say that he wasn’t my president before he had even assumed office? I even foolishly hoped that maybe, just maybe, he wouldn’t be as terrible as I imagined. Maybe he would be like ever other president and end up being far more moderate than his campaign.

It has been 10 days since Donald Trump became the president of the United States. And he hasn’t been what I imagined, but that’s only because in my mind I could not possibly conceive of someone who seems to so deeply hate every American value that I hold dear. And yet, here we are.

And so, I would like to be perfectly clear today and every day for as long as he retains this office: Donald Trump is not my president.

I am embarrassed to be an American, to be one of his constituents and I will not be quiet about it. Donald Trump does not represent me and he will never be my president because that is not who my president is.

My president knows that this country was founded on immigrants and does not fear them or build walls to keep them out.

My president does not cast aside refugees who are fleeing terrorism because we are also afraid of terrorists.

My president does not administer a religious test for people seeking refuge from certain death in their home country because my president believes in religious freedom.

My president does not appoint anti-semites to any position of power.

My president does not fire qualified people who disagree with him and is happy to hear differing opinions.

My president does not ignore the judicial branch, but respects that they exist as a check and balance and welcomes their sometimes frustrating part in the government.

My president does not take away health insurance from millions of sick Americans.

My president does not benefit monetarily from leading the country because his first and only concern is helping our country to prosper.

My president does not declare a run for re-election the day he is inaugurated as a political game because he cares more about governing than winning.

My president can respect that other people have drawn bigger crowds because he knows that there are many more important things happening in this world.

My president believes in real, verifiable facts.

My president believes in science.

My president believes in climate change.

My president believes in freedom of the press and freedom of speech.

My president does not hate people, and does not legislate hate.

So no, Donald Trump is not my president.

He is everything I loathe and I fear him more than any terrorist in any corner of the world. He is everything I am raising my children not to be. He is everything our founding fathers feared and everything they sought to protect us from.

Let it be recorded that I will not fall in line. I will not keep my head down and make it through this administration. I will stand up. I will resist. I will speak out for those who don’t have my incredible level of privilege. And I will never stop. I will not let history repeat itself. I will not fall in line.

Because Donald Trump is not and will never be my president.

Us v. Us

Last week, the Islamic center in our city received an anonymous letter in the mail. It said that Trump should do to Muslims what Hitler did to the Jews in the 20th century. The fact this has happened, let alone that it happened here, and in 2016, is nothing short of jaw droopingly disgusting.

Just a few weeks ago, a Facebook friend of mine chastised (honestly, she very nearly mocked) me for expressing concern about anti-semitism in California because, after all, we are a blue state. We live in a deeply “blue” area in a deeply “blue” state, and yet, our Islamic center received that piece of hate mail. It turns out that invisible veil of blue doesn’t really do much to keep hate out.

Our mayor wrote a letter proclaiming support and the community has been amazing. There didn’t seem to be a lot we could do and then a few days ago, a friend of mine coordinated a trip for us and our kids to visit the Islamic center (two trips actually, more of them are going tomorrow). And that happened today.

Prior to the trip, Elijah and I sat down and drew a few cards for the kids there. Just little notes about how we were happy to have them in our neighborhood and that we hoped our cards would make them happy. And with cards in hand, we went today for a visit. We met with several of the people there and then they brought us over to the pre-k class.

We opened the door and found a class of 12 adorable 4 year old boys, all just like my son. They were doing an art project with their teacher, just like my children do each day at school. The teacher, who did not know we were coming (the leader of the Islamic center did), warmly welcomed us in, included our kids in their project and before we could even take a breath, my boys and our friends kids were blending, seamlessly, in with the boys in the Islamic preschool. Because, here’s a news flash, they’re just kids. Their names might be a little different, they pray a little differently than my kids, but they all like trains and trucks and Lego and books. Because they are all kids.

I want to belabor this point because it seems like not everyone understands this fully. The families at our Islamic center are totally normal people. They’re literally us, just a few blocks down the road with a different religious symbol on their front door.

That’s the thing that seems to be getting lost among conservatives, these are just people.

They’re not scary.

They’re not devious.

They’re just people.

They’re just Americans.

They’re just families like mine who are trying to raise their kids to be good people. They’re just families who happen to be born into or chose a different religion than we did. And unfortunately, a terrorist group across the globe bastardized their religion, in very much the same way the KKK has bastardized Christianity. It doesn’t make all Christians racists and it doesn’t make all Muslims terrorists.

While I was in the classroom a little boy built an airplane out of Lego and when I told him I thought it was a cool airplane, he, a little frustrated, corrected me that it was a “jet airplane.” This probably sounds silly, but it struck me because it is an exact conversation I have had with Elijah numerous times.

These boys were just like my boys and it made me feel even worse for their parents. The fear they must feel for their safety and the safety of their children, even in a “blue” state, even in two thousand freaking sixteen, even in a country with a first amendment right to freedom of religion, must be tremendous.

Our visit today didn’t change anything. We don’t need pats on the back for going because it was literally the least any person could do in this situation. But we do need to continue to tell people, especially those who want to sign Muslims up for a registry, those who believe we should refuse to accept Muslim refugees who are dying by the THOUSANDS, running from the very terrorist group we ourselves are fearful of, that these children are just like theirs. That hating them, that ostracizing them, that marginalizing them, is wrong in every way. And if we allow this to happen, if we throw away the first amendment out of unfounded fear drummed up by a neo-fascist president-elect and a conservative media that is so untrustworthy with the truth it cannot be aired as “news” in other countries, we are destroying the very fabric of this country.

If we can’t see that those 12 boys and their families are more like us than they are different, and if we can’t teach our children that, then it doesn’t matter who is president. Because we have set ourselves on a course to repeat the mistakes of fallen republics the world over and no single president can stop us from our own self-destruction.

From Here

I never thought I’d be writing this. We lost. She lost.

My first feeling is one of pure sadness. I wanted her to win. I’m not ashamed to say that I am sad. I saw a future with Hillary that I didn’t know I needed, and now that I’ve seen it, I can’t imagine life without it.

I imagined a society where people of every skin color, nationality and religion, every sexual orientation or gender status, would be equal. Where women would earn the same salaries as men doing the same work. Where maternity leave would be a national requirement. Where a government health insurance option would be the stepping stone to nationalized health care (like the rest of the industrialized world…). I imagined a place where my children would see women as powerful and valuable and more than just mothers or more than just teachers and nurses. Where women were leaders. A world where their role models, their leaders, respected others. A world where men who sexually assault women and who tweet anti-semitic memes, lose and suffer for their bigotry.

And instead, I woke up to an upside down world that I don’t recognize. I woke up to a world where my health insurance may be snatched away. Where my children might be uninsurable. I woke up to a world where my cousin might not be able to marry the love of her life because they both happen to be women. I woke up to a world where a politician is promising to take away my preferred method of birth control because he doesn’t like it.

So what now. Where do we go from here?

I felt like first I needed to address this with my son, who sat with us for some of the election coverage (truth be told, he’s THRILLED that Trump won, as Trump was on the red team and red is his favorite color). He told me last night that he hoped “my friend” would win and so when he asked this morning if she won, I had to tell him no. And he asked why. I was stuck for a moment, because there’s no easy answer for that, but what I told him was that in every story, it looks like the bad guy wins for a while. We talked about Finding Nemo, where it looks like Nemo is going to be given to Darla. We talked about Zootopia, where it looks like the savage animals will take over. We talked about his favorite book and how it seems like the good guys won’t win.

But they do. In all good stories, the good guys persevere and come out on top. I reminded him of the end of all those stories and more and how it we keep fighting, if we refuse to give up, the good guys will win. Our job is to continue to love our neighbors, to support those who need it and to continue to be a good guy.

I don’t know if he understood it, but I think I needed to hear it come out of my mouth as much as he did. I believe what I said. The United States is a good story. We are a story of hope and we will continue to be. The good guys will win. Love will win.

I plan to give myself a few more days of eating my feelings and crying whenever I read Hillary’s concession speech or think about a world where we can’t afford to take our kids to the doctor, but that phase will be short lived. And then it’s time to rise up. It’s time to fight for the good guys. To look ahead to 2018 and to figure out how I can help the future I dreamed of become reality. To get my metaphorical boots on the literal ground and champion democratic senators and representatives so we can gradually, politically, peacefully fight back.

I also plan to give, as much as we can, to organizations that protect the people who will need it most under a Trump presidency- Planned Parenthood, ACLU, NAACP, and many, many more. If you typically receive a holiday gift from me, this year, part of your gift will be a donation in your name to better someone else’s life. If that’s not your thing, then you can smile and pretend because this is bigger than you and me.

And so we look forward. To 2018, to 2020. To fighting the fight of the good guys. To keep our friends and families safe. To finally breaking that glass ceiling wide open and shattering pieces down on every person who held us back, who deprived us of this victory. You cannot stop progress. You cannot stop all of us who were so happy to be with her. Who now know what we’re missing and who are going to fight like hell to get it.

Why a Trump Presidency Terrifies Me

This is a post about politics. I don’t think I’m going to change anyone’s mind, but I’m going to write this anyway. Feel free to walk away now if this is not your thing.

I remember in 2008 and 2012 that there were republicans who made outrageous claims about what our country would be under Barack Obama. They said that he would institute Sharia Law. They said he’d take all the guns. They said he would single handedly destroy the country. I rolled my eyes until I thought they would fall out because the Barack Obama I knew wanted the United States to be successful. He wanted to build jobs and boost the economy and give us health care. He gave me hope for a future that I wanted for this country.

And almost 8 years later, he hasn’t instituted Sharia Law (because he’s not a Muslim, which we knew all along). He didn’t take any guns, even though arguably he should have. He helped rebuild the economy. He helped create hundreds of thousands of jobs. He provided healthcare to children and families. Yep, maybe the Affordable Care Act has issues (which, overwhelmingly, are the fault of the insurance companies who put their profit above all else) and maybe his tax plan doesn’t favor the wealthy, but this country is better than it was 8 years ago. Period. This is agreed upon by historians, economists, military generals and most reasonable people. We don’t have to agree on this, but statistically, we’re better off than we were 8 years ago.

And now it is election time again, and I feel strangely like I think Republicans felt in 2004 and 2008. Hillary is slightly favored to win, but Trump is a huge threat, and I am terrified. And I am trying to withhold some dramatics on this because some of it is certainly not based in reality, but at the same time, a Trump presidency promises some very troubling things.

I am concerned that he is a huge threat to the LGBTQ community in this country. He has vowed to nominate a justice to the supreme court who would oppose marriage equality. His vice president wanted to make requesting a marriage license a crime for gay couples and he supports conversion therapy for gay teens, which has been shown to drastically raise suicide rates in these kids. They want to walk us backward several years and overturn marriage equality. They want to allow states to decide, which will prevent families in states like Utah from being able to be married or receive the same benefits as straight couples. This will harm families- adults and children alike.

I am concerned about Trump’s relationship with Russia and with China. I’m worried that he does not have any understanding of foreign affairs and that his willingness to taunt and make threats to nuclear countries is putting a lot of people in potential danger. Do I think we will be bombed by these countries? Probably not. But might it cost us allies that could be important in the future? Yes. Definitely. And might it eventually lead us into wars we don’t need to be in? Yes.

I am concerned that Trump’s plan of using tax breaks for the wealthy only and trickle down economics, which has never worked and which helped lead us into the great recession, will undo all the economic growth of the last 8 years. Economists across the country have agreed that cutting taxes on the wealthy will only benefit the wealthy. This seems like an obvious move for a billionaire businessman who has done everything he can to avoid paying taxes, legally, I realize, for several decades.

I am so far past concerned that I can no longer see concerned in my rear view mirror, of Trump’s health insurance plan. Allowing insurance companies to cross state lines will definitely drive competition, but with the abolition of the ACA, companies will once again be allowed to charge women more, they will no longer offer free/affordable birth control (and they want to defund Planned Parenthood at the same time), college grads who are still finding a good job will lose the coverage under their parents. And people like me will be excluded or charged astronomical rates because we have pre-existing conditions. We will be prevented from getting health insurance in any affordable way because we are the ones who will use it. Because the insurance companies won’t make as much money on us because they’ll actually have to pay for things. My 4 year old son will not be able to get insurance if his father loses his job (which, if our health care system crashes, is a possibility) because when he was 10 months old he had a traumatic brain injury.

I’m concerned that Trump shows a complete and utter disrespect for women. If one single woman came forward and credibly accused a man of sexually assaulting them, that would be concerning. But when we have a presidential candidate, on tape, admitting to sexually assaulting women, and tens of women coming forward accusing him of doing what he said he did, I cannot dismiss that. Maybe it won’t impact his job performance, but how can I, as a woman, expect Donald Trump to fight for my rights- for equal pay, for equal insurance coverage, for childcare assistance, for anything, when he shows a complete and utter lack of respect for women? How can he lead a country where women make up half the population? How anyone, literally any woman on this earth or anyone who cares about a woman, could ever overlook this astounds me.

Hillary Clinton is not perfect and I will not pretend that she is.

She has admitted to making mistakes with her emails and maybe that’s off-putting to some people. But I’m assuming that you are also calling for Colin Powell to be investigated, as he also used a private email server when he was Secretary of State. And I’m assuming you’re calling for George W Bush and Dick Cheney to also be investigated as they deleted hundreds of thousands of emails after they were subpoenaed, and likely, many of them continued information about the Iraq war that was started on false presences. If you are only outraged about Hillary Clinton, you are either extremely ignorant of actual current events, or you are a hypocrite. Take your pick.

She was Secretary of State during the attack in Benghazi and she first, erroneously reported that the attack was related to a movie. She was wrong, she has admitted that, and provided all the requested information. She has been investigated up, down and in-between, and to the tone of thousands of dollars and hours, and found to be innocent in any wrong doing. And if you are calling for her imprisonment for this, I assume you are calling for the imprisonment of Colin Powell and Condaleezza Rice, under whom there were 11 and 9 embassy attacks, respectively. If this is your hill to politically die on, you better be calling for the investigation of Powell and Rice, or once again, you’re a hypocrite.

She’s a woman. And if that’s why you’re not voting for her, then you are a shitty human being. I am not sorry for saying it.

She stood by her husband after he had multiple affairs and he has been accused of sexual assault. Definitely we shouldn’t re-elect Bill Clinton, because he is not respectful of women, but if you are really punishing Hillary for staying with her husband and not punishing Trump for cheating on his wives, then, once again, you are a hypocrite.

Hillary Clinton is one of the most qualified candidates for president that we’ve ever had. She was first lady, which gave her a much better understanding of the stresses and procedures of the presidency than most politicians have. She was a two term New York Senator. She was Secretary of State. She has fought her way up from the bottom, from modest beginnings, through law school, as a public defender, all the way up to the precipice of the presidency.

If you simply disagree with Hillary’s policies in the same way I disagree with Trump’s, then it makes perfect sense that you wouldn’t vote for her and I don’t think anyone is asking you to do so. But if you are buying into sensationalized news stories from alt-right websites, and that’s your reason for not voting for Hillary, you need to take a hard look at your choices and your understanding of what’s really at stake in this election. Read the reports from experts in economics and military strategy and civil rights. Turn off Fox News (turn off MSNBC if you’re watching that too) and read stories from other news sources, look to news sources abroad. Look at what the world is saying, because aside from Russia, they are telling you to run, screaming, away from Donald Trump. And that should mean something.

There is no question that this election is historic, I just hope that it is historic for the right reasons, rather than for the wrong choice.

What a day this has been

Today, three people fired guns at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, California. Of the hundreds of mass shootings that have taken place in this country, none have ever come near my home or my loved ones. I felt passionately about them and spoke out for better gun control and all the other liberal talking points I believe in my heart but repeated without thought.

Today was different.

The Inland Regional Center (IRC) is a place that I work closely with each day. They provide services for a huge percentage of my patients (they are sort (emphasis on sort of) of like free insurance for kids under age 3 with developmental delays, so they essentially pay my clinic to provide the therapies), including PT, OT, speech, infant stimulation and later in life, respite care and protective supervision services.

I email IRC service coordinators every day, sometimes multiple times a day. I speak to them on the phone, I meet them in person. I sit with them at IEPs and other patient related meetings. They occasionally sit in on my therapy sessions. They have allowed me to do some experimental things with kids even though they were unproven and costly. They have trusted me with these children when funding has been tight. These are good people who work hard every day to make sure that kids are getting the care they need.

Today people in body armor with assault weapons went into their building and murdered at least 14 innocent people. Injured even more. And those who were not physically harmed were certainly emotionally devastated. It appears that those targeted were not employees of the IRC, but we didn’t know that initially and we literally waited for hours to hear whether people I know are okay. And 10 hours later, we still don’t know if some of them are alive.

I literally don’t know if people I’ve worked with are alive tonight.

The other, completely terrifying part of what unfolded today was that it took place less than a mile from where my husband was working. And the suspects fled in a car and could’ve gone anywhere. I wasn’t in a building with an active shooter today, but I’m not sure I’ve ever been as scared as I was today.

When I heard that the suspects had fled the initial scene, I was in the car driving back to the office after an IEP meeting. I immediately thought about my husband, about his safety and about what could happen. I thought about what I would do if I lost my husband today. How would I ever tell my 3.5 year old that a stranger shot and killed his father. It’s 2015 and I live in the United States. I actually imagined telling my child that his father was murdered at work. This is not a thing that should be happening.

If today’s shooting is anything like the other hundreds of shootings this year (and if the news reports are correct), the guns were obtained legally. These were not bad guys who stole guns, these were bad guys who bought their guns legally.

In this country, we keep a list of people who are presumed to be so evil, so violent and volatile and untrustworthy that they cannot fly on an airplane. Even after going through a metal detector and a body scan and probably being patted down, we won’t even let them board an airplane, and yet, we let those same people buy guns. They can’t fly, unarmed, on an airplane, but they can walk into an elementary school with a gun they obtained legally.

We have a problem. This country has a problem. It’s not that the good guys don’t have enough guns. It’s not that bad guys are getting guns illegally. It’s that we’ve made guns glamorous, easy to get and we’ve created an environment where violence is normal. We are no longer appalled that someone has walked into a room and killed 14 people. We have lost our voices from yelling at people who have their hands over their ears and their pockets stuffed with donations from the NRA. Guns have become such a common part of our culture that last month, a man was acting unusual while brandishing a large weapon and police didn’t even report because walking around with large guns is legal and normal. That man went on to shoot another crowd of people.

Mass shootings have become normal.

Today was terrifying for me, but it was also upsetting because I know, deep down, that nothing good will come of it. The lives lost today won’t prevent future deaths. Legislation won’t be passed because there is a vocal and wealthy group of conservatives who firmly believe that their right to bear arms is more important than my right to live. Than my children’s rights to have their father be safe in his workplace. Than the right to life of all those people at the IRC today.

We have lost our humanity. How do we stay safe in a country where there are no more safe places?

Why we're Voting NO on Proposition 46

If you’re not from California, this post maybe won’t necessarily impact you directly, but it is something important enough and close enough to my heart that I’m going to post it here regardless. I will preface this with the fact that my husband is a physician in California. We’re not hiding that fact, but even if he wasn’t, we would still vote the same way.

There is a proposition on the ballot this November called Prop 46. At first glance, it has a lot of really appealing ideas. It requires mandatory drug testing of physicians and punishes those who test positive. It requires physicians to consult with a national database before prescribing controlled substances, as a way to reduce prescription drug abuse and doctor shopping. Oh and it raises medical malpractice payouts to 1.1 million (from $250,000).

Once you get past that first glance, there are huge, serious issues here.

I’m not going to argue against drug testing for physicians. That was something that was added to the front of this proposition to try to hide what this is really about. If someone wants to draw up a clean proposition for vote that isn’t written by trial lawyers trying to make a buck, I will happily support drug testing physicians. I have been drug tested as a teacher and as a physical therapist, I have absolutely zero issue with drug testing and appropriately punishing/reporting physicians. So let’s just set that aside because it’s a trojan horse.

Malpractice Cap
A little history: The current malpractice cap was created by an act known as the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act. The idea was to put a limit on the “pain and suffering” payouts that result from medical malpractice, as a way to help prevent malpractice insurance costs from being prohibitive to practicing medicine. It doesn’t cap payouts for medical care, it simply says that beyond the amount that will be paid to cover medical costs and medical care following an event of malpractice, you can only get an additional $250,000 for the suffering the patient/family experienced.

Proposition 46 quadruples that amount to over $1 million dollars for pain and suffering alone. Proponents of prop 46 will say that this is to correct for inflation and that the cost of increased insurance for physicians won’t be passed along to consumers, but they also don’t explain how that’s possible. Probably because it’s not.

If physicians now need to carry FOUR times their current malpractice insurance, how will they pay for that insurance increase? I know popular belief is that physicians sleep on their piles of money, but I can say with great confidence that it couldn’t be farther from the truth. To answer my own question, physicians will respond to their increased insurance in 1 of 2 ways: 1. They will stop practicing (either all together or at least in California) or 2. They will be forced to charge patients more- likely by way of yearly feeds to be a patient, charging for after hours services, or refusing to see low paying insurances.

So basically you will end up paying more out of your pocket or you will need to find a new doctor (who will charge you more). But, on the off chance that you’re one of a very tiny number of people who experience medical malpractice, you can now sue the pants off your doctor. And if you’re one of the lawyers who created this proposition, you can get 4 times as rich!

CURES Database
The other major, major issue with this proposition is the forced use of the drug history database. The Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System (CURES) is a database that is used to track prescription use. Basically pharmacists enter schedule II-IV drugs into the system with the idea being to catch patients who doctor shop for medications and to track doctors who are “overprescribing” medications. Currently only a fraction of physicians and pharmacists use this database and it is poorly funded and doesn’t work well as a result. Prop 46 would require physicians to consult CURES before prescribing any schedule II or III medications.

I’m not going to lie, I think having physicians use the CURES database is awesome. There is strong support for this and I understand why. We DO have a problem with prescription drug abuse. We do have an issue with doctor shopping. And to a lesser extent and issue with overprescription. We need to address this, but the CURES database, in it’s current form, won’t do that.

The database isn’t ready for mandatory use. In California, once a proposition passes, it has to be enacted immediately. There is absolutely no way that the day after the election every physician or pharmacist could use CURES. It would crash within the first hour. This means doctors wouldn’t be able to prescribe, pharmacists wouldn’t be able to dispense medications. The database will take months and millions of dollars to be ready for mandatory use. Where exactly is that money coming from? And in it’s current form, the CURES database isn’t protected adequately, which means your sensitive personal medical information is at risk.

It’s really unfortunate that we’ve allowed 2 very important issues- drug abuse by physicians and prescription drug abuse by patients, get thrown together with a relatively obvious ploy for more money by trial lawyers. This proposition isn’t really about patients or protecting people, it’s about money. It’s about trial lawyers getting more money from malpractice at great cost to consumers, both financially and personally. It’s going to increase healthcare costs across the state, it’s going to cause physicians to move or retire and it’s going to put sensitive medical information at risk.

It’s just not worth it. We can do better. Voting no on this proposition doesn’t mean giving up on prescription drug abuse, it means seeing this for what it is: a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Vote no on proposition 46 and tell trial lawyers that they can’t trick voters into higher medical costs that harm patients and physicians and benefit a small group lawyers.

For more information, this is the most recent Legislative Analyst’s office report. It will better explain a lot of the costs.

Also, there’s a full list of donors who gave over $50,000 towards this proposition on this website. Interestingly, all but 2 of the donors are groups of lawyers.

(Just as an FYI, I am moderating comments on this post- but not original comments. You are free to share your opinion as to why you agree or disagree with this post and I encourage you to do so. I wrote this and am prepared to handle the disagreement, however, you are not free to harass other commenters because they disagree with you.)

Why I'm Voting for Barack Obama

I’m a Democrat. I’ve been one since I had even the slightest grasp on politics. I didn’t know the label, I just knew what felt right to me. I am for women’s rights, I’m against the death penalty, I’m for helping the poor and generally against war. I’m hardly an extremist and as I age, I am increasingly economically conservative. Also of note, I don’t watch MSNBC or agree with everything said by any given Democrat. And I do my own research on issues, as all voters should.

And on November 6th, I will cast a vote for Barack Obama. And here’s why.

1. Healthcare Reform. If there were no other items on the table, this one would be enough. I have a pre-existing condition. I am a healthcare provider. I have gotten to see from both sides of the table, how very broken our healthcare system is. Do I believe this reform is perfect? Absolutely not. But it is a good first step and it is far superior to the extremely flawed Medicare voucher system proposed by Romney/Ryan. Because of Barack Obama, if my husband loses his job, I can still purchase health insurance. Because of Barack Obama, my child can get and keep insurance if he is ever found to have a condition that would otherwise make him ineligible. President Obama said he would get us healthcare reform and he did. And I am a staunch supporter of Obamacare.

2. Women’s Rights. I need to be clear here- I am personally pro-life. I could not, especially now that I’m a mother, have an abortion unless my life was at risk or my child’s life would be horrific. It’s just not something I could do and I’m beyond thrilled I’ve never had to face that decision. But, just because it is against my personal beliefs doesn’t mean that those beliefs should dictate what any other woman does. I firmly believe that women should have freedom over their bodies and that includes the right to choose whether they carry a child if pregnant. I do not like abortion. I do not want anyone to have one. But I do not believe in legislating what anyone else can do with their body. Mitt Romney has off and on said he would support a measure that would outlaw abortion except in the case of rape or the health of the mother. In a perfect world I agree with Mitt on this, but in this world, one where if we outlaw abortion, people are still going to get them, just less safely, I am politically pro-choice. And sorry, but the antidote to abortion isn’t abstinence only sex education. It’s affordable, accessible birth control and education. Another reason why I support President Obama.

3. I believe Barack Obama has the middle class in mind. I honestly do not think the same can be said for Mitt Romney. I think that what one says when they think no one is listening is the best way to learn what they really think. Mitt Romney’s 47% comment was a major moment for me. I’m in that 47%. We don’t make enough to pay income taxes, but we have taken personal responsibility. We pay other taxes, we work and we contribute to society. I believe that those who have fallen on hard times need our assistance, not our criticism, and I stand strongly in support of government assistance. I believe that it’s shameful for someone who wants to lead this country to store millions of dollars in overseas bank accounts so that they don’t have to pay as many taxes. I cannot even pretend to believe that someone who makes great use of tax loopholes has any intention of closing them. I am part of the 47% and Mitt Romney doesn’t understand who we are, let alone what we need from our president.

Now, notably missing here is the economic recovery and that’s for two reasons.

First, I do not pretend to understand economic issues well enough to feel like I can have a strong opinion on this. I’m a science person, not an economist. I understand supply and demand and a few curves here and there, but that’s where it ends. The bankruptcy of General Motors is so entirely confusing to me that when they start to argue about it, my eyes just completely glaze over until they’ve moved on.

Second, because I’m not foolish enough to believe that the economy will be fixed by one man. The president is a figurehead. He is not the most powerful person in politics because we have a system of checks and balances and a Congress that is more motivated to screw over their counterparts than to do anything productive. I think that the ability to turn around the economy falls much more into the hands of the legislative branch of government and while I have little hope that they’ll work together, I hope that if Obama is re-elected, at least Congressman like Boehner and McConnell can focus on their job instead of on making Obama a one term president, as they said was their main objective two years ago.

I’ve been accused lately of being a sheep, of not knowing the issues, of blindly following my party. None of those are true statements, though I’m too tired to try to prove that to anyone. I have followed this election as closely as my life has permitted and I am confident that my needs, my views and my family are best served with Barack Obama as president for four more years. And that is why I will be voting for him next month. Regardless of whether you agree or disagree, I hope that you’ll go out and exercise your ability to vote for who you feel is the best candidate.

Change cannot happen if we refuse to act, this is our opportunity to lead our country in the direction we believe it needs to go. I’m voting to move forward and I hope you’ll cast your vote too.

Love, Hate and Politics

I have tried to stay out of politics lately because I find myself more and more embittered by what I read. And this week, with “legitimate rape” and other such gaffes, has been no exception. But it’s impossible. I still click on every story and read through the comments. And I’m amazed, constantly, by what I see.

When George W. Bush was president, I was frequently disappointed. I truly feel that he was one of the worst, if not the worst president in history. His literacy seemed tenuous at best, his understanding of political affairs sketchy and his overall attentiveness was worrisome. But as much as he scared me and disappointed me, I never hated him. I mean, I probably at some point said I hated him, but I meant it in the same way I mean it when I say I hate fresh green beans. I would prefer canned, but if given no choice, I’ll eat them. I did not care for Bush’s politics, but as a person, I was indifferent.

Mitt Romney isn’t the guy I want as president. Paul Ryan is really not the guy I want as vice president. I struggle to think that either of them ever have the middle or lower classes, women or minorities in mind in any way, shape or form, but that is beside the point. They will never get my vote. But I do not hate them.

And this is one of the thing I find most curious about politics now. Barack Obama has not accomplished what he wanted and promised to in his first 3 year in office, thanks in large part to the Congress of No. He passed a healthcare bill that has the potential to help millions of children and adults in this country, one modeled after a very successful reform in Massachusetts created by Mitt Romney. He gave orders for the capture of Osama bin Ladin. He has tried to improve immigration reform for teenagers who want to go to college (you know, so they won’t become that horrific drain on society that I hear about endlessly).

He has been far from a perfect president, but I think he has tried incredibly hard to do what is right. And yet, there is a very significant part of this country who hates him. Not like, disagrees with his politics and thinks he’s wrong. Not like hating fresh green beans. They legitimately loathe him as a human being. They compare him to Hitler, they make vague threats on his life. They truly, genuinely hate him.

And I am kind of mystified by this. Bill Clinton was about as morally bankrupt as a guy can be. And yet, he’s still a beloved former president to so many. But Barack Obama, who has done little of offense except inherit an economic disaster that he did not make, is practically Satan in the eyes of conservatives. All you have to do is read the comment section of any news article. Or just read the news. Recently, a former member of Megadeath told an audience in Japan that Barack Obama staged the shooting in Aurora and in Wisconsin. How is that an acceptable accusation to make?

I have tried to find an understanding of this and I don’t want to fall into a trap, but honestly, the only thing I can understand to blame is his race. He’s a family man, he is Christian, he has tried to make social reforms that support families and yet, he is absolutely hated.

Now, let’s be clear. I’m not saying that anyone who disagrees with Barack Obama is a racist, not by a long shot. People who disagree with his politics and legitimately feel that his policies are wrong but don’t make death threats, don’t use racial slurs or other such monikers, are a completely different class. I’m talking about the people who don’t even read through a whole story before commenting about how Obama is bringing about the end of the world, or who just make everything about how evil he is. These are not typical conservatives, but they are alarmingly numerous and loud.

If it is not his race, then what? What would make such a significant portion of this country have hatred for their president? What makes him this special kind of democrat that these republicans cannot even find respect for? What has he done, besides not be a WASP?

I want to be wrong about this and I hope that I am. But until the president does something worth hating, I’m not sure I can believe any other explanation. Because at this point, there is plenty to be frustrated with, things to disagree with, but nothing I have seen that is worth even a fraction of the hate.

An Open Letter to the Majority of North Carolina Voters

Dear the majority of North Carolina voters,

You don’t know me, I’ve never been to your state and very possibly never will. But I feel like you need you to know that you made a huge mistake today.

You should know right off the bat that I am straight and married and I live in a state that made a similarly awful mistake several years ago that we’ve been trying to undo ever since then. We aren’t perfect either, but I’m happy to say that we’ve recognized our mistake and I’m hopeful that you will too.

History is full of people overcoming mistakes like these.

Hundreds of years ago we had slavery and more recently issues with African American suffrage. People fought tooth and nail to keep their slaves, to prevent African Americans from voting. They quoted the bible, they stood on tradition. They felt that they were doing what was right even when others around them knew otherwise. And do you know what happened? Slavery was abolished and African Americans were allowed to vote. Because eventually cooler, more open minds prevailed.

How about women’s rights? For hundreds of years women weren’t allowed to vote, weren’t allowed in the work force. And when women fought for rights, people quoted the bible, they stood on tradition. They felt that they were doing what was right even when others around them knew otherwise. And do you know what happened? Women got the right to vote. They may still not have completely equal rights, but we have come a long way because eventually cooler, more open minds prevailed.

What you voted on today will someday be in history books. Not because it was a good decision, in fact, because it was the opposite. Some day we will be reading about how you tried to withhold equal rights from American citizens. We’ll read about how you quoted the bible, how you stood on tradition. How you felt you were doing what was right even when others around you know otherwise. We’ll see how you’ve stood on Christianity as your justification when in reality Christ would’ve been horrified by the things proponents of this Amendment have said.

You may have voted against equal rights, but you will not win because the rest of us see your mistake. Our laws are not based on your bible and they are not supposed to be. Our laws are based on the constitution which gives all men equal rights.

What you did today was not a victory. It was a tragedy. It was a mistake that is going to take years to undo. It was a shining example of close-mindedness, of hiding hatred behind religion. I just hope that someday soon you realize that you discriminated against your fellow man in the name of God. I hope you realize that in Jesus’ name you offered hate to your neighbor, instead of love.

I look forward to the day that this Amendment gets overturned. To the day when we stop hiding our hatred behind religion. To the day that equal rights are a given instead of a fight.

With great sadness and frustration,