Friday, May 05, 2017

Community means all of us.

When Joey was little and we were just starting out in special education, Joey's teacher told us to always bring a photo of him to the IEP meeting. The point was to make sure that no one lost sight of the fact that Joey was wasn't just a name on a piece of paperwork. He is a human being.

Being me, I made a Powerpoint. I started with slides about who Joey was as a person- what he liked, things he was good at, and lots and lots of pictures. This is the child we are trying to help. Then I laid out what help he needed and what we felt his goals should be.

I still make them for big IEP meetings. It is important. You have to look into that face and tell me why you think he deserves less than anyone else. I no longer have to take those Powerpoints in to the meetings, though.

I take Joey.

This is HIS LIFE. He deserves it, and has the same right to it, as everyone else. The same as you.

Yesterday, the House of Representatives voted to repeal, instead of analyze and refine, the law that gives my Joey the opportunity to have health insurance. In this country, where healthcare is treated as a commodity and luxury for profit, health insurance is an absolute must for everyone. When profit is the bottom line, costs spiral wildly, and every middle man adds his share. This includes the insurance itself- we add our money into a pool, and the more people in the pool, the less the risk per person for anything they might need. The insurance people then invest that money and hope not too many people need too much, because they want to profit. If too few healthy people are in that pool, the whole collapses. Basically, for-profit healthcare is a big pyramid scheme, and people who actually get sick are at the bottom of that pyramid. Without insurance, you go broke when your health hits a hiccup; you may even die from lack of care.

Or people born with issues that insurers see as medically significant. Not all "pre-existing conditions" are from people making mistakes. As we learned before the laws changed to help all people, autism is a significant pre-existing condition. Because it is a pervasive neurological condition, ANYTHING can be connected to it, especially by the insurance company, who seems to think their opinion is far more important than the expertise and opinion of your doctor in what is "medically necessary."

The House bill converts Medicaid to block grants with federal spending cap. That means the long waitlists for people like my son, waiting to get the healthcare assistance they qualify for, will get longer. When that block runs out, people like my son won't be able to access medical care at all.

Let's be clear: If you cannot afford something, you cannot access it. It is not available to you. There are lots of big mansions out there, but they are not available for me to live in, because I cannot afford to pay for one. A weekend at the beach is out of my reach because not only can I not pay for it, but I would need time off from work to go, and transportation to get there. Having life-saving and life-changing technology is useless if those who need it cannot access it.

When we chop healthcare and community supports, we are chopping Joey's opportunity to be an independent person. We restrict the possibility of him becoming a tax-paying member of society; and we need those taxes to help others in our community who need our help.

That is what communities are for. That is what they do. They bring us together so we can all help out. We are all in this together.

This is the young man you want to throw away, because he is autistic. He has a pre-existing condition, and thus can be denied health insurance, and thus denied healthcare access.

If you think my son, and people like him, are a waste of your tax dollars, I recommend re-evaluating your ideas of community and morality. After all, we should have learned long ago that we all get sick, we all grow old, and we all die. If you think you can face that all alone, without the human community, you are in for a very rude awakening.