It’s a healthcare scandal!

This ad appeared yesterday showing a man who was laid off from his job of many years after a Bain managed buy out and bankruptcy. He eventually found a job as a janitor at half his previous pay, but without health benefits. You know how this day story ends, those of us living from shitty paycheck to shitty paycheck see it all too often. His wife developed undetected cancer, it progressed, until the symptoms were so pronounced he had to take her to an ER. It was too late, she died 24 days later from stage 4 metastatic cancer. The Romney campaign was quick to point what would have saved her though!

The Hill — Mitt Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul cited the Massachusetts healthcare law, which the Obama campaign has called the template for the Affordable Care Act, while attacking a controversial new super-PAC ad. … “If people had been in Massachusetts under Gov. Romney’s healthcare plan, they would have had healthcare,” she added.

Yes, if only there was a national version of Mitt Romney’s successful Massachusetts healthcare plan that would cover everyone. Do’h!

We all know that no healthcare equals needless suffering and, in some cases, needless death. It’s common sensed backed by decades and reams of data. We all know this on  a personal level: I have a friend right now who has methodically lost amost everything she worked for and earned from the age she entered the workfoce, 15, to today when she’s 51 years-old,  because she was laid off a few years ago. She’s gotten some work here and there, but nothing permanent and nothing paying enough to functionally live on. It’s a good thing she had somehow managed to save up a nice chunk of money, and had some bare minimum unemployment insurance extnded for a few months beyond the usual six months. But both have now completely run out.

Last week she discovered she’d been bitten in two places by a brown recluse. If you’ve never searched brown recluse bite in Google images, I have some advice for you, don’t start. The complications can be gruesome. They can be very destructive, fester with opportunistic bacteria fueled by tissue destroying enzymes in the venom that are one notch below Alien acid blood. They often spread, they get infected with staph and other serious pathogens, and in a week or less they can start eating what will soon be giant holes in human beings, in some cases right down to the fascia, bone and internal organs. Sure enough, her’s got infected, they grew to the size of a silver dollar, burst, and begin eating in and spreading out. She was able to scrape together enough to go to a minor ER clinic — at the expence of already over due bills she’s juggling every week now — and get a wide spectrum antibiotic of questionable value. That decision may cost her the eletricity in her place at month’s end, in Texas — in August — while she’s fighting through this injury.

After a week of doing everything she can on her own and taking huge doses of Bactrim both the bites look way better, they look like they are trying to heal, but even if they do they are going to leave horrible, exit bullet-wound like scars. And she’s still not completely out of the woods, the medical literature is full of bites that briefly paused their advance and then progressed with the goriest consequences you can imagine. If that happens she can probably get admitted into a hospital under Medicaid, where she would at least be made comfortable for however long it takes her to survive massive skin grafts and IV antiobiotics, or die from complications of necrotizing fasciatis. If it’s the former she’ll owe thousands for the rest of her life. Even that’s not clear, the benefits are hard to get, they’re very limited, Medicaid now goes thorugh the state and this Rick Perry and Ted Cruz’s libetarian paradise aka Texas! (If it comes to that, I’m going to collect some money from this site, you guys that can afford a few bucks, please don’t let me down, but we’re not there yet and it looks like she may have it under control now). She’s one of my best friends since childhood; I’m sure everyone reading this has a similar story, some with more fleshed out and tragic endings.

So now we have it out in the open. Everyone knew it but now even the millionaire pundits can admit it on national cable news. Lack of healthcare kills people, period. In the US affordable healthcare is mostly, only available through an employer, at least until the horrible socialist government takeover called Medicare kicks in. Losing that job means losing that healthcare. Ergo, losing jobs and not being able to find another with benefits means some of those laid off people will die unless there’s a back up, affordable system independent from employment. Like Romney’s healthcare plan in Massachusetts or Obama’s ACA for the whole nation that was modeled off it. Great! Grotesquely, overpaid media stars and political consultants on both sides can now finally, publicly agree to the harsh, undeniable reality that no one in the real world ever fucking doubted for a second.

It’s a scandal, it’s misery and death, it’s a personal 9-11 every day, now at long last the media can ride to the rescue guns blazing. And they started this morning, on the liberal media centerpice MSNBC via the balance of Morning Joe. Except of course these villagers weren’t interested in rescuing millions of Americans from the healthcare Russin Roulette we are forced to play! No, the gang on Morning Joe was upset about something else, they were a’froth over a different scandal. They opened with some bizarre concern trolling about how the Obama administration should have known this guy in the ad, and therefore the WH is complicit in the ad … and that’s bad — it didn’t make a hell of a lot of sense. This was followed by Joe and Mika and the entire assembled panel whining about how there are democrats in private equity, too, just like Mitt, and they’re going to be offended if layoffs and outsourcing are blamed for loss of healthcare and the death and suffering that comes along with it. Woe is we, our feefees are so so hurt by this! Sob?! (Now, as I finish the piece, wrong way Dan Senor, Mitt Romney adviser and failure spectacular during the Bush admin, and special guest Newt Gingrich join the panel. Gosh, MSNBC, I wonder what Dan and Newt think about the ad?)

Lack of healthcare kills people. Everyone agrees. Mitt Romney took this company over while he was CEO and sole shareholder at Bain Capital. He/they made at least 9 million we know of while he and his Bain pals stripped the company down like the corporate chop shop they are. Then they leveraged the company up with tens of million in debt, took some more money out, and walked away rich while the hollowed out dregs collapsed and the company went out of business and a bunch of poeple got laid off. The loss of health insurance had the same effect we all agree it has on other employees and their dependents who lose their job and can’t find a replacement. They’re forced to gamble with their lives, some of them lose, this guy’s wife was among the losers. The Romney campaign agrees the tragedy might have been avoided if only there was some kind of national healthcare available, which happens to be the exact plan the Romney campaign is blaming and lying about wildly and promising to repeal on their first day in office.

So, yeah, they bear some responsibility when people can’t get healthcare and therefore they bear some responsibility when some of those people suffer and die. It’s just that fucking simple, at least to everyone outside of the Teaparty and the cocktail weenie circuit among the DC media establishment.


  1. Pteryxx says

    Stephen – sounds like she needs help *now* to keep the A/C and lights on; and lack of A/C in Texas in August can kill, too. (I’m in Texas and the prospect’s terrifying.) If you’re taking up a collection I could chip in a pittance by mail.

  2. says

    I’m touched! I really am. I’ll let her know, I bet she’ll be touched. Right now between me and her family and a few good friends we’ve got it covered. She’s also super tough, huge work out fanatic, super fit, and she says can handle the heat. But if it turns worse, if those bites get any worse and it looks like life and death, I may take you up on that. I’ll see if I can get some pics of them and posted them later today. They’re bad.

  3. says

    It’s when I read things like that that I thank the Lord Non-existant that I can retire to the UK (or go there if I lose my job), where it’s not perfect, but things like this can’t happen (even the vile Tories can’t really destroy the NHS—at least I hope they can’t).

    I too would like to ‘do a Pteryxx’, but what worries me about the story (and those like it, where some unfortunate gets publicity and hence help, sometimes loads of money too) is that the help relies on chance rather than need: that there are likely many people in your friend’s position who aren’t noticed, and don’t get what they need.

  4. says

    Yeah, you’re right. Shouldn’t have to depend on blegs or Youtube or local news to get basic healthcare after a serious injury that’s usually completely treatable. She never knew she got bit, but she thinks she knows where it happened. One day there were these two big mosquito bites looking things that burned and itched more tha mosquito bites should. Then they developed concentric rings around the center, a little dot of dying skin in the center sloughed off, and they started to hurt. That’s when she went to the clinic. They stayed the same, maybe got a little bit worse, she started getting a fever, it lasted for about a day, backed off, and in the last three days they started to drain and are trying to scab over. But they still look bad.

  5. says

    I knew that, I just like writing the expression ‘do a Pteryxx’ :-)

    And the personal story (especially if it’s someone you have a connection with, however tenuous) always gets me.

  6. Randomfactor says

    I’d be “in” for ‘doing the Pteryxx’ as well.

    As depicted in “Sicko,” a friend of mine has very good medical insurance, was diagnosed with a serious illness late last year, and is now selling furniture just to make the co-pays. It’s amazing what diagnostic and treatment procedures are considered “elective” in order to maintain the all-important profit line for private insurers. Or how fast 20 percent of a medical bill adds up.

  7. captainahags says

    You know, Newt actually had what I think may have been a brief moment of candor with his “right wing social engineering” comment. Unfortunate that he was forced to do a take-back because of the outcry from the nutjob fringe… Oh wait I mean the entirety of his party.

  8. No Light says

    I’m in the UK and I’m an arachnophobe. Your friend is living my worst nightmare, bitey spiders and no healthcare.

    I’d be happy to chip in via PayPal. I don’t have a lot, but the exchange rate would work to your favour!

  9. lanir says

    I can really sympathize with these kinds of stories. I spent over a decade working at dead end jobs before I got started on my career. In that time I twice had an allergic reaction of some sort that swelled up my throat. I couldn’t afford medical bills either time, working or not. I distinctly recall the awfulness of sitting in the ER waiting room while my throat slowly swelled and my airway shrank and trying to guess if it would get bad enough to be worth checking in. As it turned out neither was life threatening (although I did get treated for both) but they were scary at the time and extra humiliating because I had to explain to the nurse on duty why I was sitting there in her waiting room. I knew I was in the way and inconvenient. I knew I could stiff them for the bill. I didn’t want to.

    In the end I did pay the ER bills. And by 2006 I had finally started on my current career path (the secret seemed to be not telling people I would move to where the job was but to simply be there already – for some reason “job creators” don’t hire you if you’re out of the area and say you’ll move to where the job is). That fizzled out a couple years later and left me largely scrabbling for the next couple years. In early 2011 I got a job near a major metropolitan area at a higher pay rate than anything I’d had before. It was still quite low for the industry I’m in and today I’m making just shy of twice that at an average pay rate for my profession. And you know what? I still have to remind myself to actually use the medical coverage I and my employer pay for. Mostly I still forget. I can’t wait until September 2014 when you and your friend can start to share this particular “problem” with me.

  10. says

    Unfortunately, under current Medicaid policy in Texas, adults will only qualify if they have dependent children in the home age 18 or younger with virtually no income, or are pregnant, or receive SSI. I don’t know yet if Obamacare will extend medicaid coverage in Texas to those who don’t meet the current criteria.


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