This Thursday, July 30, marks the 50th anniversary of the enactment of Medicare and Medicaid, and for me it’s a deeply personal occasion, made all the more poignant by its placement very close to the sixth anniversary of my kidney transplant. Because this is so personal to me, rather than simply discuss the history of these programs or discuss facts and figures relating to their status today, I want to talk about my personal experience with them, and tell you why they mean so much to me.
At the time that I was diagnosed with end stage kidney failure, I was working part-time for a science education facility and as a part-time actor, going to college part-time, and was a full-time care provider for the two greatest kids in the world: my niece and nephew. My sister and her husband both had to work full-time to support their family, so I was living in their basement and helping pay rent while taking care of the kids. None of these things gave me access to health insurance. But I qualified for both Medicare and Medicaid (one of the small number of circumstances which makes a person younger than normal Medicare eligibility age eligible is end stage kidney failure).
Without these programs, I wouldn’t be here today. That’s a statement that makes some people uncomfortable, and they try to dispute it, because they consider programs like these “socialism”, which in their minds is a term with no degrees or nuance and therefore any kind of social program automatically equals a full-scale Stalinist regime that oppresses its people and murders anyone who disagrees with them. The people who think this way refuse to consider the idea that Medicare and Medicaid were essential to keeping me alive, and sometimes they’ll attempt to give explanations for how I could have gotten the lifesaving healthcare I needed without it. Most of these ideas involve forms of charity, and since I did receive help from charitable donations many people still think that’s why I survived. I certainly benefitted from charity, and would never dismiss it’s importance. Friends, family and colleagued organized fundraisers, and had a far beyond average degree of success. But all of the various fundraising efforts ended up totaling about $10,000 to help me. Of course this is amazing and wonderful, and the financial burden without them would have been severe. This money helped to pay the share of the medical bills still left, and most importantly helped compensate for the temporary absence of the money I would have been bringing in if I could still work. The surgery wouldn’t have been worth much if I didn’t have a place to live while waiting for it and recovering from it (as I mentioned before, though I was living with family I was paying rent and contributing to other expenses. The lack of my paycheck took a big chunk away from an entire family, not just me). But it’s important to understand that this was a $79,000 surgery. And I required an additional surgery to remove my infected original kidneys. And after that, there was the matter of the anti-rejection medications I’ll have to take for the rest of my life. The cost of these per month roughly equals the cost of renting a two bedroom apartment in Los Angeles. While I'm blessed to belong to a church that goes above and beyond to help its members, does anyone really think the Church could have paid for a $79,000 surgery? Help for members comes through Fast Offerings, and what ward has $79,000 in its Fast Offerings fund?Read more
As a Democrat I should love Donald Trump. His style and self-absorbed attitude entertains a powerful faction of the far-right movement which creates problems for the conservative core. He is a one-man wrecking ball; targeting his attacks on any individual that opposes him which includes most of the 2016 Republican field. His rhetoric is sharp and overtly hyperbolic and his methods are intrusive and borderline comical. Trump has cornered the market on ridiculousness and amazingly this message is resonating at light speed with many in the Republican base. Trump hurts Republicans chances in 2016, which is welcomed by Democrats, but he is also reinforcing a false narrative about key issues.Read more
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The LDS Dems Caucus is still waiting for expanded healthcare. Today, we request our state legislators do the right thing, right now, and bring greater access to healthcare to our most vulnerable Utahns. As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and as Democrats, we support this compassionate, common-sense program, and we call on the Utah Legislature to pass it right now.
Healthy Utah will eliminate the coverage gap. Establishing Healthy Utah isn’t only the right thing to do, it is the smart thing to do. Healthy Utah is estimated to create an economic boon of some $874 million to our state.
We call upon the “Gang of Six” to honor the July 31st deadline set for reaching a decision, and express our disappointment in the failure of House Speaker Greg Hughes and House Majority Leader Jim Dunnigan to enact Healthy Utah. Healthy Utah is supported by the vast majority of Utahns. With their inaction, the “Gang of Six” are not only violating the will of their own constituents, but they are ignoring hundreds of leaders from the civic, business, religious and medical communities.
We echo the position of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Saints that the problem of the coverage gap “deserves the best thinking and efforts from both the public and the private sectors.” We ask the “Gang of Six” to consider the devastating effects of continued delay to those without healthcare coverage.
As Mormons, we strive to live as emissaries of Christ. Providing healthcare assistance to disadvantaged families is part of our Christian duty. We believe that increased access to healthcare helps Utah families reach self-reliance. Indeed, as our own Church leaders said last December: “the lack of access to health care can impair a person's ability to provide for self and family.” Healthy Utah is exactly the prescription that Utah needs and it is already three years too late. The time to act is now.
LDS Democrats (LDS Dems) is an official caucus of the Utah Democratic Party, and part of the national organization, LDS Democrats of America. Just three years old, LDS Dems is the largest caucus inside the Utah Democratic Party with more than 4,500 members. More info at ldsdems.org.
This guest post comes from Kathryn Oviatt, an Alberta-based attorney.
June 20, 2015 marked the ten-year anniversary of marriage equality in Canada. Six days later, the U.S. Supreme Court made its historic ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, giving LGBT Americans the same marriage equality rights as their northern neighbours. Some critics of the SCOTUS decision point to Canada as a warning sign of the kinds of limits on religious freedom and freedom of expression to come.Read more
A copy of a letter I sent to my Bishop & Stake President in advance of the letter regarding the SCOTUS ruling on marriage equality that was directed to be read out in Branches and Wards of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on either 07/05/15 or 07/12/15.
As this is the month of July, and the 4th of July is upon us, and the anniversary of the United States declaring independence, and forming a new country, based on freedoms and liberty, I thought it would be nice to view some keys points in both the Political, and Spiritual factors of this time of year for Americans. I think on the Garth Brooks song “We shall be free”. If you are unfamiliar with it, I would advise looking it up and or listening to it, and pay close attention to the lyrics, and the truth behind them.
I realized the predicament the Republican Party was in when I got into a heated conversation with a close relative. I had just read James McPherson’s Pulitzer-winning book Battle Cry of Freedom and was curious to find out what side a close relative sided with.
"How can you not side with Lincoln?" pointing out Lincoln's accomplishments. “Would you rather have our great nation divided into fifty countries?”
To my astonishment my question was met with a resounding, “Yes!”Read more