Last year Kay and I were passionately fighting for healthcare reform. We signed countless petitions and wrote letters to our Congressmen and to our President. We went to rallies both as supporters of health reform and as protestors of the anti-reform movement. We listened to speeches of candidates and office holders alike. I even made a few. Our initial dream was for a single payer system as personified in John Conyers’ HR676. But as the months wore on Single Payer was dropped and we continued to fight for first a Public Option and later extending Medicare to cover far more people. These efforts failed yet still we were able to bring into being, real (though flawed and diluted) healthcare reform. We call it Obamacare.
One of the many reasons we fought so hard was that we were two of the 45 million Americans who were un-insured. We were insured in the past but realized that while taking a large portion of our monthly income the insurance policy we had would eventually only pay less than half of any major hospital bills we might incur in the future. We canceled the policy and went looking for more reputable insurers. This was when we found that for us they simply did not exist. An agent from Blue Cross Blue Shield came to our home to sign us up. During the interview and application process we were informed that because we both had skin cancers previously removed Blue Cross would never cover either of us for any cancer ever. Then when informed that I had once had mildly high cholesterol which had been lowered successfully with diet and exercise, the agent told us Blue Cross would never cover any heart related condition or event ever. Kay has the mildest of asthma so Blue Cross refused to treat any respiratory ailment of Kay’s ever. Needless to say , we bid the agent a polite farewell.
So there we were healthy (I had never spent any time in a hospital) and active, hoping to stay that way until we would qualify for Medicare.
Every April, 9Healthfair comes to our canyon and to Salida. This year along with my usual blood work, I had a PSA test done. I had it done a few years ago and really knew nothing about it. I didn’t know what PSA was or how it mattered. It was recommended so I said, “Sure go ahead.”
A few days later I received a phone call from 9Healthfair telling me to see my doctor immediately. I had a PSA level of 13. That phone call sent me on a journey that changed my life for ever. I had prostate cancer. I was un-insured. My urologist after reading my biopsy (a process that took two months itself) told us my cancer was aggressive and there was no cure. He said there was an 85% chance the cancer had spread outside my prostate. He shook his head a lot and while giving me treatment options implied I was going to die.
We were shocked, stunned depressed and scared. We knew nothing good of the system and nothing about prostate cancer, where to go for treatment or how we would pay for any treatment we received. The biopsy alone set us back significantly even though the good doctor gave us a deal.
It is now more than six months later. Due to intensive research by my sister Dr. Cindy Parker, my brother-in-law Dr. Steve Shapiro, Kay and myself; Due to incredible support by family, friends and even people we do not know well or in some cases know at all; Due to Obamacare’s Pre-existing Condition Insurance that in Colorado is called GettingUSCovered; Due to one of the nation’s finest surgeons undertaking a new minimally invasive surgery; And due to finally being accepted as a patient at one of Colorado’s premier hospitals I am at least technically cancer free and back to leading a productive life.
As I have written earlier, I believe the corporate right is effectively keeping progressive media on an unequal footing with what has become the NeoCon’s Tea Party Propaganda machine. If an American has access to a television or radio they can and most likely will be subjected to the likes of Fox News, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly or AM radio’s Rush Limbaugh and Michael Savage and a host of other mouth pieces for the likes of Big Oil, Big Health Insurance and the Republican Party. The same is nowhere as true for progressive media. Obamacare’s unpopularity can be easily traced to this problem. The right spins deceit and lies about Obamacare while the left has a much smaller platform to inform the public about what is in the healthcare bill and how Obamacare is saving lives and improving the quality of life for probably millions already and most people in the future.
Here is where we come in. We are poor and definitely not famous. We have very limited media contacts, but we do have a story, we are creative and we can work hard, so we are organizing a group of people to work to bring explanations and defense of Obamacare on a point by point basis and to bring progressive thinking to more people in our region. While our base is the active Democrats of Fremont County we will also be working with people of many diverse disciplines and areas of expertise.
For months we have been nibbling verbally around the edges of this problem, discussing possibilities and obstacles. Now we are beginning to act. On Thursday December 2, 2010 we held our first meeting to begin the hard planning towards increasing our progressive media footprint.
First, Kay and I along with Gloria Stultz and Dick Carney are going to go public with our story and to help show people what Obamacare really is and how it works. It did save my life after all.
Second, we hope to buy a column in the local newspaper (s) that will be dedicated to explaining the new healthcare system on a point by point basis and other progressive issues. We want the column to build into a once a week affair.
Third, we are starting a feasibility committee to look into the possibility of starting up a community radio station in Canon City and any other ways of reaching people through their radios and their computers.