Having spent a few months processing my grief both privately and out loud (here and here and over on The Mighty [and now Medium] ) and a few weeks trying to bite my tongue about healthcare legislation, I finally grabbed a rock, a slingshot, and took aim at a modern day Goliath: the American Health Care Act recently passed by the House of Representatives.
This was something that I promised to do some day, to take what Mom and I learned about eldercare and use those lessons for good. She said to wait until I was ready, when an opportunity presented itself.
Thus, from the Rivard Report, our city’s news-driven indie, comes today my first published op-ed in over a decade:
Mother’s Day looms now, my first without her. As I work through my grief and memories, I catch stories about what Republicans in Washington think we should do to care for elders and other people with disabilities. I also find myself revisiting my darkest hours with my mother and wondering: “Could it have been so much worse?”
Yes. It could be worse. Not for my mother and I, because our time together is over, but it could become worse for families like ours.
Early reports indicate that the bill that the House of Representatives passed this week puts a cap on long-term Medicaid spending. Over time, this will lead to a widening gap between costs and funding, leaving people like my mother potentially endangered. I’m not surprised this passed. Fresh from “walking my mother home,” to riff on the words of spiritual leader Ram Dass, I’m sensitive to what lies ahead for Americans and our financial resources, especially as Baby Boomers age. Medical technology and intensive daily personal care helped extend my mother’s life, and Medicare/Medicaid funded it.
But can we realistically do that for everyone? And if we cap or draw down spending, who is most impacted?
Everything I have to say–including some grim truths I’ve never shared publicly about my mother’s specific case–is summed up in the rest of the piece save for this: The sustainable solutions that living, breathing elders (and soon-to-be elders) like her need will require forward-thinking, post-partisan (or at least bipartisan) solutions that I have yet to encounter in my reading about the bill. As Jimmy Kimmel said in the wake of his newborn son’s healthcare crisis, “Let’s stop with the nonsense, this isn’t football there are no teams. We are the team, it’s the United States.”
Amen. There is no need for political theatrics, either.
Here’s hoping the Senate does better than Congress.* In fact, both of my Senators (Ted Cruz and John Cornyn – both Rs) are reportedly part of the core group of 13 men looking at the Senate’s forthcoming healthcare legislation.
* For the record, my congressman (Will Hurd-R) switched his stance at the last minute and voted against AHCA. This is what I and many others in his purple district asked him to do the morning of the vote. Small victories matter.