Mike McMahon is a Staten Island boy. Staten Island is the most conservative borough in NYC. We put Rudy Giuliani and Mike Bloomberg (the lesser of two evils) over the top twice. We're loud and obnoxious at times and our reps know EXACTLY how we feel about things. Some of our town meetings make British parliament look tame.
Mr. McMahon took awhile to figure out how he was going to vote on the healthcare bill. He wants reform (as do we all), but our situation in Staten Island is a precarious one when it comes to healthcare, especially for our poorer members.
In the end, he voted a resounding NO!!! Just like the majority of Staten Island wanted him to do.
I emailed him to thank him for his vote because even a democrat needs encouragement to do the right thing.
This was his response:
Dear Mrs. [Mommynator],
Thank you for contacting me regarding health care reform legislation.
On March 21, 2010 the House of Representatives voted to approve the Senate health care bill, H.R. 3590, by a vote of 219-212. On March 23, 2010, the President signed the Senate health care bill into law. H.R. 4872, a package of changes to the new health care law, was passed by the Senate on March 25, 2010 by a vote of 56-43, passed by the House later that day by a vote of 220-207, and signed into law by the President on March 30, 2010.
After reviewing the legislation and discussing its local and national impact with nurses, doctors, and other health professionals, I ultimately decided that I could not vote for this bill. I have long been in favor of health care reform that brings down costs and makes coverage more affordable and accessible to all Americans. However, this bill as written was not the way to reform our health care system because of the impact it could have on our district hospitals and our seniors.
As you may know, our district has no public or city hospitals. Staten Island, in fact, is the only borough in New York City without one. I fear that the changes proposed to the disproportionate share hospitals (DSH) reimbursement rates will cut millions from our local hospitals at a time when they can least afford it. This health care package will hurt Richmond University Medical Center and Staten Island University Hospital, with an estimated loss of $25 million and $45 million, respectively from DSH payments. Maimonides and Lutheran Medical Center in Brooklyn will also be affected, with estimated DSH cuts totaling approximately $112 million and $70 million, respectively. I am hopeful that these cuts can be reversed at a later time, but without the assurance that these funds will be restored, I could not vote for a bill that might lead to another hospital closure in our district. These bills also fail to address adjustments in the rate of payment doctors get and may cause many to no longer accept Medicare and Medicaid. Further, the package reduces Medicare Advantage on which 40% of our seniors rely and cuts Medicare overall by over $400 billion.
Despite my decision to vote against this legislation, I remain committed to health care reform that works. I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to fix our health care problems and lower costs for all Americans. You should also know that there is much in this bill that I support. This reform package expands coverage and bans insurance companies from denying insurance to someone with a pre-existing condition. It will allow children to stay on their parents' plans until age 26. It will provide an annual cap on out-of-pocket expenses, thus preventing people from going into bankruptcy to pay for health care. And the insurance exchanges will provide the same quality insurance options available to Members of Congress and their staff. These are all good provisions that should be supported broadly across our community.
When I ran for Congress, I pledged to be an independent voice for Staten Islanders and Brooklynites and to work together with my colleagues in a bipartisan manner. However, partisan games, political divisions, misinformation campaigns and incriminations were not what our Founding Fathers intended. Our country is facing tremendous challenges, from rising deficits and wars in Afghanistan and Iraq to aging infrastructure and budget gaps in our City. As your Member of Congress, I will meet the challenge to get our Country's deficit under control and our fiscal house in order.
Again, thank you for taking the time to contact me regarding this important issue. Please feel free to get in touch with my office in the future if I can be of any assistance to you on this or any other matter of concern. I hope you will find my website - www.mcmahon.house.gov - a useful resource for keeping up with events in Washington and the 13th District of New York.
Michael E. McMahon Representative for the 13th District of New York
Direct quote from a memo from my husband's company:
"We are all aware of the economic challenges and we have been forced to make changes to our health insurance contribution.
Effective March 25, 2010 the health insurance contribution will be increased to 30% of the total premium. (Employee/Spouse was $50.00, changed to $74.57 per week.)
Please be aware our health insurance plan will renew September 2010. If there is any increase (which there always has been) the full increase will be passed on to the employees.
When times have been good, we have always spread it around with extra paychecks, bonuses and profit sharing. (this is 100% true of this company, BTW) Now that times are bad, we need to also spread it around so we can keep our jobs. Unfortunately, we cannot say this will be the only change.
Thank you for your understanding."
Here's hope'n'change for a company that has always done what's right by its employees.
The mood in the hospital today was the gloomiest I've ever experienced. God only knows what changes we'll be forced to make, what cuts and pain. I already know of several doctors who will retire - good doctors with decent hearts.
Congratulations to all the purists out there who turned down decent if imperfect presidential candidates.
Back when Pat Robertson started the 700 Club, he brought a freshness to the faith, with many possibilities that had not been preached before. He was a great encouragement to people going through very hard times. I parted company with his thinking when he decided to be more political and made it seem that the New Heaven and New Earth could be brought about by working real hard and through political means.
Having said that, I do think that the criticism of his remarks is unfair, even if he expressed himself clumsily.
Was God out of line when He confused the languages at Babel? They were guilty of beginning to consider themselves equal to God, worshiping themselves and their works rather than their Creator.
Was God out of line when He destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah? They are still a byword for perversion of all sorts, and all the other evil that goes with such lawbreaking. They were destroyed by God because they were considered unredeemable.
Was God out of line when He warned His own beloved, Israel, of the consequences of following after other gods and practicing things He expressly told them would ruin them? How many times were they made captive? How many times were they scattered over the earth because they could not be allowed to live in the land God promised because of their sin?
Was God out of line to kill the worshipers of the golden calf? Ananias and Sapphira for lying to the Holy Spirit to make themselves appear better than they were?
What exactly are the warnings in the Bible of punishment for continued and deliberate pursuit of sin?
Why are people ignoring the fact that the majority of Haiti's population pursued voodoo and other occult practices, which are definitely and strictly forbidden by God? Can you truly say that their poverty and difficulties were without cause? That maybe it was God's attempt to reach them, and they ignored Him?
In all the examples I've listed, were not innocent people made to suffer as well as the guilty?
I will not minimize the suffering, and will be contributing towards their help. I only wish I had some kind of nursing credential to be able to make the trip there to do whatever possible.
But before everyone gets all high-horsy, before everyone loses sight of God's mercy and also His justice and patient attempts to woo us to Him, think. Take five minutes to consider this.
Okay, now lob your missiles at me. I expect it because this is not a popular train of thought. I'm sure the bile will flow out of the woodwork onto me.
Life just sometimes flies by, doesn't it? My last post was supposed to deal with some of the ethical issues of modern medical technology and then school started, and a few family doings and . . . squirrel!!!! (Make sure you see the movie coming out on DVD soon, UP! and you'll get that if you don't already.)
So one of the major chapters we studied this semester is homeostasis. Homeostasis is a collection of organs, glands and interconnected systems that allow the body to keep itself alive by keeping everything it does and produces within certain narrow ranges. For example, blood's normal pH is between 7.35 and 7.45. Anything below, and you become acidotic, anything above and you become alkalinic. If that happens, your body has various mechanisms to bring itself back to the correct pH range. Your stomach acid is between 1 and 3 on the pH scale. Your mouth and esophagus is about 7.4. If your stomach acid erupts into your esophagus, not only do you have a nasty taste, but your esophagus is not equipped with massive mucous membranes to protect itself, sometimes leading to erosive esophagitis which can lead to cancer. The first part of the small intestine coming off the stomach is the duodenum, and there are bicarbonates shoved into that to deal with the acidity of the bolus after the stomach is done churning your food. Any disruption of that system, and you get duodenal ulcers. Blood glucose levels need to be below 150 to be within normal range. You need a certain percentage of red and white blood cells to make sure that your body gets oxygen and nutrition and fights off invaders.
Most of medicine deals with trying to restore these balances when the body can't quite do it. Over the millenia, people have used herbals and other remedies to restore homeostasis. And that's why people take most medications these days (some derived and refined from the herbals) - hypertension medications, insulin and other diabetic medications, things to block various chemicals the heart uses to stimulate the heartbeat that get out of line. Surgeries, chemotherapies and radiation for cancers. Go down the list of people you know with various and sundry ailments, diseases, conditions and syndromes, and think about what their prescribed therapies are attempting to accomplish.
And this is just in the course of normal life and aging. You can eat right, exercise modestly and be moderate in all your other habits, and still have stuff happen that needs outside interference from the medical world. That's part of this world having fallen from is Edenic state. Our genetic code has deteriorated, our systems are out of whack, our environment not pristine. But our bodies still do an amazing job of keeping things going within certain narrow ranges.
Now imagine all the things seen in ambulances, ERs and clinics from what people do to themselves when they abuse things and forget that their bodies can only take so much and correct so much. Alcoholism. Drug abuse. Certain sexual practices never intended to be normal. Starving/vomiting. Cutting. Not eating right or getting enough rest. You name it, and eventually it ends up in the hospital where dozens of doctors, nurses and others will try to restore . . . homeostasis - as close to the normal state of the body as possible after damage.
What we tend to lie to ourselves about is that the moral world has its own homeostasis. People don't want to hear about it. They want to do what they want, whenever they want, and not have to deal with any consequences. Why should moral homeostasis be any different from physical homeostasis?
I've always believed that God gave us His laws to keep us morally within certain limits both to benefit ourselves and those around us. Thus all my appetites and emotions need to be kept within certain bounds in order for true enjoyment to occur without hurting myself or others. It's why God instituted marriage, feasting/fasting, mourning/celebrating as boundaries to keep our normal day-to-day lives balanced and working about as right as they can in this fallen world.
People who abuse all the good things available to us in this life unfortunately end up with broken bodies, broken minds, warped spirits and destruction. Eventually. When the limits are surpassed enough.
When bad things happen to good people, it is the fact that they have chosen the boundaries God set that helps them get through this. People who abuse the boundaries either learn their value or are lost to themselves, their families and friends and sometimes (and unfortunately) to God.
Look up homeostasis some time and do the reading. It is amazing and fascinating and awe inspiring. The more I know, the more I realize how God loves us and His creation, and why He wants to reconcile this world and us to Him through Christ's death.
I got off the phone this morning with one of the sleep technicians after she told me her husband had just died. His stage IV cancer was diagnosed only about four months ago and was unresponsive to all therapies as it had metastasized to all over his body.
How, one asks, could he get to stage IV lung cancer without a clue?
Well, that's the 64 million dollar question.
It seems that Mr. R ignored symptoms, thought they were something else and never availed himself of the opportunity to catch his cancer early. I won't be too overly critical, because who hasn't in the heat of life's busyness ignored things like symptoms, blaming them on fatigue and stress? And then only paid attention when everything falls apart.
Well, as a public service, I'd like to remind each and every reader of this blog that you are important. You are important to your friends, family, co-workers, and other social networks. You are important to yourself. You're even important to the people on this blog and we would miss you terribly if you ignored things to your personal peril.
So here is a list of things you should not ignore no matter how busy you are, simply because you are important and your place cannot be filled.
Prolonged fatigue that does not seem to go away no matter how much sleep or rest you get, or how well you eat or in the presence of vitamin supplements.
Prolonged respiratory symptoms, especially a cough that won't go away. Even if you "just" had a cold, and you're still coughing after two weeks, get yourself to a doctor. It could be as simple as bronchitis (which in and of itself is no joke) to asthma to other disorders.
Chest tightness and/or pain with or without sudden severe fatigue. Don't even try to explain it away. Get it diagnosed properly. It could be your heart, it could be asthma, it could be high blood pressure. Check it out. Especially you women - heart disease does present the same way as in men (chest pain radiating down the arm). Women are more likely to have their heart disease misdiagnosed although because of intense education efforts (Go Red), doctors and hospitals are more aware of this.
Sudden dizziness and/or brief blackouts. This could be symptomatic of everything from blood sugar irregularities to transient ischemic attacks (TIAs, which are tiny strokes that could lead to a large one) to seizures.
Long term numbness and/or tingling in any of the extremities. See above.
Unexplained weight gain or loss. If you're still eating the same way, you need to figure this out.
Likewise, unexplained changes in your bowel habits.
Changes in moles, specifically if they suddenly start growing, have irregular borders and/or exhibit many colors in a single mole.
If you're stressed and/or possibly depressed, get yourself checked out. If it's "just" depression that's not going away, there are short term therapies that can help you start functioning normally again.
You get the idea. Don't keep blaming your busy life. MAKE SURE EVERYTHING IS OKAY.
And reach out to your friends and family, your house of worship (if you have one) and blow off steam. In fact, there are people here who have plenty of empathy and wisdom about dealing with stuff. Talk to us if worse comes to worst.
And if you get some medical news that you're not sure you understand, make sure to nag your doctor until you do understand. And if you still don't understand, throw it at me and I can find things out for you.
Please, folks. Take care of yourselves. I know we all have to die some day, but let's try to put that off (God willing) as long as we can.