OPEN LETTER TO AMERICA…..
My intent in creating this site is to unite rather than divide so please understand we have to come together. This site is in memory of Jenny who died 10 months ago at the age of 24 along with her unborn baby because she did not have health insurance. Please see Jenny’s page for a greater understanding of why I am here.
Looking Back and Moving Forward
Almost a year ago at this time I was thinking of the warm weather and sunshine, my on-going job search and visiting with family and friends over the summer. I had no idea what was about to happen or how it would change not only my plans, but my life forever.
A health care battle was heating heat up and open discussion was changing into accusations filled with hate and ugliness but I was committed to helping in any way that I could to make our health care system better for everyone. What I didn’t know was that I would become one of the people who would become personally effected and that my family would never be the same again.
It seemed like Summer was never going to get here. The fourth of July was coming and we were hopeful that it would soon be warm enough to wear shorts and sandals. We were looking forward to visiting our kids on the east coast and we were trying to time it to be here for Sean and Jenny’s new babies birth. Jenny was 7 months pregnant and by then we knew she was going to have a little girl. We worried about Jen because she was uninsured. Sean had lost his job and they moved to Chicago hoping to have better luck in his search. He soon learned that jobs here were just as difficult to find and then he heard about a place where he could get training and off they went for this new opportunity in another state.
We tried from the very beginning to get Jenny health insurance but we were turned down because pregnancy is a preexisting condition so we counted the days and months as they passed and she seemed to be doing OK as we all held our breath waiting for a good outcome. On July third everything changed….
July 3rd-The telephone rang and Sean said Jen was not feeling well. He said they had been to the hospital and they were told that Jen had a cold but nothing more. We of course were concerned but felt better that she had been seen by a doctor and they didn’t feel it was anything other than that.
July 4th_Sean called to say Jenny was worse and he was worried. We were over two hours away and felt helpless. There wasn’t a doctor to call because doctors will not see pregnant women without health insurance which is a fact that is little known. He decided to go to another local hospital where he lied to have Jenny examined. He told them that he left his insurance card at home. They examined her and found septic shock, double pneumonia, and respiratory failure. By that night she was on life support where she remained for almost 50 days.
July 5th through August 22nd-We slept at the hospital in chairs or on cots and we were always waiting for the next crisis. During this time Jenny had a heart attack, blood clots, a stroke, a brain bleed and things to horrible to mention here. The baby died during this time frame and we were fighting every single day for what we knew she needed and deserved. We cried and prayed and pleaded but there was little hope. Jenny never lost consciousness unless they induced a coma state for medical purposes. She would nod, blink her eyes for yes and no, cry, put her lips up to be kissed and that was the most heartbreaking part of all…she was aware.
August 15th through August 22nd-Jenny developed pain that could not be controlled regardless of the many medications they had her on. The doctors and nurses could not figure out how she could be awake and in so much pain with all of the medicines in her small body. Her her legs shook violently with the intensity of the pain they could not find. They began to apply pressure to remove Jenny from life support. There was every reason to believe she was suffering and her lungs were destroyed and would not mend. There were many times through the weeks they had to revive her before the terrible pain began and now we prayed God would just take her. There must have been another plan….she hung on. It was difficult getting answers like why didn’t they have a life support ventilator to move Jenny for testing to see what was causing the pain..we asked for weeks and weeks…it came the day before she died. The day came when the head pulmonary doctor sat us down and told us we had to remove her from life support and Sean had to make the decision. Twice he said OK and twice he changed his mind but on the 25th it could no longer be denied and as a family we agreed but Sean needed another day with her. He slept with her that night as he often did. She was comforted by his presence even then. August 26th came all too soon. Sean had to be medicated and Dan and I stood at her bedside. I held her hand and rubbed her head. I whispered words that I hoped would give her some kind of comfort. I won’t tell you more, it’s just too hard to relive.
August 26th at 3:22 ……Jenny died leaving behind a two year old daughter.
Feeling numb I was not sure how to move forward. I heard that there was going to be a candle light vigil in Grant Park for health care reform and something told me a small sign was not enough for the great pain we all felt. I needed a poster sized sign with Jenny’s picture with the words.. She Could Not Wait..
My husband spoke but broke down and we cried most of the way through that event but that began my quest for not only health care reform but for justice for all those who were still suffering from a broken health care system. I encountered the teapartypatriots at a town hall for Lipinski (blue dog who ended up voting against the bill) and while the terrible things they yelled at me that day hurt, it didn’t kill me and it made me stronger and more determined. I rallied, I marched, I attended sit-ins, wrote letters to Washington DC and to our representatives. I did interviews, made videos, appeared on TV, spoke on radio and at the Governors debate. I couldn’t stop. Today June 16th, I am still running. The health care bill passed with great opposition but it was far less than most of us wanted but the miracle was it passed, and for the first time since Roosevelt there were going to be changes. The door has been opened people, maybe just a crack but it is open. Don’t let them close it in your state, it will take ongoing work to make sure the bill is implemented.
As a result, women will no longer be denied health insurance for preexisting conditions like pregnancy…did you hear that Jenny? It won’t bring you back but it will keep other families from the pain we all endured and for me that fight was for you and for others who died without a voice.
So here I am and I know the fight is not over. There are those who would take us backwards and that can’t happen. I was honored to introduce Senator Durbin along with another activist Will Wilson, at his celebration given by Campaign for Better Health Care. Senator Durbin read Jenny’s story on the floor of the Senate in his fight to get the bill passed. The story is not over yet….as I said, I don’t know how to stop so stay tuned and when you think a situation is hopeless remember that every journey started with a single step. Stand Up, Speak Up for what you believe in!
Joe Barton’s apology and a potential GOP trap
Giving the opening statement for Republicans at today’s BP hearing, Rep. Joe Barton (R-Tex.), the ranking member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, vigorously defended the company in the wake of Wednesday’s compromise on an escrow fund to pay for damages from its broken oil well in the Gulf of Mexico.
“It is a tragedy of the first proportion that a private corporation can be subjected to what I would characterize as a shakedown,” said Barton, “in this case a $20 billion shakedown.”
Barton, who holds a safe seat in Texas, is saying what the leading edge of tea partyers and conservatives are saying — no matter whether it’s good politics, his first worry about the response to the disaster is that it will empower the federal government. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) said this to me on Tuesday, and Dick Armey said it to me yesterday when I told him about the $20 billion compromise.
“It fascinates me,” said Armey. “I’m fascinated with it. I’m against it — there is no doubt that BP has resititution to make, but there is something called due process through the legitimate judicial branch of government through which these things should be adjudicated.”
Conservatives are reacting instinctively, and the fact that “pay czar” Ken Feinberg will be running the fund leaves an immediate bad taste in their mouths. But Democrats see an opportunity here to discredit the GOP’s rhetoric in support of small government.
“Not only is the compensation fund that was created yesterday… not a slush fund, and not a shakedown,” said Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) speaking shortly after Barton, “rather it was the government of the United States working to protect the most vulnerable citizens we have in our country right now. It is BP’s spill, but it is America’s ocean.”
By David Weigel |
Congressmen Lipinski, is pro-life and the only IL Democrat to vote NO on health care….
Lipinski, who represents a reliably Democratic seat, is the only Illinois Democrat to oppose health care reform. And he is correct in asserting that the law, at least for now, isn’t incredibly popular. The latest Kaiser Family Foundation survey found that 41 percent of respondents were very or somewhat favorable towards health care reform while 44 percent held negative feelings. Those trends have remained stable over the past several months. Respondents who say they are likely to vote in the midterm elections this November also lean negative in their views on the law. Here in Illinois, Rasmussen suggests that most Illinoisans favor repeal.
At the same time, the polling shows a strong partisan divide. The Kaiser survey found that 72 percent of Democrats held a favorable view of health care while just 14 percent opposed it. (A portion of the latter group are likely critics from the left who are angry that the bill didn’t go far enough.) Republican respondents are even more united, with just eight percent exhibiting favorable feelings toward the bill. “The main effect of health care as an issue [this November],” wrote political scientist Larry Sabato, “would probably be to reinforce voters’ partisan preferences.”
But the real question for Lipinski is this: How will voters feel about it in the spring of 2012, when he could be facing a primary challenge?
Time will only tell on that front. What we do know is that many more of the bill’s reforms will be in effect by then and the accompanying headlines will surely have an effect on public opinion. This year, that includes rebates for Medicare Part D enrollees caught in the “doughnut hole,” a new tax credit for small businesses, and a ban on rescissions and the denial of coverage to children with pre-existing conditions. In 2011, individual and small group market plans will be required to spend 80 percent of premium dollars on medical services.
Now we’re all for legislators taking a stand. But Lipinski’s criticisms of the reform package were patently absurd. The two reasons Lipinski cited for his opposition — that the abortion language and cost controls in the Senate bill were not strong enough — were directly refuted by members from both the pro-life bloc and the fiscally conservative bloc in the Democratic party. This was not a courageous vote; it was intellectually weak and politically cowardly. Moreover, if he had gotten his way, 57,500 people in the 3rd District would not be on their way to gaining access to affordable health care. But we’ll have to wait until 2012 to see what it means for Lipinski’s political future.