Perspective

This is from 2009:

They came for new teeth mostly, but also for blood pressure checks, mammograms, immunizations and acupuncture for pain. Neighboring South Los Angeles is a place where health care is scarce, and so when it was offered nearby, word got around.

For the second day in a row, thousands of people lined up on Wednesday — starting after midnight and snaking into the early hours — for free dental, medical and vision services, courtesy of a nonprofit group that more typically provides mobile health care for the rural poor.
Like a giant MASH unit, the floor of the Forum, the arena where Madonna once played four sold-out shows, housed aisle upon aisle of dental chairs, where drilling, cleaning and extracting took place in the open. A few cushions were duct-taped to a folding table in a coat closet, an examining room where Dr. Eugene Taw, a volunteer, saw patients.
When Remote Area Medical, the Tennessee-based organization running the event, decided to try its hand at large urban medical services, its principals thought Los Angeles would be a good place to start. But they were far from prepared for the outpouring of need. Set up for eight days of care, the group was already overwhelmed on the first day after allowing 1,500 people through the door, nearly 500 of whom had still not been served by day’s end and had to return in the wee hours Wednesday morning.
The enormous response to the free care was a stark corollary to the hundreds of Americans who have filled town-hall-style meetings throughout the country, angrily expressing their fear of the Obama administration’s proposed changes to the nation’s health care system.






100 replies
  1. 1
    MattF says:

    I guess the basic fact is that ‘health care’ is a scarce commodity– if you’ve got it, you protect your position and try to prevent anyone who doesn’t have it from getting any– if you haven’t got it… you just do your best.

  2. 2
    mai naem says:

    For all these people who talk about people mooching off the gubmint, I know people who couldn’t come up with money for a physical they needed to apply for/start their job. There’s a set of people who’ve always worked in a situation where they had insurance. I know, literally, dozens of people who work and cannot get coverage through work and go without necessary medical care. You can get on Arizona’s version of medicaid if you have minor kids or short term if you are ill or unemployed. Otherwise, you have to have <$2000 in savings. Savings include some form of retirement savings. Screw the teabaggers.

  3. 3
    rikyrah says:

    WHO would have thought..

    As insane as I think the GOP was…

    that they would DELIBERATELY HURT people in their OWN STATES by having GOP GOvernors refusing to expand Medicaid.

    And, refusing to set up the state exchanges.

    WHO actually thought that the feds would ultimately be responsible for setting up HALF THE EXCHANGES because the GOP Governors refused to do so?

    WHO actually thought these mofos were that fucking evil?

    I had a low opinion of them, but even I was shocked at the extent of their fucking evil in condemning their working poor to lives without health insurance.

    Always remember:
    the feds asked for 5 billion for the rollout…got one billion.

    do you not remember Sebelius being forced to go to the healthcare industry for money for the rollout?

    do you not read the reports from the states where these GOP evil asses are doing everything they can to put up roadblocks for those folks who have chosen to go out there and help people sign up for Obamacare?

    but, I guess it’s too much for the MSM to do their JOB and include all these not so small facts in their ‘ oh no, Obamacare is a disaster because of website glitches’ stories.

  4. 4
    aimai says:

    Yup. And Yup. And this is why the hysteria over the roll out is so incredibly misplaced. If you are poor and underserved in this country sitting and staring at a blank screen for a few hours is literally the least of your problems. I think its important to realize that this may be the first time that low income and despised uninsured Americans have EVER been treated as though they were entitled to ordinarily good service. It has me almost doubled over with laughter thinking of the righteous outrage that Ezra Klein and others are expressing over “wait times” and imperfect user interfaces. For fuck’s sake there are people out there who would stand in line for two days to get teeth extracted on a folding bed with a few cushions taped to it because of the daily pain they have been in from untended teeth. Don’t people grasp that the woman who lost her 9 year old boy to an absessed tooth because she couldn’t scrape together the money for dental care would have stayed on line or called the fucking phone number if she’d had any inkling anyone would care and help her?

    The amazing post below this one about the astonishing amount of privilige that Ezra and others are showing is just 100 percent on point.

    44 million people need health care and they have to access health insurance to get it. Its going to be messy in its implementation but at least the goal is something fan fucking tastic. Megan McCardle sat on line for 24 hours to get a new iphone and she was bought off with a few bottles of free water to soothe her tortured soul. Maybe Ezra et al would be placated if the ACA delivered choclates and flowers to everyone who had to wait a few hours to fill their papework? I’m betting that in that moment all these upper class twits would revert to the other old standby “I can’t believe that poor people feel entitled to first class treatment!” It will be obamaphones and free steak night for welfare moms all over again.

  5. 5
    Kay says:

    @rikyrah:

    This is a bit of a myth. I was looking at community health centers, which were greatly expanded under Obamacare and are huge in conservative districts.
    Republican House members and Senators appear at these places and crow about how great they are. They’ve been doing this since 2009. They don’t mention Obamacare at all. Portman in Ohio has done this, in Cleveland.
    Our belief that their voters understand that conservatives are “hurting” their own constituents doesn’t take into account the divide between what conservatives say nationally (which is what we hear, because we follow politics) and what they say when they go home, locally.

  6. 6
    rikyrah says:

    Michelle Obama shows she’s still got her husband’s back
    10/25/13 07:15 PM
    By Morgan Whitaker

    President Obama has a strong ally while he works through the bumpy rollout of his signature policy achievement: his wife.

    First lady Michelle Obama hit the fundraising circuit Friday to help give her husband the Democrat-controlled Congress that could help him further his agenda, and didn’t shy away from blasting her husband’s opponents for shutting down the government in an ultimately fruitless attempt to stall or stop the Affordable Care Act Friday.

    “So when a small group of folks in Congress shuts down our government to try to shut down Obamacare, and we watch as our president stands strong, that’s not just some political fight in Washington,” she said at the Women’s Leadership Forum Conference in DC. “It is a battle about our most fundamental values and aspirations.”

    “If you don’t like seeing folks in state government trying to undermine Obamacare or chip away at women’s rights and women’s health, then I urge you—let’s not just sit around feeling angry or helpless or hopeless, especially not [as] women,” she said. She encouraged members of the audience to write a “big old check” to help.

    “The fact is that right now we are just 17 seats away from taking back the House–yes, 17. But they are 17 hard seats,” she said. “And we’re just six seats away from losing the Senate. And that’s how close these midterm elections are. And we all know that it’s not enough to elect Barack Obama if we don’t give him a Congress that will help him keep moving this country forward.”

    She also extolled the benefits of Obamacare.

    http://www.msnbc.com/politicsn.....-bat-potus

  7. 7

    If you’ll post it, I’ll make the time to write it:

    My wife had cancer in 1994. The small business where she worked at the time lost their insurance over it. She hasn’t been insured for 19 years. The only bright spot: the indications that your leukemia is back for more include full-body bruising and blood coming out your ears when you floss, so at least we haven’t spent the decades wondering if something was lurking that regular followups might have found.

    I have melanoma, the cancer that lurks. I’m now on a followup schedule that continues until I die of something else or the lurking semi-solid cells that are statistically likely to be somewhere in my body hit a switch and start to multiply again.

    Our business has never been big enough to offer insurance–we knew from 1994 that plans to cover fewer than 50 people wouldn’t pay out or would take the premiums and run if we ever made a claim, so we didn’t bother to offer our people the option to make Blue Cross richer in order to feel better before they were sick.

    Two critical points:
    -In the past 4 weeks, I have received 5 resumes from exactly the kind of people we would like to hire more of. All say they’ll be available around the 1st of the year. Demographically they’re very different from the resumes I’ve seen over 15 years in this business. They’re younger and looking for fewer hours doing something they already know is hard in ways they enjoy. They can afford to leave Big Ugly Death Star Corp. because they can buy health insurance.
    -I was diagnosed in Sept. 2011. Because my state had already implemented the part of the ACA that requires insurance companies to continue policies at similar rates EVEN IF the individuals on them make claims–not something we expected after our earlier experience–I’m still insured. We’re going to buy an exchange plan that puts our family on one deductible and OOP max, for the first time ever, next week.

    The technical issue we discovered with the web site was after applying: whoever coded the citizenship for adopted people section of the eligibility database chose the wrong field type for the only way our government has to verify my kid’s here legally. So we have to talk to a manager with superpowers before we can choose among the 57 (!) options to get our family covered.

    As a parent, a spouse and a small business owner, I would carry the Congresscritters and President who got us these solutions across a river of acid on my back to keep them.

    Must be nice to be so rich and healthy that you just don’t get how minor the bugs in the app are.

  8. 8
    Violet says:

    @rikyrah:

    WHO would have thought..

    As insane as I think the GOP was…

    that they would DELIBERATELY HURT people in their OWN STATES by having GOP GOvernors refusing to expand Medicaid.

    The better question is, “Who wouldn’t have thought it?” Hurting the poor, the less-advantaged, the “other” is exactly what the Republicans do. Deliberately. I expect it from them.

  9. 9
    Dead Ernest says:

    Even though I take care of an Underserved group of patients, thus feel like I have a sense of how limited many folks options are obtaining health care, I volunteered when a Natl group set up a two-day free clinic in Kansas City. Despite what I thought I knew, the terrific number of people, and the state of their health was still astounding, sad, painful.

  10. 10
    aimai says:

    @PhoenixRising: Congratulations to you PR and thanks for writing this. My heart was absolutely in my mouth as I read it.

  11. 11
    Percysowner says:

    @mai naem:

    You can get on Arizona’s version of medicaid if you have minor kids or short term if you are ill or unemployed. Otherwise, you have to have <$2000 in savings. Savings include some form of retirement savings. Screw the teabaggers.

    A friend has this problem. He has mental health issues and hasn’t worked reliably in years. His mental health providers won’t certify that he is unable to work, so he can’t go on disability. He has an IRA/SEP that he wants to hold onto so he can retire without being destitute. So he can’t get on Medicaid because of his assets. The ones that the Repubs and the doctors said were better than having a real pension. The ones he can’t touch without paying penalties and extra taxes. I actually don’t know where this puts him in respect to the ACA. He’s in Ohio and Governor Kasich has just done an end around the legislature in order to get Medicare extended, but I don’t know whether my friend’s retirement assets will be counted against him or not.

    Now Kasich is a jerk ion almost every other issue, but I do appreciate that he is trying to save the state money and insure more people.

  12. 12
    Kay says:

    @rikyrah:

    36 conservative congresspeople have gone home and taken credit for Obamacare funding community health centers without mentioning Obamacare.
    Paul Ryan is one of them.
    So why don’t their voters hold them accountable for denying people health care? Because what they say in national media and in political outlets is different than what they say in their home states and districts.
    This has always been so, BTW. Bob Dole voted against Medicare and well into the 1990’s he was saying he was RIGHT!
    Dole got the political benefit of Medicare, with none of the risk.

  13. 13
    Amir Khalid says:

    @mai naem:
    I’m surprised to hear about this. In Malaysia, before you start a new job the employer pays for your physical exam. It counts as part of the obligatory employer-provided outpatient care.

  14. 14
    aimai says:

    @Kay: I wish that they has slipped into the ACA bill that everywhere ACA money or the legislation is used has to come with a huge stamp “Thanks to the ACA and President Obama” and that the clinics had to hang such a poster at every opening. It would keep the republicans away like garlic does vampires.

  15. 15
    rikyrah says:

    @Kay:

    Kay,

    you don’t have to tell me this.

    That story from Kentucky with the guy signing up and getting insurance through the Kentucky State Exchange, and bragging

    ‘ this is so much better than Obamacare’,

    and NOBODY minded to inform this clown that THIS IS OBAMACARE.

    But, the bottom line is…the working poor who would have gotten coverage through the Medicaid expansion will not because of GOP evil asses. MILLIONS will be denied the sense of relief knowing that they have coverage.

    I know that Bernie Sanders (yes, socialist Bernie Sanders) is responsible for that poor person in a Red County getting their clinic….but these folks don’t, and the GOP who didn’t provide one fucking vote for Obamacare, or any of the benefits, shouldn’t be able to stand there and take credit like they actually voted for this. If it were up to their GOP critter, those folks would be dying in the streets,and they wouldn’t give a fuck.

  16. 16
    rikyrah says:

    @Kay:

    36 conservative congresspeople have gone home and taken credit for Obamacare funding community health centers without mentioning Obamacare.
    Paul Ryan is one of them.

    See, if I was paying for ads for Ryan’s opponent, these are the ads I would buy.

  17. 17
    Violet says:

    @PhoenixRising: Your story is exactly the kind of thing I think will be happening all over place, along with increased entrepreneurship. De-coupling health insurance and full time work at a large corporation means people are free to pursue all kinds of employment, from multiple part time gigs to freelancing to starting their company to working at a small firm like yours. It’s going to be a great boost for the economy. It’s the untold story of the new health insurance law. It’s going to happen and stories like yours prove it’s starting to happen already.

  18. 18
    MomSense says:

    @PhoenixRising:

    I have tears streaming down my face reading your post. ObamaCare is going to improve so many lives!!

  19. 19
    Kay says:

    @aimai:

    My 20 year old son works in a factory full-time because he hasn’t decided what he wants to do yet. He asked me to look at his employer-provided health plans (he has three to choose from) because it’s time to re-enroll.
    So amusing, but infuriating. The first page of the packet is a list of the preventive care services required under the law with no out of pocket costs. Medical Mutual of Ohio is selling these as ” a benefit” they provided to their “clients”. They go on and on about how much they “care” etc.
    It’s the list off the ACA website. They were forced to do it.

  20. 20
    Hunter says:

    “. . . the hundreds of Americans who have filled town-hall-style meetings throughout the country, angrily expressing their fear of the Obama administration’s proposed changes to the nation’s health care system.”

    You mean the “Keep your government hands off my Medicare” crowd?

    This is what has the GOP in full panic mode: as rocky as the roll-out has been (and has anyone ever seen a website that worked right the first time?), once people are able to talk to someone or check out the various plans online, they are delighted that they now have decent options for medical insurance.

    And the Teabagger Caucus just doesn’t get it — they’ll keep beating on this one until there’s nothing left to beat.

  21. 21
    Kay says:

    @rikyrah:

    I know that Bernie Sanders (yes, socialist Bernie Sanders) is responsible for that poor person in a Red County getting their clinic

    I used a community health center for a pregnancy and it was actually a life-saver. Actually. Literally :)

    It was great care, too. They bullied us on eating right. There’s no other word for it. It works. I still think about everything I eat. 6 months of haranguing lasts a lifetime. We were all terrified the “care team” were going to yell at us.

  22. 22
    Jennifer says:

    I missed John’s rant post last night, but WRT the website rollout: who thought that there wouldn’t be problems? I’ve got a fucking bridge I’d like to sell to anyone who thought that a newly launched site getting millions of hits on day one wouldn’t have any problems.

    Also, too: every time these fucks try to pretend that the website is the be-all and end-all of Obamacare, we need to step up and remind them of their favorite talking point from 4 years ago: the ACA has over 2,000 pages. Do these dumb shits really expect anyone to believe that all 2,000 pages are about a website? No? Well, shit, I guess that there’s more to this Obamacare than just a fucked-up website after all, isn’t there?

  23. 23

    @MomSense: This isn’t the time to cry. The time to cry was January 2005, when the mammogram showed a lump. We knew that we were going to lose everything. My wife went outside after listening to the voicemail (left at 4:55pm on a Friday asking her to come back in Monday morning but not saying why…) and smoked her last cigarette.

    By Monday we’d found the baseline film, by Wed. the radiologist that planned Parenthood referred her to had matched them up, and it was scar tissue from a bee sting in childhood. She still hasn’t smoked again, but that was the longest weekend of my life.

    This is what it means to be uninsured: the news that your 5 year old may lose a parent in elementary school takes a backseat to ‘we’re going to lose the house’.

  24. 24
    Cervantes says:

    To donate to Remote Area Medical, try this page.

    Steinhauer’s article does not do justice to the organization or its founder, Stan Brock. Some of you may remember Stan as the co-host of Wild Kingdom on NBC in the 60s. He’s a good guy despite being a Limey bastard.

    But speaking of English — Steinhauer and her editors at the NYT apparently did not know what the word “corollary” means.

  25. 25
    Violet says:

    @Jennifer: Dems need some kind of pithy retort, like “Obamacare isn’t a website. It’s a law.” or something like that, but that sounds friendly and helpful.

  26. 26
    Mr Stagger Lee says:

    @rikyrah: Let him rest in his unrest, otherwise he would be like the skinhead in the classic Clayton Bigsby sketch by Dave Chapelle. Then again if I was in President Obama office, I would send him a card signed by the president, thanking him for his support. As for this story, Ed Schultz has featured stories like this on his show. And we brag to the world with our foam fingers shouting USA! USA!!!???

  27. 27
    Kay says:

    @Violet:

    I’m hoping reality (eventually) trumps narrative. Local trumps national. It sometimes does, although not always.

    Some of it is the nature of the thing itself. Most people who talk (and are listened to) have health insurance. There’s no way to get around that structural disconnect other than one by one.

  28. 28
    CarolDuhart2 says:

    @Violet: Don’t forget the earlier retirements as well. There is a small class of folks who could reitre, but being too young for Medicare, stay on for health benefits because of chronic conditions. Some jobs could start opening up, letting people lower on the ladder move up when these people leave. Some of these are executives who want to cash out, but are afraid that one big medical incident could wipe out a lifetime IRA or pension fund, have pre-existing conditions or dependents that do. Obamacare takes care of that.

    Kay could also elaborate on this more, but since Ronald Reagan there’s been a lot of older urban hospitals that have closed and moved out to the suburbs. Or closed altogether. I can think of a few institutions that have closed completely like Deaconess-and two more that have moved to the suburbs. If you are working poor and have no insurance and lowered access to care of any sort.

    And I believe that will be part two of the Great American Healthcare reform-funding directed more and more to the underserved areas.

    And BTW, one of the issues in the New York mayoral race is about a hospital that might be converted into a condo.

  29. 29
    Kay says:

    @PhoenixRising:

    I am running a canvass for a school bond campaign here at noon, and I think this deserves its own post, so I’ll put it up when I get back if there’s a break in the posting where it will get read. Unless another FP’er gets there first!

    Thanks. It’s a great account of your experience.

    I’m freaking out a little about our school bond campaign. I need a poll! I’m in the dark! We only need 3000 votes but it’s like pulling teeth.

  30. 30
    Chris says:

    @rikyrah:

    I had a low opinion of them, but even I was shocked at the extent of their fucking evil in condemning their working poor to lives without health insurance.

    I can’t say I actually thought about whether this would happen beforehand, but it doesn’t surprise me that they did it. It’s SOP for red state elites, once they’ve lost the argument at the national level, to retreat into their little fiefdoms and do everything they can to protect the social order there, if not elsewhere. Been that way since the end of the Civil War. There’s a reason why even by the standards of the time, the South was so desperately poor between the 1870s and the 1930s – local elites (usually in collusion with national business interests) wanted to preserve their highly stratified, unequal society by any means necessary, and it didn’t matter to them how much that hurt “their” working poor. (Even the white ones). This is just more of the same.

  31. 31
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Kay: The polls are probably skewed, so don’t worry about them. Good luck with the good works today.

  32. 32
    Woodrowfan says:

    I had a low opinion of them, but even I was shocked at the extent of their fucking evil in condemning their working poor to lives without health insurance.

    I have found that if you assume the worst of the rightwing, you’re rarely surprised.

  33. 33
    geg6 says:

    @aimai:

    This is a fucking righteous rant and I sign on to every word of it. Bravo!

    @PhoenixRising:

    This is the second time this morning I’ve been reduced to weeping. The first was reading a HuffPo article about the behind the scenes reality of when Obama went to Newtown after the horrible murders there.

  34. 34
    MomSense says:

    @PhoenixRising:

    This is what it means to be uninsured: the news that your 5 year old may lose a parent in elementary school takes a backseat to ‘we’re going to lose the house’.

    Powerful and humbling.

  35. 35
    Anya says:

    @Kay: I wish the democrats will deal with that with a killer ad that serves to educate the average voter about the benefits of the ACA, while naming and shaming the republicans who opposed it. They can use the same ad in every congressional house district in the country. They should point out that congressman X voted 40 times and shutdown the government to repeal the law that gives you all these benefits.

  36. 36
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Anya: Failing to do something like this would be malpractice.

  37. 37
    gene108 says:

    @rikyrah:

    I know that Bernie Sanders (yes, socialist Bernie Sanders) is responsible for that poor person in a Red County getting their clinic….but these folks don’t, and the GOP who didn’t provide one fucking vote for Obamacare, or any of the benefits, shouldn’t be able to stand there and take credit like they actually voted for this. If it were up to their GOP critter, those folks would be dying in the streets,and they wouldn’t give a fuck.

    A properly functioning media would be able to point these things out.

    We do not have a properly functioning media, so con artists Republican politicians can go around talking about how great Democratic laws are, even though they have fought tooth and nail to oppose them.

    Look for Republicans to actually run ads talking about how the ACA was their idea, when it becomes very popular – like Meicare and Social Security – in the near future.

    EDIT: I’ve seen the groundwork for this already begin to be laid out. On one of the talking head shows, there was a “pundit” saying that Max Baucus conferenced with Snowe and Grassley in drafting to the PPACA, so despite not having Republican votes, the law does have Republican ideas underpinning it.

  38. 38

    @Violet:
    They just have to wait, and in about four months tell millions of people that the great health care they just got? That’s Obamacare.

    Pretty soon after that the motivational poster will make the rounds online with a family getting their blood pressure taken in a doctor’s office and the caption ‘How’s that Hopey Changey working out for you? PRETTY FUCKING GREAT.’

  39. 39
    Kay says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Thanks. It’s been really interesting working with Republicans. We have a genuinely great team. The objective is to find the yes voters and turn them out. The scary part is Republicans think Democrats have cracked this code, because they were impressed with us in ’08 and ’12 here locally, and there’s no “code”.

  40. 40
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Frankensteinbeck: But the whole thing is fucked up My best friend’s sister’s boyfriend’s brother’s girlfriend heard from this guy who knows this kid who’s going with the girl whose premiums are going to go up. I guess it’s pretty serious.

  41. 41
    Valdivia says:

    @aimai:

    Sing it! Can we just blast this to every fucking blogger who spent the last week talking about the website?

  42. 42

    @Omnes Omnibus: Did you see the comment on the John Cole’s thread below about how a high school student can build a website. Yeah like all websites are the same.

  43. 43
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: I walked away from that one. As you may have noticed, some of the people seriously pissed me off last night.

  44. 44

    @Omnes Omnibus:
    In about four months, a very, very large number of people are going to be going ‘I’ve got health insurance for the first time!’ and ‘My premiums dropped a hundred dollars a month!’ and ‘I was able to change jobs and still have health insurance!’ They are not going to give a flying fuck what the talking heads in Washington think. They never have.

    The Tea Party will try to repeal Obamacare for the forseeable future. They don’t care about facts and will always believe it won’t seriously hurt them. They’ll be left behind, and the only question is how long that will take.

  45. 45
    The Art of Compromise says:

    @aimai: This is the “professional left” that Robert Gibbs was talking about and got hammered for saying. We need to find a way to get this info out. Why aren’t Chris Hayes, R. Maddow, J. Stewart, B. Maher, etc. elevating these stories? Is move.on, dkos, huff post, highlighting these stories? How do we get these stories out? “WE” seem to exalt ezra and the like when they say something we agree with, we should target them with our thoughts when they exhibit their “righteous elitism” and downright laziness for not reporting on facts.

  46. 46
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Frankensteinbeck: I agree completely.

  47. 47
    Another Botsplainer says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: Yes, that person is ignorant.

  48. 48
    pseudonymous in nc says:

    @aimai:

    Maybe Ezra et al would be placated if the ACA delivered choclates and flowers to everyone who had to wait a few hours to fill their papework?

    For crying out loud. We’re supposed to be the believers in good government here.

    If your argument is “well, you can cope with a malfunctioning web interface because it’s better than lining up overnight outside an arena to get 15 minutes some pro bono doctors”, then that’s no less condescending than the claims of privilege you’ve been throwing about.

    The website is, for better or worse, designed to be the main entrance and atrium to this government service for the people most affected by it and with most to gain from it. The guy who runs the British government digital service made this point when he talked to NPR last week: most people’s direct interactions with government are discrete transactions, and when you get those right, it makes a real difference.

    The problems with HC.gov will be fixed. When they’re fixed, it’s time to turn attention to the other ways that the government directly touches people’s lives.

  49. 49
    cmorenc says:

    It’s not just poor people who (pre-ACA) were financially stressed to forego indulging the medical system for things like routine physicals, and who only used the health-care system for a serious no-alternative crisis involving serious illness or injury. My wife is a physician, and her medical group could only afford to provide $5K threshold per family member catastrophic-type BCBS coverage for her practices’ employees (including the physician-owners!). Because of her key position in the health care system, we can informally fudge getting some care that would have been costly for ordinary schmoes, but how ironic is it that members of a medical family have foregone routine annual physicals because they aren’t covered (but now will be).

  50. 50
    piratedan says:

    the project cited is similar to the one that Olbermann (IIRC) sponsored through his show Countdown on MSNBC to illustrate the need of folks that couldn’t afford to go to the ER to get their healthcare and how people waiting in line for days to get in line to see a doctor or a dentist. Simply as a wake up call to Congress that yes, there is a need and yes, just going to the ER doesn’t work. This law doesn’t fix everything, but its a damn sight better than nothing and essentially that’s all the GOP has, nothing.

  51. 51
    Roger Moore says:

    @aimai:

    Megan McCardle sat on line for 24 hours to get a new iphone and she was bought off with a few bottles of free water to soothe her tortured soul.

    Ouch; that’s going to leave a mark.

  52. 52
    cmorenc says:

    @Frankensteinbeck:

    The Tea Party will try to repeal Obamacare for the forseeable future. They don’t care about facts and will always believe it won’t seriously hurt them. They’ll be left behind, and the only question is how long that will take.

    Eventually, they’ll drop any further outright efforts to repeal the ACA. Instead, they’ll re-focus their efforts to trying to “reform” it by some privatization scheme designed to gradually transition it out of existence, and introduce increasingly aggressive instances of “means-testing” as a way to transform it from a general entitlement into a welfare program that mainly covers mooching “others”, thereby making it easier to progressively shrink and eventually kill.

    See, for example their never-ending ideas for “reforming” social security.

  53. 53

    @cmorenc:
    That is what the mainstream GOP will do. The Angry Old People wing of the base will frothingly demand that Obamacare be wiped from the history books so that Obama himself can be forgotten. At this point, I’m not sure they’ll stop until they die out. They’ll probably be ignored long before then.

  54. 54
    Xecky Gilchrist says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: I guess it’s pretty serious.

    But soon enough Obamacare will be very popular. The sportos, the motorheads, geeks, sluts, bloods, wastoids, dweebies, dickheads – they’ll all adore it. They’ll think it’s a righteous law.

  55. 55
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @pseudonymous in nc:

    If your argument is “well, you can cope with a malfunctioning web interface because it’s better than lining up overnight outside an arena to get 15 minutes some pro bono doctors”, then that’s no less condescending than the claims of privilege you’ve been throwing about.

    No, the argument is summed up in the title of the post. Perspective. The website has problems. The ACA has problems; some people fall through the cracks. The website’s problems are being fixed. The problems with the law itself will be identified and fixed. In the meantime, a lot of good is still being done. This is how good government works in practice. Nothing is ever glitch free. A lot of time gets spent trying to put out one fire before the next one starts. People get access to something they didn’t have before. More importantly in the long run, the idea of access to healthcare as a right not a privilege will take hold and that is what will lead ultimately to European-style universal healthcare.

  56. 56
    Jay C says:

    @CarolDuhart2:

    And BTW, one of the issues in the New York mayoral race is about a hospital that might be converted into a condo.

    Actually, the De Blasio campaign is being just a tad disingenuous on this issue: the “issue” is probably less about any future plans, but rather (AFAICT) an attempt to remind New Yorkers about the fate of St. Vincent’s Hospital – a NYC landmark (founded in 1849) which had to close in 2010, after many years of hemorrhaging money beyond the capacity of any ER to stanch. Its final closing freaked out a lot of people here (and yes, much of its real estate WILL be re-purposed to luxury housing), but it was sort of a unique situation: even if its closing left a big piece of Manhattan without a general hospital nearby.

  57. 57

    @Kay: I have a couple of edits that didn’t take, will email you.

  58. 58
    Xecky Gilchrist says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: More importantly in the long run, the idea of access to healthcare as a right not a privilege will take hold

    Well said, and in the short run I think it’s been enormously beneficial just in reintroducing the idea that government is allowed to regulate business. The Reagan Revolution is a tough speeding freight train of stupid and anything that slows it makes me cheer.

  59. 59
    Roger Moore says:

    @pseudonymous in nc:

    If your argument is “well, you can cope with a malfunctioning web interface because it’s better than lining up overnight outside an arena to get 15 minutes some pro bono doctors”, then that’s no less condescending than the claims of privilege you’ve been throwing about.

    I think the major point is that a bad web site with excessive wait times is an inconvenience- the kind of inconvenience people are willing to suffer when the final outcome is good- rather than a disaster. We need to fix the web site, and there are good signs that fixes are underway, but a bad web site isn’t the same thing as a bad program. We can’t spend so much time worrying about this one tree that we lose sight of the forest.

  60. 60

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    This is how good government works in practice.

    This is how life works in practice.

    The whole point of the ‘privilege’ argument is that to people who couldn’t get medical care, this is a Big Fucking Deal. Cheap or free insurance is a friggin’ miracle. Terror of homelessness and death is being wiped away for millions of people right now. The media has no grasp of what that fear is like, no idea of the blessing Obamacare is or for how many people. That they think website glitches are the big story is privilege.

  61. 61
    Ruckus says:

    @Kay:
    I hope I’m not overstepping here.
    This isn’t a great story(that that was your option) but it is a great story. A person had to use a community health center and turns out to be a successful professional.
    Good health is so important to everyone. It is vital to the individual, it is important to employers, and it is important to the country both physically and mentally.
    That some people deny this basic need or that of food would be unimaginable if it wasn’t happening every day right in front of us.
    I wonder how many millions of heart rending stories like @PhoenixRising: there are out there. I know, way, way too many.

  62. 62
    Violet says:

    Another related point: our media betters, who get health insurance through their employers, are on Obamacare. Employer-provided health insurance is an approved method of getting health insurance under the new law. Plans have been changed to meet the law’s requirements. Every single of of those whining media motherfuckers is on Obamacare. Guess it’s working for them.

  63. 63
    Ruckus says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:
    That’s nine degrees. Nice job.

  64. 64
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Ruckus: I didn’t do it on my own. It’s from Ferris Bueller.

  65. 65
    Cacti says:

    @rikyrah:

    Always remember:
    the feds asked for 5 billion for the rollout…got one billion.

    Also remember, the Republican Congress had no reservations about dumping buckets of money on the F-35 program, now 7 years behind schedule and $200 billion over budget.

  66. 66

    @Omnes Omnibus:
    If it helps, *I* saw what you did there.

  67. 67
    Roger Moore says:

    @Cacti:

    Also remember, the Republican Congress had no reservations about dumping buckets of money on the F-35 program, now 7 years behind schedule and $200 billion over budget.

    Sure. We literally don’t care that stuff behind schedule and over priced, because the primary goal isn’t to buy anything. The F-35, and many other military procurement programs, aren’t serious attempts to buy military hardware; they’re corporate welfare for the MIC. The goal is to keep defense contractors in business and working on ever more advanced technology so we can buy the world’s best weapons if/when the next war comes around. Actually getting functioning weapon systems in the interim is merely icing on the cake.

  68. 68
    mai naem says:

    @Amir Khalid: Some jobs do. A lot don’t. I’ve even run across people who ask me where they can get a cheap TB test for work, because their job won’t pay for them. That kind of blew me away because I always assumed it was legally required that the employer pay for the TB test. BTW, if you have a positive TB test or have ever had one, you have to have a chest xray which is around $200-$300. I just wonder how many people are running around with fake negative TB tests made with copy machines and white out,working with immune compromised people. .

  69. 69
    Cacti says:

    @Roger Moore:

    The F-35, and many other military procurement programs, aren’t serious attempts to buy military hardware; they’re corporate welfare for the MIC.

    Easily the most egregious example in my lifetime. For its hefty price tag, the F-35 can’t fly at night, in inclement weather, or in close formation with other F-35s. It lacks the the the agility of an F-16 in air to air combat, and the range of an F-15 for bombing, and costs more than both fighters combined.

    Lockheed-Martin knows the game well though, and has employed subcontractors in 45 different states on the project.

  70. 70
    Ruckus says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:
    I know but you reused it well.

    I have told this story before, probably to the point of saturation but good, available, and in my case free healthcare also saved my life. The VA. But relatively few people can actually take advantage of the VA. But lack of affordable healthcare also led to my sisters death from breast cancer.

  71. 71
    Chris says:

    @Cacti:

    That… is spectacular.

    And they’ve been working on it since the nineties. You’d think they’d have worked out the kinks.

  72. 72
    pseudonymous in nc says:

    @Roger Moore:

    I think the major point is that a bad web site with excessive wait times is an inconvenience- the kind of inconvenience people are willing to suffer when the final outcome is good- rather than a disaster.

    And again, I’ll make the point that the website is the primary venue for a transaction with government — even though it’s a transaction with an insurer, the government provides the exchange and sets the rules.

    More people will get insurance through the exchanges than will need to draw upon that insurance. More people will get small benefits from their new plans than big, bankruptcy-avoiding, life-saving ones. That’s why taking on healthcare was a brave political move, because the media and politicians and most people in general aren’t affected in politically-tangible ways.

    This shit should work. We shouldn’t be comparing it to the atrocity of American healthcare as it is currently delivered: that’s like saying a day of explosive shits after a dodgy shrimp is better than dysentery. Once HC.gov is fixed, we need to start talking about how to make every transaction with government better — whether it’s healthcare or taxes or passports or visas or student financial aid or job applications or every other user-facing federal government service.

    A messy user-facing interaction with government easily becomes metonymy for “government is bad”. This is why people whine about the DMV or TSA. This is the root of teabagger nihilism. Most people have very few direct interactions with government. When they work, they’re taken as a sign that government works. You might think that unfair, but that’s where we stand.

  73. 73
    pseudonymous in nc says:

    @Roger Moore:

    The F-35, and many other military procurement programs, aren’t serious attempts to buy military hardware; they’re corporate welfare for the MIC.

    And the problem here is that DoD practices become the template for every other bit of large-scale procurement in the federal government. And that persists because most of it only touches people’s lives when they get their nice job building flying hippos. You can’t do that for something that’s explicitly user-facing.

  74. 74

    @Cacti:

    the Republican Congress had no reservations about dumping buckets of money on the F-35 program, now 7 years behind schedule and $200 billion over budget.

    Another crucial difference is that we don’t actually need any newer fighter planes. ‘you and what army?’ is the question that no one asks about that boondoggle. Who are the next gen top guns going to be dogfighting with? The Chinese?

  75. 75
    gene108 says:

    @Frankensteinbeck:

    In about four months, a very, very large number of people are going to be going ‘I’ve got health insurance for the first time!’ and ‘My premiums dropped a hundred dollars a month!’ and ‘I was able to change jobs and still have health insurance!’ They are not going to give a flying fuck what the talking heads in Washington think. They never have.

    No offense, but word of mouth “marketing” does not reach as many people as mass media pushes in most cases. Most folks, who are too young to qualify for Medicare have insurance through their employer. Their friends have insurance through their employer.

    The uninsured and unisureable are a minority in this country, who do not not often interact with the majority, which is one reason universal coverage has been so hard to put into effect in this country.

    The right-wing has already started dedicated media space to all the “horror stories” of people, whose insurance has gone up because of Obamacare. Look for media saturation on these stories to take hold and replace heatlhcare.gov’s “complete failure” in December or January.

    I just think there’s so much anxiety about losing employer based coverage that knowing you are never going to be uninsureable again will take the edge of the “horror stories”, but I do not see the word of mouth campaign you suggest being much of a force.

  76. 76
    pseudonymous in nc says:

    @gene108:

    The right-wing has already started dedicated media space to all the “horror stories” of people, whose insurance has gone up because of Obamacare. Look for media saturation on these stories to take hold and replace heatlhcare.gov’s “complete failure” in December or January.

    And that’s going to be tricky to counter. People who have been paying $100/month for tiger-repellent insurance with a $20,000 deductible and $100,000 annual cap, but never got badly ill are going to feel like they’ve been screwed. The only way to counter that is with people who’ve been declared uninsurable for years, or who hit lifetime caps, or who were bankrupted under the previous status quo. It’s hard to make political hay out of a bankruptcy that doesn’t happen, or a serious illness that’s discovered and treated early.

    That means making insurance companies the villains, but they’re going to make enough money from ACA that they can shut up. And the White House may want to make it very clear to the insurance companies that their “oh, this is all the ACA’s fault” notices are shitting where they eat.

  77. 77
    Roger Moore says:

    @PhoenixRising:

    Another crucial difference is that we don’t actually need any newer fighter planes.

    Certainly not crewed ones; the future belongs to drones. Excuse me: DRONEZZZZ!!!

  78. 78
    mai naem says:

    @gene108: This is exacerbated by the fact that Big Media tend to live in blue states which tend to have lower uninsured rates so not only do they not know many people who are uninsured in their work lives but even in their regular lives.

    The person who really bugs me who criticizes O-care is Charles Krauthammer who I guarantee, as a working quadraplegic, understands insurance issues really well but criticizes O-care on selfish ideological reasons. Also too, George Will and his developmentally disabled kid. Will and his limited government crap, I bet goes out the window, when it comes to his kid and all the protection various laws give the kid.

  79. 79
    gene108 says:

    @pseudonymous in nc:

    Insurance companies are not in the business of countering the barrage of stories on Fox News, WSJ, Morning Joe, Meet the Press, etc. that are going to come flowing out about the guy with “tiger-repellent insurance”, who has been screwed by Obamacare. Maybe I misunderstand what you are trying to say.

    There is already noise out that President Obama said, “if you like your insurance, you will be able to keep it” and therefore the President is a no good nigger liar, because “tiger-repellent” guy liked his crap insurance that got discontinued.

    And if people really cared about the plight of the downtrodden, who are getting insurance for the first time and can access life saving treatment, we’d have done something about the lack of access before.

    I do not know, if people will swallow what the right-wing noise machine is pushing. Even the right-wing media cannot forestall the impact of reality forever.

    I just think the right-wing media will be able to do enough damage about how Obamacare hurts people that it’ll keep the Republicans in control of the House in 2014. The turn out needed to win back the House in 2014 can be dampened by keeping the feeling that “both sides do it” or that the best the Democrats can do is Obamacare, which doesn’t work.

  80. 80
    rikyrah says:

    @pseudonymous in nc:

    And that’s going to be tricky to counter. People who have been paying $100/month for tiger-repellent insurance with a $20,000 deductible and $100,000 annual cap, but never got badly ill are going to feel like they’ve been screwed. The only way to counter that is with people who’ve been declared uninsurable for years, or who hit lifetime caps, or who were bankrupted under the previous status quo. It’s hard to make political hay out of a bankruptcy that doesn’t happen, or a serious illness that’s discovered and treated early.

    you mean like the three idiot couples that Hannity had on his show about how Obamacare was ‘ ruining’ their lives, but the writer from Salon.com totally debunked it, and proved how each of the couples would benefit from Obamacare. But, they were so fucking stupid that they wouldn’t even try and find out how their lives would benefit from it.

  81. 81
    Roger Moore says:

    @pseudonymous in nc:

    More people will get insurance through the exchanges than will need to draw upon that insurance.

    It’s inevitable that more people will sign up than will use care, since it’s impossible for people to take advantage without signing up, but most of the people who sign up are going to take advantage of their insurance one way or another. It may be that relatively few people will need to take advantage of some of the higher-end features of the exchange plans (e.g. annual contribution caps and no lifetime limit on covered value), but one of the major features of Obamacare is that routine preventive care is covered without additional costs. The majority, probably a large majority, of the people buying on exchanges are going to take advantage of those services. And you can bet that essentially all of the people who are finally getting coverage after being denied for a pre-existing condition are going to take advantage. It’s nonsensical to think that the majority of people who sign up on the exchanges are going to go for a year without using any covered medical care, and it’s a very good bet that people most eager to sign up are also the ones most likely to want and need covered care.

  82. 82
    Roger Moore says:

    @mai naem:

    Will and his limited government crap, I bet goes out the window, when it comes to his kid and all the protection various laws give the kid.

    I bet it also goes out the window when it comes to government built infrastructure that benefits businesses in which he has an ownership stake.

  83. 83
    karen marie says:

    All this talk about how great Obamacare is … the TV, when I was standing in line to get coffee this morning, had GIANT FONT declaring that MEN ARE PAYING 99% MOAR UNDER OBAMACARE and WOMEN ARE PAYING MOAR TOO!

    Where do they get these figures? I didn’t look at the screen long enough but assume it was CNN because they don’t usually have Fox on (surprisingly).

  84. 84
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @karen marie: FWIW people who didn’t have insurance before will be paying an infinite amount more for their insurance.

  85. 85
    PurpleGirl says:

    @Jay C: To a certain extent that’s right. The attention has been on the closing of Long Island College Hospital. (As I write this I’m remembering that another hospital in Brooklyn is slated to close, but I forget the name.)

    But there is another hospital that closed in the meantime — St. John’s Queens — that has been turned into a condo apartment building. The interior rebuilding has been done, the finishing work is being done now and it should reopen as a residential building soon. Throughout the City it seems there are hospitals being closed. You wonder where people are supposed to go, how many hospitals doctors will need admitting privileges at so their patients have a place to go when needed.

  86. 86
    John F says:

    @Roger Moore: Also the same can be said about the V22 Osprey. It got pushed back several times over 25 years. When the USMC finally deployed it to Iraq, it mainly performed missions that existing aircraft could do.

  87. 87
    cckids says:

    @PhoenixRising:

    This is what it means to be uninsured: the news that your 5 year old may lose a parent in elementary school takes a backseat to ‘we’re going to lose the house’.

    This, x 1000. We’ve been uninsured since 2004, because the shitty policy wasn’t worth the $600 a month we didn’t really have. We have lucked out (we hope) and haven’t developed any cancers, etc (tho how would we know), but we have self-medicated to a point I would not have dreamed. We are helped, sadly, by the fact that my oldest son has such extreme medical conditions & consequently has so much medical equipment that we can do things like nurse each other through swine flu; watching oxygen SATS & using the nebulizer & his extra meds. I’ve used steri-strips & NuSkin instead of stitches on my husband, myself & even (to my everlasting shame) on my other son. I’ve sat up through the night with my daughter, icing her ankle and praying it wasn’t a break, just a bad bruise, because we didn’t even have the $119 the Quick-Care clinic requires to let you in the door, much less the thousands the ER would charge. When I tripped while lifting my son (at 150 lbs) & tore 3 ligaments in my knee, I bought a brace & wore it for 6 weeks, because surgery just wasn’t happening. Any dental care in the house went strictly to the two younger kids, and it sure as f*ck wasn’t enough, even for them.

    So, yes, we can wait out a buggy website.

    And the R’s in my district have gained a person who is sitting at home, caring for a disabled child, with LOADS of time to phone-bank. Looking at you, “Dr.” Joe Heck. You’re going down.

  88. 88
    pseudonymous in nc says:

    @gene108:

    Maybe I misunderstand what you are trying to say.

    My point was that you make the political point about the end of uninsurability by reminding people of the uninsurable, and the political point about the end of annual or lifetime caps by showing people who were affected by them, which in turn means showing how the insurance companies were shitheads. These are the same companies that are now the providers (and beneficiaries) of federally-subsidised plans. That’s the political disadvantage of evolution vs revolution.

    In strictly political terms, “I got sick, I got care, I got better, I didn’t pay lots of money” is a surprisingly hard sell, especially when the media reporting on it are on gold-plated plans for which that’s the norm. It’s the equivalent of “well-built home does not fall down in storm”.

  89. 89
    John F says:

    Also the same can be said about the V22 Osprey. It got pushed back several times over 25 years. When the USMC finally deployed it to Iraq, it mainly performed missions that existing aircraft could do.

  90. 90
    karen marie says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Absolutely, but this was screeching that people’s premiums were going up significantly. I understand that a number of people will see premiums go up, but it was my impression from the non-screechy reporting that most people who are already buying insurance on the open market will see premiums stay the same or go down.

  91. 91
    Ruckus says:

    @pseudonymous in nc:
    And yet the DMV in both states I’ve lived in in the last 30 yrs work well. That’s CA and OH. And people still say they don’t. I believe there is something more going on than just performance. Maybe institutional hatred. Expectations and beliefs are far stronger than experience in most people. They have to be overcome before a positive experience will change outlook. It takes wanting to change and generally a number of positive experiences before reality can set in.

  92. 92
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @karen marie: I am sure that people moving from a crappy noncompliant plan might see their rates go up. Also, there will be people who, through no fault of their own, fall through a crack in the system. There should be a real emphasis on fixing those cracks as they come to light.

  93. 93
    Jay C says:

    @PurpleGirl:

    Yeah, the hospital “business” – especially in a crowded, expensive urban area like NYC – is under a lot of stress from both the usual healthcare-cost issues, plus the pressure of real-estate development, since very many of them (like the former St. Vincent’s) are sited in desirable locations.

    Though in recent years, hospitals in the City, though have tended to merge and expand – usually the biggest ones getting even bigger (like most businesses nowadays) – it’s just an unfortunate downside that the ones most likely to go under are usually located in less-affluent areas that need typically need access to healthcare the most.

  94. 94
    gene108 says:

    @Ruckus:

    Expectations and beliefs are far stronger than experience in most people.

    A lot of people are impatient pricks, who think they should be treated as the center of the universe, when dealing with anyone else.

    I see this anytime there’s a line of any sort, anywhere. People feel like they are being disrespected and the institution providing the services – grocery store, DMV, movie theater…doesn’t matter what it is – has somehow utterly failed them.

    I do not know the cure for this.

  95. 95
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @gene108: I hate lines. Passionately. As a result, I make efforts to avoid them. Buy tickets in advance. Avoid busy times. Wait until the buzz over something dies down. Find the out of the way DMV office.

  96. 96
    GHayduke (formerly lojasmo) says:

    @aimai:

    lost her 9 year old boy to an absessed tooth

    Ugh. Reminds me of the time in our ER when an (uninsured, of course) patient came in septic because of an untreated tooth abscess. When we did the spinal tap we got frank puss to about 25 cm. Terrible.

    I’m sure he died.

  97. 97
    GHayduke (formerly lojasmo) says:

    @PhoenixRising:

    This is great. I’m very happy for you and yours.

    Cheers.
    Jas

  98. 98
    Ruckus says:

    @gene108:
    They should have to wait in line for life saving care they can’t afford to pay for. Yes you get impatient, but you aren’t about to get out of that line. You learn to be grateful for the scraps that you can get, not the time that costs you a lot less.
    I have a saying when someone truly wastes my time rather than I have to wait my turn. My time isn’t worth much but it is worth more than this.
    And a story. Change planes at O’Hare, middle of winter, many delays. Next plane canceled, have to stand in line for who know how long to get on the next available flight. About 45min or so it’s my turn. I have been hearing whining and bullshit for 45 min and the poor woman at the counter is about to go off on the next person. I put a smile on my face and say hello, how are you doing? She is so frazzled that she almost doesn’t notice. “What can I do to help you?” Like everyone else flight canceled, I need to rebook. Whatever you have is great. And BTW I’m amazed that you haven’t told about 30 people to stuff it and walk home.
    I got booked on the next flight and upgraded to first class. Just for not being a prick. How hard was that?

    Lines are a part of life, slow down and enjoy the moment. You have so few good moments, why not try to make more of them? Once had a fun conversation with the woman behind me who misunderstood me. She told me how nice I was. I told her I really wasn’t that nice. She insisted. I told her she doesn’t know me, I really am not that nice. She thought that was funny and we both got a good laugh out of that. Just a moment, just a little BS and we both got a laugh out of it. A little bit better day from standing in line.

  99. 99
    GHayduke (formerly lojasmo) says:

    @karen marie:

    They cherrypick people who have catastrophic insurance (shitty) and compare it to gold or platinum rates.

    It’s bullshit. CNN/Fox/MSNBE Bhvatever. All. The. Same.

  100. 100
    Jebediah, RBG says:

    @cckids:

    I’ve used steri-strips & NuSkin instead of stitches on my husband, myself & even (to my everlasting shame) on my other son.

    I’m sure this thread is totally dead, but I just had to say: What shame? You resourcefully, inventively, did what you could to take care of your son with what you had available.
    In other words, I think you mis-spelled “everlasting credit.”

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