Your Money, or Your Life

Death is not optional. It will come to all of us sooner or later. The best that can be hoped for is to have a life that is long and a death that is as painless as possible.

Forty-three year old Edith Rodriguez lost on both of those counts. Her life was needlessly brought to a tragic end. She spent her last time on earth writhing in pain. Why? Was Edith in some desolate third world country? No, she was in the United States. Was Edith in an isolated location, far from medical help? No, she was in the Emergency Room of a California hospital. Was this tragedy caused by the fact that she might not have had health insurance? Maybe. Was the problem that she was sick while being Hispanic? Could be.

The news reports have painted a picture that is difficult to think about. Edith writhing in pain in the Emergency Room — falling out of the wheel chair, vomiting blood while lying on the cold Emergency Room floor, excruciating pain, a possible bowel perforation — the janitorial staff cleaning the floor around her limp body, while the medical staff ignored the pleas for help from her family. This is not meant to be a condemnation of all doctors, nurses, and other medical personnel. It is meant to be a condemnation of the system, a system that has lost any hint of humanity.

Why did no one help Edith? What mistake did Edith make that caused this tragedy? Was this death-by-geography? If Edith had been almost anywhere else in the industrialized world, she probably would still be alive. She died because she was in the United States. Living in the US can be hazardous to your health. This is a nation that puts profits before patients; capitalism before compassion.

Sadly, Edith is not alone. In the United States 45,000 die every year from lack of medical care. That is like having fifteen 9/11s every year. It is worse than 9/11 because these are needless deaths that we are imposing on ourselves. These deaths will continue until there is a strong grassroots movement for a universal, single payer health care system.

Think that the Democrats or the Republicans will change things? Think again. Both political parties have been bought and paid for by the lobbyists. It is the lobbyists for the pharmaceutical companies, the HMOs, the insurance companies, and the for-profit medical centers who lurk through the halls of Congress and help write the legislation.

The US is in a crisis. Extortion by Insurance Company lobbyists must end. We need a Single Payer system immediately. Single Payer will save lives, and it also will save money. The exorbitant salaries of Insurance Company CEOs will be eliminated. The profit motive for investors will be eliminated. Administrative costs will be reduced because one single payer will replace a large number of insurance companies — all with different forms, different standards, and different requirements for an endless stream of confusing paper work. Single Payer will save money. Repeating, Single Payer will save money.

Health care by Wall Street standards does not work. Just ask the family of Edith Rodriguez.

Rosemarie Jackowski is an advocacy journalist living in Vermont. Read other articles by Rosemarie.

20 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. bozh said on September 28th, 2009 at 9:51am #

    well, the world plutos appear more united now than ever before to eradicate all basic human rights; incluses the right to live and the right die under some circumstances.
    However, the right to live is respected in OLD a-merri-ga and OLD europa, but not in asia or afrika.
    And in NEW a-merri-ga [the OLD apace disappearing] right to live for a-merri-gos appears a passing fancy.
    Only the plutos will enjoy basic rights. Includes the right to live in choicest places on planet. tnx

  2. Deadbeat said on September 28th, 2009 at 12:17pm #

    Only the plutos will enjoy basic rights. Includes the right to live in choicest places on planet. tnx

    I agree with bozh and why the struggle for single payer is a stunted demand. The demand has to be bolder especially in time of crisis. The ruling class has become more aggressive in the confiscation of resources from the masses and thus the masses much become more militant in its demand in order to counter the ruling class. Single payer will come when the ruling class feels threaten or when the ruling class is overthrown. Right now the pubic is not even organized around fighting for their basic rights and the ruling class knows this and this is why the banks where bailed out to the tune of 12 trillion dollars and the health plan coming from the government is more of the same.

    Articles like Ms. Jackowski’s are informative(and articles like these have been written for the past 30 years) but offers no strategy to achieve her advocacy. How can single payer be achieved? Articles like these don’t say. Protesting for single payer is ineffective therefore one needs to take a deep look at their strategy and examine the current political conditions.

  3. rosemarie jackowski said on September 28th, 2009 at 2:56pm #

    Maybe we need a Benevolent Monarchy?

    This article was partly inspired by a recent health care meeting. All seven legislators who were present stated that no real progress could be made because ‘the government is out of money’. Either they were lying or they were misinformed. I don’t know which. I am just trying to set the record straight. (Unfortunately this article will probably never be read by those legislators. So far, it has been censored in Vermont where the meeting was held.)

    You are right. I have no strategy to bring about Single Payer, or end war, or find homes for the homeless – I have no strategy, and worse than that, I am not sure that there is a strategy that would be successful. In my opinion, the window of opportunity closed a long time ago – maybe way back when the Black Budget was authorized.

    I don’t think that enough people in the US will ever protest the deaths of their fellow citizens. This is an ‘every-man-for-himself ‘ culture. Is there something about the DNA of USers that prevents them from having compassion?

    The average citizen/voter is complicit. Voting has consequences.

    Bozh and Deadbeat, do you have any suggestions?

  4. Don Hawkins said on September 28th, 2009 at 4:31pm #

    A government or state in which the wealthy rule. That’s the United States alright and how many people rule the government. Would that be the old very old 1%. Let’s see that’s about how many people? 300,000 people that is to big a number. We probably have to take in to account the people who control the bank’s the policy, the media our thought’s Worldwide it’s a club kind of more like a gang. 500 people maybe a thousand more like 200 hundred. Are they far right, no but they use the far right and the middle and the left to do one thing very well control thought and keep the money moving in one direction. Guess what direction that is? The bank’s first then a little go to policy makers and some for business and who supply’s the money the work well all of us and do they ever say thank’s. No just ask for more. How could we change the system well stop the supply of money work at least to them. We could get our policy makers to tax the hell out of them and at the same time say you can’t raise your prices. Probably a good idea would be the fossil fuel people and fast but that’s right first bank’s then money talk’s and shit walk’s as how much money is being spent in DC these day’s and dark day’s they are. Could I be wrong on this oh sure ok 400 people.

  5. Don Hawkins said on September 28th, 2009 at 4:44pm #

    I see H1N1 is spreading fast and tents being set up in the hospital parking lot’s. A lot of tents these day’s think bank’s. In reality they seem to be doing a good job so far with this flu as we are in rather tuff times and doctors instead of accounts or just pill pushers get to do some real work.

    Come gather ’round people
    Wherever you roam
    And admit that the waters
    Around you have grown
    And accept it that soon
    You’ll be drenched to the bone.
    If your time to you
    Is worth savin’
    Then you better start swimmin’
    Or you’ll sink like a stone
    For the times they are a-changin’.

    Come writers and critics
    Who prophesize with your pen
    And keep your eyes wide
    The chance won’t come again
    And don’t speak too soon
    For the wheel’s still in spin
    And there’s no tellin’ who
    That it’s namin’.
    For the loser now
    Will be later to win
    For the times they are a-changin’.

    Come senators, congressmen
    Please heed the call
    Don’t stand in the doorway
    Don’t block up the hall
    For he that gets hurt
    Will be he who has stalled
    There’s a battle outside
    And it is ragin’.
    It’ll soon shake your windows
    And rattle your walls
    For the times they are a-changin’.

    Come mothers and fathers
    Throughout the land
    And don’t criticize
    What you can’t understand
    Your sons and your daughters
    Are beyond your command
    Your old road is
    Rapidly agin’.
    Please get out of the new one
    If you can’t lend your hand
    For the times they are a-changin’.

    The line it is drawn
    The curse it is cast
    The slow one now
    Will later be fast
    As the present now
    Will later be past
    The order is
    Rapidly fadin’.
    And the first one now
    Will later be last
    For the times they are a-changin’.

  6. Don Hawkins said on September 28th, 2009 at 5:11pm #

    My Grandson got the flu H1N1 and he had a 105 temperature he’s 8 years old. That was one sick boy. He’s ok now and when he is 30 years old he will face bigger problems than what he just went through the last few day’s. He will have lot’s of company. We need to start now let’s try.

  7. A Mohit said on September 29th, 2009 at 5:51am #

    The first written laws by Hammurabi was instituted to safeguard the interest of the rich people. Many more laws have been written since then. The objective remains the same, nevertheless; give crumbs to the poors so that the rich can have the loaves.

  8. Dogwood said on September 29th, 2009 at 7:01am #

    Roesemarie, I love your writing and your articles – and greatly appreciate your intelligence and insights.

    I agree with all you’ve said – yet I urge you, as silly as it may sound, to not be discouraged. The answer IS in an informed and organized citizenry. Am I correct in thinking you were a Nader supporter/voter? Your comments regarding the consequences to not voting intelligently are extremely sound. Having worked with Ralph, and on Ralph-organized issues, it is quite stunningly exhilarating to see/feel/touch first-hand the actual power that we as single, regular folks can muster when we are informed and come together in an organized way. A simple example: a huge fight between the people against big energy corporations in California some years ago came down to no more than 150 volunteers – 150 only – causing the big energy corporations to fork out literally 45 million dollars to defeat a ballot measure. If we had 1000 volunteers and upwards – do the math – at some point the breaking point is reached. And it’s not just the cash. The reason they had to spend SO much to defeat 150 volunteers is because, by being organized, what we did grew daily exponentially. We were getting much press notice and the citizens were beginning to get the point. Similarly and again with few intellingently organized volunteers we were able to pass clean government ballot initiatives in several cities. The point I’m trying to make is that I was flabbergasted at how “easy” it was get results with so few people. And how obvious it was that by increasing the numbers – the power and effectiveness of organized people increases again exponentially. What is often not mentioned about Ralph are his extremely effective organizing skills. This is one reason why it is imperative for corporate American to consistently attempt to destroy his credibility in the minds of the American people. Had this man been elected? Ha! No two ways about it – we’d have Single Payer now – along with no wars, etc. But – back to my point. I think you know, we all know that regular American citizens want what we all want. But American citizens have been “corporatized”; and left with a feeling of powerlessness and confusion – lacking sometimes even the ability to figure out why – led to target the wrong enemies – led to perpetually hold the me-first stance. Of course, who does that stance benefit?
    For instance, does that stance give us all health coverage? Or does it insure continuing profits for the health care corporations?

    Things are extremely tough right now – but it is actually exciting to know that it really doesn’t take much in the way of intelligently organized people power to change that. My suggestion for now is this. Read Ralph’s new book, “Only the Super-Rich can Save Us”. I cannot wait to read it myself – and recommend it before reading it myself, because from knowing and working with Ralph, and hearing extended interviews with him regarding the book – it seems he is laying out how to effectively install – nationwide – the organizing network I previously mentioned. It’s hard for suffering, discouraged folks to get excited about actually believing that something can really work. I was too – until my eyes were opened by getting out there, on the street, collecting signatures from, and talking with, thousands and thousands of people – and seeing first-hand how much the majority of those people actually want a just society – and then, experiencing first hand successful change through such small numbers of organized folks.

    So, yes, we have all these horrific corporate derived problems – but we ultimately have more power than the corporations do. They do not vote. And by intelligently and effectively organizing – we regain our sovereignty.

    I recommend to everyone to put aside the corporate bashing of Ralph and read his weekly columns and all his books. It would be a great step forward in ending the corporate led engineering of our own demise.

  9. bozh said on September 29th, 2009 at 8:45am #

    I almost missed your q’n ab. what deabeat and bozh suggest we do to obtain and keep basic human rights in US and elsewhere.

    I postulate that in US we have one party. Without another econo-military-educational party, lower classes can expect that they wld continue to be near-totally [seems to me] excluded from governing their own land.

    Ideally, the second party shld be at least initially for only a few of the most basic rights. It shld or must include Leftists, Rightists, and people in btwn.
    I think or hope nader has already established a party.
    Now all we need is some foot work. Go door to door. Talk to people. Pass inexpensive leaflets on street corners explaining that having healthcare, right to be informed are basic rights.
    These rights do not hinge on money available or anything else; these rights depend solely on the desirable or of necessary-truth principle of equally sharing of what there is.

    I have done that. I am now 78 and my wife has the alzheimer’s. So, i go out only for an hour or so.
    In canada, we actually have three parties. One is {NDP} left wing, the other two are plutocratic.
    The plutocratic parties wld, we think, love to take away our right to healthcare. But lower classes on Left and Right appear solidly united to keep it.
    It seems all euro lands have at least two in-various-degrees-different parties. Their people appear freer; less scared; more peaceful in spite of most of them being ab. 50% fascist.
    In US, ab. 98+% of americans appear right wing. I do not like to call these people fascist because it wld amount to a blame of thre victims.
    Yes, they have been victimised by miseducation and disinformation. But they can be enlightened. Or at least that’s my hope. tnx

  10. rosemarie jackowski said on September 29th, 2009 at 10:22am #

    Great comments here. I just had an interesting meeting at a local hospital. I am advocating that they change their rule on how to bill patients who have been injured in an auto accident. One of the secret Medicare rules, I am told by hospital personnel, is that the patient is responsible for the payment – not an insurance company, not Medicare, not the government. It is just one of thousands of ‘gotcha rules’ in the US medical system. We have a ‘gotcha system’ that is killing a lot of people.

    Dogwood…Thanks for your support. About Nader – I have supported him and have voted for him for more than 20 years. When he is not on the ballot, I write him in. Many years ago when I lived in New Jersey, the electric company there had a plan to build a floating nuclear power plant off the coast of Atlantic City. A small group of citizens protested. Nader, with no publicity or fanfare, came to Cape May and helped us. The nuke was never built. I have had a lot of respect for him every since I met him. I have campaigned for him. During every election cycle, I also advocate for INFORMED voting. I write articles asking those who have not studied the issues to stay home and not cancel the vote of someone who is informed. BUT, you are right, I am discouraged and I see no reason for optimism.

    bozh…I am 72. In the US that is considered a pre-existing condition not only in medical circles but also in the legal system. If an older person is injured in the US most lawyers will refuse to represent that person because there would not be enough money in it for them. I send good thoughts north to you and your wife. Yes, we have only one Party here – the Money Party.

  11. rosemarie jackowski said on September 29th, 2009 at 10:32am #

    Don…about the H1N1 flu vaccine. I have an open mind. Is it safe to inject anyone with Thimerosal? Why the need for a ‘secret’ vaccine court? Should anyone allow a medical procedure that is so risky that their right to a judicial remedy is taken away if they are injured by that procedure? The experts say stay home when sick, but employers say come to work, or else. Lots of questions remain.

    Today medical workers in Albany NY had a big protest because they do NOT want to be forced to get the vaccine.

  12. b99 said on September 29th, 2009 at 11:44am #

    Amounts of thimerisol in the vaccine are miniscule. Much, much more mercury is consumed in fish or consumed otherwise. Thimerisol in vaccines are likely a threat to no one.

  13. Deadbeat said on September 29th, 2009 at 2:14pm #

    I want to respond to Ms. Jackowski. Unfortunately us Deadbeats have to rent ourselves for pecuniary. However there is a health care discussion today on Democracy Now! today featuring Kevin Zeese.

    The doctor appearing with Zeese argues for civil disobedience and that health care is the “civil rights” issue of the 21st Century. I agree with the doctor that civil disobedience is needed however I think that if there is going to be civil disobedience that it should embrace ALL aspects of human right and dignity since ALL aspects are vital to good health.

    If there is a militant uprising solely for single payer it will neglect the INTEGRATIVE and COMPREHENSIVE needs of the people that is needed to support good health. And that will be a missed opportunity.

  14. rosemarie jackowski said on September 29th, 2009 at 2:51pm #

    b99… Thimerosal is not the only issue. There are the other problems – such as so little confidence in the safety by the government/pharma corporations that they must be protected with special ‘vaccine courts’. Also, there is the question of who should have the right to decide what happens to and what is injected in your body. I agree, that sometimes there might be a need to protect public health and require extreme measures but we are not there yet.
    And why is there mercury in vaccines in the first place – isn’t it to prolong shelf life and enhance the bottom line for pharma companies? Next thing the government will be telling us is that illnesses are caused by a deficiency in mercury in our bodies.

  15. rosemarie jackowski said on September 29th, 2009 at 3:04pm #

    Deadbeat…I saw DN. It was good. I agree with what you say. Housing is a ‘health’ need. “Obedience to a higher authority” (as I prefer to call it) should address all of the needs. Everyone deserves to live a life of dignity and respect. That won’t happen under our current economic system – the root of the problem. (But I know that you know that.)
    Maybe the question is how to have a militant uprising and still protect the safety and lives of the innocent. If that question can’t be answered, how many innocent lives would you be willing to sacrifice? Sad to have this discussion when a non- militant solution would be possible if we had an informed and compassionate populace.

  16. Cman said on September 29th, 2009 at 11:54pm #

    “That won’t happen under our current economic system – the root of the problem.” Ms. jackowski…truer words have never been uttered/written or imagined! Thank you for your attempt to involve, educate, and motivate people, but I’m afraid that, because of the very absolute truth in the above statement, humanity is on the downslope side of it’s descent into the abyss. And since it behooves the elites to keep that side well lubricated with the slime of corruption that is necessary to perpetuate their control of the economic system, what chance does the mass of humanity have to move against the tide, or in this case the slick muck created by the system? Just a few of my thoughts on the issue. Negativism or truth?

  17. rosemarie jackowski said on September 30th, 2009 at 8:20am #

    Cman…I agree. The elites vote for their own interests, and the rest of the voters also vote for the interests of the elites. This well known phenomena is often explained by saying that it preserves the false illusion that someday we, too, might be on the top of the heap.
    Never underestimate the stupidity of the US voter.

  18. Tom Poe said on October 4th, 2009 at 2:46pm #

    I read the article, expecting at any moment, Jackowski would offer a strategy to rid this country of insurance companies, once and for all, replacing them with Single Payer. It didn’t happen.

    Where is the link she would provide that would let me go to find the weekly totals of those who lost their insurance each week? Where is the link she would provide that would let me see the names of those who died last week, because their insurance company refused their claim?

    Before buying health insurance, shouldn’t we, the public, be able to see how many families no longer have insurance coverage, because their insurance provider refused treatment?

    An insurance provider needs to be required to tick off all claim denials on a daily basis. I don’t care if the “final” decision is reached. I want to know what the count is for each week, just how many claims are even questioned.

    Before an insurance company pays a claim for a fire, they wait until an investigation provides a specific cause. Before an insurance company pays a claim for health care, they don’t wait, period. If at some point, they decide coverage isn’t included, they can work it out with the health care delivery system. In the meantime, I want to know just how many claims they dispute on a weekly basis. If they want to provide a count of how many claims are resolved in favor of the patient, so-be-it. Have at it.

    So, where’s that site?

  19. rosemarie jackowski said on October 6th, 2009 at 10:04am #

    Tom Poe…The insurance companies should be eliminated. The evidence of insurance company “Deniers” is indisputable. The business model of insurance companies is evidence – the more claims that they approve, the less profit they make. I don’t believe that any further investigation into the statistics is necessary.

    Yes, a strategy to rid the country of these insurance companies is needed. There are several possibilities – armed revolution in which a lot of innocent people will die – OR, having voters vote for members of Congress and a president who agree that Single Payer is the way to go. That is not likely. Voters had that chance during the last election. On my ballot there were 8 candidates plus a write-in option for president. Instead 90%+ of the voters voted for a Capitalist. Voting has consequences.

  20. olusoga babajide o said on October 16th, 2009 at 3:31pm #

    hello sirima
    i want you to help me because i dont have any money to survive or to live and i need money to plan for my life kindly assist me and may Almight ALLAH help you.
    thanks and get back to me on my yahoomail

    moc.oohaynull@10sirhcynnad am waiting for your reply because i want to use part of it to pay my school fees.