I'm Surrounded By...

This clip captures my mood perfectly right now, as I reflect on our country's politics and those vying for the presidency.

I'm surrounded by assholes, apparently. But I guess I already knew that. (Sigh).

Presidential hopeful Rick Santorum apparently thinks that insurance companies should be able to deny coverage for people with pre-existing conditions. He's also of the belief that those who aren't denied should have to pay more to receive benefits, because they're sick and cost more to insure.

Not all the fools GOP political hacks presidential wannabes think the same way, and some have specifically said that despite wanting to repeal the Affordable Health Care Act they want to make sure insurers can't prevent pre-existing denials outright.

But apparently, that's not how Rick rolls. Or so his sometimes-inconsistent video statements seem to indicate.

To a New Hampshire high school class, on why people with pre-existing conditions should be denied coverage:

More recently at a New Hampshire event, discussing the "sick-person premium" concept:

I saw these above clips after seeing an impassioned post Friday evening by a friend and fellow D-Advocate, Kelly K, over at Diabetesaliciousness. It's worth a read, if you haven't had a chance.

For me, I think that some of what he's said has been taken out of context. I get the business, economic arguments about what insurance is and isn't supposed to be and some of his logic seems sound to me. In a free market system, that's how a product-buying system should work - and while there are many aspects that influence the health care insurance discussion in that context, it's a simplistic and not-outrageous way to look at it. In the context of pre-existing conditions and people "causing" their own health issues, that DOES happen a lot. Sometimes, people get chronic conditions as a result of their lifestyle choices. It's the way our culture and global society operates. Obviously, not for everyone. Not to most in this Diabetes Community of ours, since many of us didn't do anything to "cause" the conditions we're living with. He's painting with a broad brush, but it does have some legitimate foundation.

But with that said, let me be clear on what I think overall about Mr. Santorum:

Rick, you just don't get it.

You think that because your child has a genetic disorder that's dubbed a "pre-existing condition," and you have the resources to go out and actually buy insurance for a little more than everyone else, that you're suddenly at the American people's level in understanding what we deal with?

I'm sorry, you don't. As a former senator who voluntarily left his job and is anything but cash-strapped, you're just not able to. Here, let me look to this recent Associated Press story that pretty much justifies the claim that you're out-of-touch with middle American on this "just pay a higher insurance cost" message:

Losing his Senate seat might have been the best thing that ever happened to Rick Santorum's bank account. In 2006, the Republican presidential hopeful earned about $200,000 from his Senate salary and book royalties. From January 2010 to August 2011, he earned at least $1.3 million as he cashed in on his 16 years in Congress by working as a corporate consultant, political pundit and board member.

Rick, I invite you to sit with me and any of the other 2.5 million others out there in the U.S. who are living with Type 1 as adults, or the million or so Parents of Child With Diabetes. Most of us are the ones who don't have the luxury to say, "Gee, I was diagnosed with a chronic condition through no fault of my own but it's OK to just pay a little more for my care." Or: "Really, insurance companies, if you want to just deny coverage because you think it might be bad for your business to insure me, go ahead - that's cool."

There isn't much choice to NOT have insurance, you see, because we already spend so much of our wages on D-care and supplies (thanks to crappy insurance coverage) that we can't afford to pay any sort of "sick person's premium" just to have the same or worse crappy coverage. We simply need it, and if we can't afford it, our lives are drastically different.

I didn't ask for a lifetime of this, of medications and a never-ending cycle of management, but that's my reality whether I can afford it or not. You and your well-to-do political buddies (many of whom have GOLDEN LIFETIME INSURANCE COVERAGE) telling me that I can negotiate a price with Blue Cross or UHC for something I have no control over is absolutely absurd. That's assuming I can even get past the entry-level customer service reps who typically don't grasp the basics of what I'm talking about anyhow.

We're not buying a car or maintaining a windshield here. We're talking about living and dying, being able to be in a condition to live our lives and work and play. Let's keep the debate on track, Rick. After all, I'm not going to make my case for sunscreen by praising how bright the moon gets at 2 in the morning... Apples and oranges, Rick. I'd hope you can grasp that.

Driving a car is not the same as living a life with a defect in a major organ. Rick, you have no clue what it's like to live in this world TOTALLY dependent on the medical system to survive. And so, with every ounce of passion in my heart, I write:

Screw you and your rhetoric, Rick.

It's time to stop blaming "sick" people for the sins of corporate greed.

Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness - those words are supposed to mean something. They're unalienable rights and aren't supposed to be contingent on a person's pocketbook having enough green to allow for it.

2012 is my chance to secure those rights and what I see going toward ensuring them, for myself and others. This country's elected leaders derive executive and legislative powers from the consent of the governed (Read: ME AND MY FRIENDS), and if you become destructive to the ends of taking away our unalienable rights, then it's our constitutional right to abolish your governing.

Consider it done, Rick. Bring on the election, assuming you even get that far. Tell your friends. It's on.

Oh, hey Hannity... before I forget: You're an idiot, too. Just wanted to tell you that.

Now, I'm going back to my own Indiana lawmakers who are boycotting the Statehouse over the right-to-work legislation... again. Seriously, people. Can't we stop this political nonsense?!?!?


Kate Cornell said…
You said it, Mike! (love the Spaceballs clip!). Speaking for the T2s in our country, or anyone else who has a condition that has been branded as being caused by lifestyle decisions, I am also offended by Mr. Santorum's rhetoric. No one decides to live in a way that will make them sick. Lack of health education, our society's lifestyle, lack of affordable healthy foods all contribute to the "epidemic" of unhealthy people. Fix the problems but don't blame the people who are suffering! Ok, I'd better stop now. I feel a blog post coming on. Thanks for your spot-on words.
Moira said…
Check out Santorum's record as a Senator when it comes to supporting (and by that I mean NOT SUPPORTING) medical research at the NIH. Ewwwww.
kim said…
mike, i agree 100% with you. i live in Canada, and yes, our health care is different than yours in the States. however, when trying to purchase extended health coverage (other than what the government pays for or if you're lucky enough to have medical benefits through work), we are all in the same boat. when trying to purchase Life Insurance, again, same boat. pre-existing conditions are brought up and you either can't get coverage or you are paying an arm and a leg for it. most of us with T1 pay enough out of pocket, and can't afford to pay the "extra". so our choices become (or at least mine did for many years) insulin and BP meds OR insulin and food? pen tips and cholesterol meds OR pen tips and winter boots for my kids? none of asked for this disease, and would certainly hand it back if able. we are punished out of hand for something we did nothing to achieve. i wish all governments could live for 1 week with our conditions, and little funds with which to do it.
Unknown said…

I left a comment on the HuffPo article. I'm stunned that a FATHER of a child with a "pre-existing condition"...a child who did NOTHING to "deserve" it...a child who didn't make a single solitary lifestyle choice to cause it...

STUNNED that he would have the gall to support limiting HIS OWN CHILD'S access to health insurance.

Oh, but this isn't about HIM and HIS DAUGHTER, now is it?

Because they're special.

Screw you, Santorum.
Janet said…
Although I can't view the video here at work, I CAN agree with your comments 100%. JWOD's (Jerks without diabetes) really have no clue what the healthcare system means to our survival. Thank you for collecting the facts about Rick Santorum so I can pass the information along. First time visitor to your blog. I like it!
Mike said…
During the Meet The Press Debate this past weekend Santorum said that healthcare is not a “right.” But then he went on to say that one of the guaranteed rights of Americans is the right to live. In the case of many people with D, there’s no difference. Years ago I when I was uninsured I literally had to decide between making a car payment or paying for insulin.

Many people that don’t have direct contact with a chronic illness really don’t get it. If I only went to the doctors once a year and only had to fill an antibiotic prescription every once in a while, I wouldn’t care so much about the high markup of drugs and medical services.
k2 said…
Great post, Mike!!!
Glad to see another DOCer writing about Santorum! He's an idiot and an offensive one at that!
He clearly has a conflict of interest re: health insurance co's and a do I say, not as I do, re: his daughter's pre-existing condition. And he clearly talks out of his arse!
Penny said…
Ugh. Santorum. He was in our state, PA, for so long. His record is corrupt, insensitive and at times, vulgar, towards those who are in the lower socio economic brackets. I find him shameful.
Kelly Booth said…
It is very scary to think that guy is actually running for President and there are people out there that like him. Like you, I agree that there are people out there that cause their problems, but I also think that it is too easy to play the “point the finger at the patient” game. I have had that happen to me several times and I don’t think it is right to do that to anyone. The most amazing part of Santorum is that he does have a daughter with serious health issues so you would think that he would get it. I am embarrassed that he represented my state in the Senate.
"It's time to stop blaming "sick" people for the sins of corporate greed." I agree. I find it ironic and frustrating how those who really need the coverage are usually denied the service.

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