Alex Blaze

My letter to The Hill on LGBT people and health care

Filed By Alex Blaze | September 25, 2009 2:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: bisexual, DOMA, gay marriage, GOProud, health care reform, lesbian, LGBT, marriage, peter lasalvia, private insurer, queer, republican, same-sex marriage, transgender, transsexual

I was disappointed when I read the op-ed entitled, "Expanding government-run health insurance means expanding discrimination against gays," by GOProud's Jimmy LaSalvia. According to polling data, the majority of Americans support a public option in health care reform, and there's no evidence LGBT Americans are different. Publishing a piece that argues that a public option will hurt LGBT Americans (or "gays," as Mr. LaSalvia puts it) from a fringe member of the community, which admonishes the LGBT "left" for supporting a measure popular with America's centrists, liberals, and leftists, misrepresents the material needs of the LGBT population.

Mr. LaSalvia's main objection to a public option is that, with the law that forbids the federal government from recognizing same-sex couples (DOMA), gays, lesbians, and bisexuals in committed relationships won't be recognized as such when it comes to enrollment in the public option. That fact is true, and it's wrong and discriminatory. But it's not a reason to oppose the public option; it's a reason to support the repeal of DOMA or a single-payer health care system that recognizes all people as individuals, neither of which the GOP will do.

The public option will be an unadulterated positive for LGBT Americans. Currently, neither the federal government nor most private business's insurers cover the same-sex partners of their employees, yet Mr. LaSalvia seems to have no problem with rampant homophobic discrimination in the status quo. He says that the few same-sex partners who are currently covered by their private insurers as a family unit "will find no such options when it comes to government-run healthcare." That's true, but it's deceptively worded - no one has been discussing a public option that would eliminate private, employment-based insurance. It's just what it's name says it is, an "option," and the few gay, lesbian, and bisexual people with good coverage can keep their private insurance if any of the current public option proposals become law.

Mr. LaSalvia further dips into hyperbole when he says, "low-income gay and lesbian families, who can't afford private insurance and will be forced by federal mandate into government-run healthcare, will be hit the hardest." I would be hard-pressed to describe people getting health care as "hard hit," but Mr. LaSalvia doesn't seem to appreciate that those low-income gay and lesbian families are hard hit in the status quo since they have to go without medical care and doctors' check ups until they end up in the emergency room. Around 62% of bankruptcies in America are related to medical expenses (and most of those bankruptcies coming from people who have private insurance). It stands to reason that, with rampant job discrimination that results LGBT people being more likely to live in poverty than heterosexuals, LGBT Americans suffer more than straight people from the current health care system. The public option also serves as a cost-cutting measure. A federal mandate to buy insurance from a private company (as the Senate Finance Committee proposed) would cost even more and cover less than a government-run option.

LGBT Americans have much more need for a public option than straight Americans do, as Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin spoke about earlier this week. Our long history with AIDS has shown us that the private health care system doesn't work for LGBT Americans - people with HIV are regularly denied coverage because of their "pre-existing condition. Promoting an individual market for health care, as Mr. LaSalvia proposes, would only increase the power private insurers have to deny individuals coverage.

47% of transgender Americans lost their jobs, were denied a promotion, or denied a job because they transitioned. Private insurers consistently discriminate against minorities, and yet Mr. LaSalvia is suggesting that their health insurers be allowed to bypass state-level antidiscrimination laws by moving across state lines to the state least willing to regulate them.

An individual market reduces the buyer's bargaining power. Even repealing DOMA wouldn't help a lesbian stay-at-home mom whose partner can't afford insurance in the private market. A refundable tax credit without cost-control measures like the public option, would only encourage private insurers to increase premiums, leaving many families uninsured.

Mr. LaSalvia represents the fringe of both the LGBT community and the Republican Party, and his arguments aren't persuasive reasons to oppose the public option. LGBT people often stress that we're the same as other Americans, and the current health care system is failing us just as it is failing straight America.

Cordially,

Alex Blaze
Managing Editor
The Bilerico Project


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ATTENTION!! Congress Has The Votes Needed To Pass A Public Option - TODAY http://bit.ly/TCq7O

Why A Strong Public Option Is Essential - By jacksmith - Working Class

Robert Reich explains the pubic option: http://bit.ly/dDYSJ http://robertreich.blogspot.com/

Hollywood Supports The Public Option :-) http://bit.ly/3XLwPi

It's not just because more than two thirds of the American people want a single payer health care system. And if they cant have a single payer system 77% of all Americans want a strong government-run public option on day one (86% of democrats, 75% of independents, and 72% republicans). Basically everyone.

It's not just because according to a new AARP POLL: 86 percent of seniors want universal healthcare security for All, including 93% of Democrats, 87% of Independents, and 78% of Republicans. With 79% of seniors supporting creating a new strong Government-run public option plan, available immediately. Including 89% of Democrats, 80% of Independents, and 61% of Republicans, STUNNING!!

It's not just because it will lower cost. Because a strong public option will dramatically lower cost for everyone. And dramatically improved the quality of care everyone receives in America and around the World. Rich, middle class, and poor a like.

It's not just because it will save trillions of dollars and prevent the needless deaths of millions more of YOU, caused by a rush to profit by the DISGRACEFUL, GREED DRIVEN, PRIVATE FOR PROFIT MEDICAL INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX!

It's not just because every expert in every field, including economist, and Nobel laureates all agree that free market based healthcare systems don't work. Never have and never will. The US has the only truly free market based healthcare system in the World. And as you all know now, IT IS A DISASTER!

It's not just because providing or denying medically necessary care for profit motivations is wrong. Because it is WRONG! It's professionally, ethically, and morally REPUGNANT!, Animalistic, VILE and EVIL.

THE REASON THE PUBLIC OPTION IS ESSENTIAL:

The public option is ESSENTIAL because over 200 million of you are trapped in the forest of the wolves. Which is the forest of the DISGRACEFUL, GREED DRIVEN, PRIVATE FOR PROFIT MEDICAL INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX! With no way out except through needless inhumane suffering, and DEATH. While the wolves tear at your flesh, and rip you limb from lib. Then feast on your lifeless bodies like a dead carcase for transplant parts.

At the most vulnerable times of your lives (when you were sick and hurting), millions of you have had to fight and loose cruel, but heroic battles. Fighting against the big guns of the DISGRACEFUL, GREED DRIVEN, PRIVATE FOR PROFIT MEDICAL INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX! in the forest of the wolves. All because you have no place else to go. You have no other CHOICE!

But the PUBLIC OPTION will give you someplace safe to go. And it will give us someplace safe to take you. The public option will be your refugium (your refuge). Where the wolves cannot get at you when your down, hurting, and vulnerable. Where everyone who needs it can find rest, security, comfort and the care they need. Protected by the BIG GUNS of We The People Of The United States. THE MOST POWERFUL PEOPLE AND COUNTRY ON EARTH.

This is why it is so critical that we do not lead another 50 million vulnerable, uninsured Americans into the forest of the wolves, without the protections of a Strong Government-run public option. We The People Of The United States MUST NOT LET THAT HAPPEN to any more of our fellow Americans. If healthcare reform does not contain a strong public option on day one. YOU MUST! KILL IT. Or you will do far more harm than good. And millions more will die needlessly. Rich, middle class, and poor a like.

To those who would continue to obstruct good and true healthcare reform for the American people, and who seek to trap millions more vulnerable Americans in the forest of the wolves. We will continue to fight you. We are prepared to wage all out war against you, and will eagerly DESTROY! you. Time...is...UP! YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED! No Co-op's! No Triggers! NO INDIVIDUAL MANDATES! without a Strong public option on day one.

Healthcare reform can be the GREATEST! Accomplishment of our time and century. A time when future generations may say of us, that we were all, AMERICAS GREATEST GENERATIONS.

BUT WE MUST ACT!

I therefore call on all my fellow Americans and the peoples of the World. To join us in this fight so that we may finish becoming the better America that we aspire to be for everyone.

SPREAD THE WORD!

I have been privileged to be witness as many of you fought, and struggled to take your first breath, and your last breath on this earth. Rich, middle class, and poor a like. Life is precious.

Whatever the cost. WE! MUST SUCCEED.

God Bless You My Fellow Human Beings

jacksmith - Working Class

Things You Can Do To Help NOW! http://www.everydaycitizen.com/2009/09/tired_of_watching_people_die_n.html

No Triggers! http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jason-rosenbaum/a-trigger-for-the-public_b_277910.html

Triggers http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-sirota/weve-seen-these-triggers_b_283583.html

Krugman on heathcare (http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/07/25/why-markets-cant-cure-healthcare/)

Senator Bernie Sanders on healthcare (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RSM8t_cLZgk&feature=player_embedded)

John Garamendi on the Public Option and the Grassroots: http://bit.ly/TJMty

Howard Dean on the Public Option http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8SKfW2dUnow&feature=player_embedded

We're Number 37! in quality of health care http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yVgOl3cETb4&feature=player_embedded

Twitter search (#welovethenhs #NHS #hc09 #hcr #healthcar #obama #p2 #topprog #) Check it out.

He does have one kernel of truth in this part:

"low-income gay and lesbian families, who can't afford private insurance and will be forced by federal mandate into government-run healthcare, will be hit the hardest."

His problem is that he claims families like mine will be forced into "government-run healthcare." Obama's talking points have had him wishy-washy on the public option for months but all in favor of forcing people into private insurance plans.

That rather pisses me off.

Our income is low to begin with. I am on Medicare. Out of my disability check of $1000/month, I have to give $200 back to the government to get my Medicare - the supposedly "free" medical care available to low-income disabled people. $200 is not free. Neither is the $400 I've had to spend this year on medication under the new prescription plan; the government has paid for $700 worth of meds. Add in the out-of-pocket costs that Medicare requires me to pay and it just becomes ridiculous. An example is my recent physical. I'm required to have a physical at least every three years. I got my bill back this week from my examination a few weeks ago. Out of $163 for the visit they required, they paid $15. $15. I'm stuck paying over $100 for it. Add in the co-pays required for regular visits, and I'll have paid over $3000 for my own medical costs this year. Out of the $12k I get for disability. That's 1/4 of my income.

Jerame has no insurance and hasn't for years; he's never had insurance in our 11 years together. We both desperately want him to be able to get medical care for some ongoing conditions he's never been able to be seen about. But I worry that forcing him into some private plan that "allows" uninsured people to negotiate better rates than the private insurance rates now (as if Jerame is going to be negotiating with anyone - some other corporation will do it) will only end up in our household losing a helluva lot more than $3000/year. If I'm paying that much, how much will he have to pay?

So as I look at it, I know there are benefits to long-term health by getting the insurance. But there's a long-term drain on finances too. It doesn't do us much good to have insurance on Jerame if the reason he's sick is malnutrition if we can't eat or exposure if we can't pay the mortgage.

So when you add together the fact that our families can't join as actual families and get a lower rate, it does mean that lower income LGBT families will be hit the hardest - just not from a "government-run health care" so much as private insurance companies. It really makes me angry that I'm going to have to pay these fuckers that have caused all the problems to begin with (pre-existing conditions, dropping coverage, skyrocketing costs, etc). Why are we rewarding them with our money we can't afford?

That's a big part of it to me. An individual mandate to buy insurance with no public option? The health care wonks are like, that'll be expensiver, but the subsidies will help. I'm like, no way in hell I'm going to be forced to fork over cash so that some private insurance CEO can buy more private jets.

Which is why we need the public option - to stop being forced to give private insurers money. If I could afford private insurance in the US, I probably would buy it, but I'd still be mad about it because I'd still be forced to buy it whether there's a law or not - I don't want to die.