(UPDATE: Don't ask, don't smell. Just go to this firedoglake link and do what needs to be done, please and thank you.)
This is not about David, though it certainly could have been. Until the last five years of his life, he had no health insurance. He couldn't afford it.
Bill Caudle, 39, enlisted in the Army so that he could get health insurance (to) help pay for his wife's ovarian cancer treatment, reports Mark Johnson of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Bill was laid off from his job at a plastics company in March, where he had worked for 20 years, and searched for a new job for a few months before signing up so that his wife and high school sweetheart, Michelle, would be guaranteed chemotherapy. On their own, the Caudles' insurance cost them $1,370 each month, which they could not afford on Michelle's part-time salary at a fast food restaurant.
The four-year commitment means Bill will miss all of his youngest daughter's four years of high school. Chelsea, the daughter, cried when her mother told her. Bill left for processing and basic training October 6. The next day, once he was officially processed, his Army health coverage started.
What’s wrong with this picture? I will tell you.
This is just the latest and most egregious example of a U.S. health care system rotting at its core.
People, this is not a political issue, though it would be easy to make it one. But actually, this is a human rights issue, rooted in a socio-economic catastrophe.
This is the frickin’ United States of America—arguably the wealthiest and most powerful nation in the world. The powers that be have made absolute hash of our economy, having embraced a tops-down, law twisting, it’s-all-about-me-and-my-like-minded-greedicons way of thinking and doing things.
The net result is that the middle class is being crushed and the low-income class (which now includes much of what used to be the middle class) is being systematically decimated.
So people like Bill Caudle lose their jobs as companies forfeit the lives of human beings (yes, I really do mean that) in favor of maintaining temples where the holy bottom line is worshipped.
So families like the Caudles are ground up in a system not necessarily of their making nor liking. They lose their modest incomes. They lose their benefits, because who the hell can afford the nose-bleed inducing premiums of Cobra and beyond? I’ve been there. I know.
So Bill Caudle saw risking his life in Iraq as the only solution to attempt to keep his wife alive.
Want to talk death panels, folks? Guess what. We’re living ‘em. We just don’t use that language to describe what we’re doing to our own people—people of every age, married, single, healthy, catastrophically diseased, irrespective of race and gender, every single day.
Now it gets political. Because if you believe this is wrong (and it is), then you need to make noise. Lots of it. You need to contact your Congress critters (House and Senate), and also some beyond your own corner of the country. You need to tell them that anything less than a “robust public option,” as they are fond of saying, is a travesty.
We are, in effect, sentencing our citizens to death by our failure to protect them. Ask Michelle Caudle. She knows. The death-panel-that-isn’t-acknowledged-as-such attempted to triage her. To condemn her to certain death in the absence of hopeful medical solutions. To tick off her name on a list of, “Gee, that’s too bad” victims because no one gives a hoot about her personally. “Eh, there are stories like that all over the place. If we allow ourselves to get personally invested in them, next thing you know, we’ll start caring. Compassion and the bottom line are not compatible, you see.”
Michelle Caudle is just one story among way, way, way too many. This is not a job for ghost-busters. It’s a job for you and for me. Will you call? And write? And make noise? Do. Now. Please.
(Cross posted at firedoglake.)