This is not a pretty story

October 20, 2009 by barbara

barbara writes

(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.

No, what follows is the HuffPost’s summary of a longer, must-read article that appeared Sunday in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinal.

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.)

Posted in


Peggy (not verified) | October 21, 2009 - 3:04am

I'm making noise Barbara, every single one of us should be able to have health care .....period!


barbara | October 21, 2009 - 11:22am

Yay, Peggy! Noise is good. Here's a link for you with some additional info:

barbara says: Harry Reid is steadfastly refusing to reveal the Dem senator who will sell out to filibuster with the Republicans against the public option. Reid has consistently been an altogether ineffective majority leader. He has sold out on transparency, and in so doing, he has abandoned Dems nationwide (and actually, Republicans as well) who are desperate for meaningful health care reform that features the public option.

Please go to the FDL link below and sign on. This is one way we can make some noise.


(cut and paste or see link at beginning of this post)


Barb (not verified) | October 22, 2009 - 11:21am

Sadly enough, as who stands by Michelle as she undergoes the cancer treatments, who holds her hand when she can't raise her head from the nausea and vomiting of the chemotherapy, radiation, surgery?
For Bill, the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) will allow him ONLY a few short months leave to stand by Michelle. Many family medical situations are NOT healed in a few short months, instead they take months, and years, and even decades to adapt to the changes that illness and disability can affect a family.
There are those of us who know this routine..........sad, but true.


barbara | October 22, 2009 - 4:13pm

There are indeed those who know. Cancer should never be endured alone. Never, ever. And it's actually entirely too much for two. How will she do this? How have we come to a place where she has to? My heart hurts for this couple. We have failed them. Totally. Spread the word.