Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Salem Healthcare Vigil


I recently attended a healthcare vigil in Salem sponsored by  People were encouraged to read health care horror stories, of which there has been no shortage.  I certainly could have told stories about my own care, and that of my late mom, but it was only an hour-long event.

Here’s what I said that night:

I belong to a minority group.

I am disabled.

I’m in a minority group anyone can join.  All it takes is an accident, or bad news from the doctor.

I’ve seen this happen in my own family.  The Salem Commission on Disabilities has seen this happen to families over and over.

If you become disabled, you will probably be destitute.  Your life just changed.  To get help, you’ll likely lose or give away everything you’ve worked for in your life.  If you apply for SSI, you may have a long wait to be approved.

Sarah Palin makes a lot of fuss about her youngest, Trig, with Downs Syndrome and how he would fare with those so-called “death panels”.

Sarah has no need to fear that.  She is well-off and has considerable resources to take care of Trig.

But many families with disabled children don’t have those resources.  Their life is often changed for the worse.  Many such families love their disabled, special-needs children very much.  But it’s still very stressful, and hard on them.

We expect people to overcome their disabilities, overcome their illnesses, and overcome the insurance companies.  The Commission has seen this over and over.

70 percent of us are unemployed.  Employers aren’t willing to hire us because they’re not sure we can work but more importantly because we represent a cost on their health insurance.

Our future as people with disabiliites—all people with disabilities, not just the photogenic ones that go on TV or People magazine to look heroic and inspirational—depends much on reforming our health care system. 

It’s broken for us and all Americans.  It’s got to change.

Salem News story

Salem Gazette story

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