Hey Rep. Ryan, it’s clear you don’t see me as a person

Looking at Speaker Paul Ryan’s argument against Obamacare it’s all about money. Not about the people or healthcare, for that matter.

As I mentioned before, it’s been a couple of wild months filled with whirlwind activity on healthcare reform.

I wasn’t really surprised at the political shenanigans in Washington, DC. After all, this isn’t my first political rodeo.

But, I was surprised by how this one felt. This one was different.

This one felt…personal.

Not personal, in the sense that it is important to me personally or will have a direct effect on my life. Although both of those things are true. But personal in the sense that it felt like I, as a person who needs health care and insurance, am being targeted for punishment.

It all started with the budget

As with many things, it all started with money. In this case, the federal budget. How much tax money are the feds going to spend on health care?

Looking at Speaker Paul Ryan’s argument against Obamacare it’s all about money. Health insurance premiums are higher. Deductibles are higher. Subsidies are going up. Not to mention the effect this is having on the budget deficit.

Budget reconciliation was the first phase of Speaker Ryan’s three-pronged approach to “repeal and replace.” And as a tactic, it was brilliant. The process moves fast. The bill must remain focused, with no “extraneous matter.” And the American Health Care Act had a fast, focused life—going from its introduction, through committee and floor debate, to its death in just four days.

But it doesn’t end there

Once the American Health Care Act was introduced and the details became clear, the circus ring turned into a boxing ring. And I, as a patient, became the punching bag.

Each day, as another detail became clear or another analysis surfaced, i felt another body blow. Another anxiety-provoking change. Another unbelievably cruel twist.

No denial for preexisting conditions was promised. But, if there’s a gap in coverage your insurance company can charge you a 30% penalty on your annual premiums. BOOM!

No more individual mandate was declared. But, if you’re an older person insurance companies can charge you 5x the premium they charge younger (presumably healthier) people. And the individual tax breaks got a lot smaller while insurance industry tax breaks got a lot bigger. BOOM!

No more funding for Medicare expansion. States will get to decide whether to include mental health and addiction services. And the CBO estimated as many as 24 million people could lose their health care insurance. BOOM!

Really? It’s okay for 24 million people to loose health insurance? It’s okay to cut health services?

I was left punch drunk.

Where did all the good stuff go?

The American Health Care Act was all about the balance sheet. How did those figures look? More money to the insurance industry. Less money to the states.

What happened to essential health benefits? You know, the part of Obamacare that says health insurance needs to cover things like check-ups, maternity care, pediatrics, and mental health. They were nowhere to be seen.

Less coverage for the individual.

Just what kind of health insurance were people going to end up with? Who knows? Surely there would be some kind of affordable health insurance, even if it didn’t cover much of the services needed to regain or maintain health.

There. Just don’t get sick and you’ll be okay.

And if you’re already sick? Well, you’ll just have to pay for it.

 

 

The True Cost of Stigma in Type 2 Diabetes

Published by Diabetic Connect. Because type 2 diabetes is seen as preventable, we are blamed…

Published by Diabetic Connect.

http://www.diabeticconnect.com/diabetes-information-articles/general/2624-the-true-cost-of-stigma-in-type-2-diabetes

Diabetes, it’s a glass half-empty kind of thing

What if we considered the half-empty part of diabetes to be an opportunity to fill our lives with good stuff?

Every once in a while I get asked why I think people with Type 2 diabetes aren’t as active in social media as people with Type 1. We see a strong representation of people living with Type 1 in social media. Type 1s share their daily triumphs and trials, most presenting a defiant warrior-like stance in the face of “ducking fiabetes.” When we look for the Type 2 voices in social media we find fewer and they are often muted.

I used to think it was because of the age difference. Now I’m not so sure that’s the case. There are plenty of people of all ages active in social media over all.

Another thought I’ve had is that for most people with Type 2, diabetes is not central to their sense of identity. They had a whole life before diagnosis. They didn’t grow up being told their lives would be somehow limited by this chronic disease. But now it figures largely in daily routines and visions of the future.

Lately a new theory has entered my mind. It’s the idea that we tend to look at diabetes as a glass half-empty kind of thing. Much discussion about living with Type 2 diabetes centers on all the things that have to be (or should be) taken away. Carb-heavy comfort foods. Carefree daily routines. Worry-free futures that promise good health.

The emptiness of the glass shows us what is gone, never to return. There’s a sense of loss. There’s the feeling of mourning. What will replace it? Restrictions. Complicated medicine routines. Society’s blame and shame.

But what if we chose to fill that empty part of the glass with good stuff instead?

Prediabetes? Ain’t nobody got time for that!

Prediabetes? Ain’t nobody got time for that! The Ad Council’s type 2 prevention campaign misses the mark.

In the first of its kind campaign the ADA, AMA, and CDC released a series of Ad Council public service announcements aimed at preventing type 2 diabetes. The campaign is called So…Do I Have Prediabetes?

Boy did they miss the mark.

The campaign takes on a snarky tone. Now, I’ve been known to enjoy a snarky joke as much as the next person. But this snark is aimed at the patient, that just adds to the blame and shame people living with diabetes, especially type 2 diabetes, already face.

You eat bacon? Well, don’t. It’s a variation on the “Eat 100 candy bars and what do you get?” joke. We’ve all heard the punch line: Diabetes!

Only, it’s not true and it’s hateful. And when people feel blamed for their health or shamed for their behavior that disempowers them to change. Don’t believe that? Listen to what the research of Jane K. Dickinson, CDE has to say.

And what if you’re a busy mom?

Well, this busy mom doesn’t appreciate the sentiment. Yeah, busy-ness is a common excuse. I’ll cop to using it myself once or twice. Okay! I used it for about a million years while I was in pre-diabetes.

The doctor’s response to the patient saying she’s a busy mom made me think of this:

CharlieBrownLucyFootball

Lucy van Pelt pulling the football away at the last moment yet again and the ever trusting Charlie Brown taking a tumble mid-kick.

I don’t want my doctor to be paying a cruel joke on me. And I don’t want to end up the looser in this scenario.

But more damning is the image that comes to my mind when I reflect on what the busy mom says. Her distress is real. And yet her words come off more like this:

Ain't nobody got time for that!

And this is just plain wrong.

Feeling the ripples of change

Each time I share my views as a person living with diabetes it’s as if I tossed a small stone into a pond, generating ripples of change.

Looking back at 2015, one word comes to mind when I think of my life with diabetes: advocate.

Google Search: define advocate
Google Search: define advocate

I thought about and discussed advocacy a lot during this past year. Who is a diabetes patient advocate? The patient him or herself? Anyone who cares about people living with diabetes? Where does advocacy take place? In the doctor’s office? On Capital Hill? Which issue is most important to advocate for? Easy and affordable access to treatments and medical devices? A cure?

The answer to all of these questions is “Yes.”

Being an advocate and engaging in advocacy is all of these things, and so much more. Each conversation has the potential to change a person’s view of life with diabetes. Each doctor’s visit has the potential to improve the treatment that the next patient receives, and the next, and the next… Each letter written has the potential to influence the work of policymakers.

It’s as if every time a person speaks up for the rights and needs of people living with diabetes a stone is tossed into a pond, generating a ripple of change.

According to the CDC there are more than 29 million people living with diabetes in the US alone. Imagine if each of us tossed a single stone into that pond.