Donna Smith, American SiCKO, is executive director of the Health Care for All Colorado Foundation
You’ve seen them. I’ve seen them. Around Labor Day especially. Firefighters standing on the street corners of America with firefighters’ boots collecting money for Jerry’s kids, kids who have muscular dystrophy. What we often don’t see or hear are the stories behind some of those street-corner firefighter-fundraisers.
I heard one this week that still has me shaking my head. And while I know many people think the patient stories don’t matter any more and that the horror stories cannot change the reality, I still believe it is the inhumanity of it all that will ultimately push us to create a system in which firefighters will not stand on street corners collecting money for research foundations while they cannot even access the healthcare their own families need.
While flying through Salt Lake City this week, I sat next to a firefighter’s wife. She is a teacher. They live in Utah where they are the parents of six children. Michelle’s firefighter-husband works four jobs in order to support his family. She was on her way to help her daughter who has a six-month-old baby pack up her apartment to go to Okinawa, Japan with her U.S. military member son-in-law. This is a remarkable family giving their all to one another, to their community and to their nation.
But there is one way in which this terrific family is not remarkable. They cannot afford the care their son with muscular dystrophy needs – even though they pay hundreds every month for healthcare coverage.
The boy with MD needs a genetic test that costs $22,000. Insurance won’t pay it because they do not cover it for his more rare type of MD. If he has the test, he may be able to qualify to be a part of some clinical drug trials that could make his life much better. Those trials would be free-of-charge to the family, in part because of funding from the Muscular Dystrophy Association so elevated by the Jerry Lewis annual telethon and the efforts of firefighters. But, no matter. Unless the boy has the $22,000 test, he cannot be included.
Imagine the adults in this family working four or five jobs, purchasing insurance coverage and still not being able to afford the care needed.
Imagine a firefighter standing on the street corner – as this Utah dad does – raising money for MDA, Jerry’s kids, yet unable to secure the care his own son needs.
Imagine the system that does this to the firefighter and a teacher who are parents of a military service member. Yet, nothing in the new health insurance reform legislation passed in Congress this year changes this reality for this family. The insurance companies made sure they’d not have to cover the firefighter’s kid with a rare form of MD. And if the legislation is repealed, the firefighter’s kid is still out of luck.
The truth is that until we decide together that providing a single standard of high quality care for all including firefighters’ kids and all of Jerry’s kids we will continue to leave heroes in the street holding boots out to collect dollars that they can never use to help heal their own babies. Shameful stuff here.
And of all the things I learned on that short flight about Michelle, the firefighters’ wife, it is that no one should heap shame on this family, and certainly not because they aren’t contributing to making this nation better. As I watched her eyes and heard her repeat the figure -- $22,000 -- I couldn’t help but think how little that really is when a 14-year-old’s quality of life is at stake.
Michelle was born in Canada. She knows that things could be different. She knows that providing healthcare to your citizens as Canada does is not throwing democracy out the window. She a teacher, and she’s smarter than that. She had no problem saying that an improved Medicare for all system would not only be good for her son but also for her firefighter husband – the fellow working four jobs to keep the ship afloat.
Apparently, we haven’t yet had enough of these kinds of tragedies to force us to stand up together – shoulder-to-shoulder – and say we want healthcare for all. The firefighter’s son and our own kids deserve no less. Onward
April 22nd, 2014
FRANCIS RICHARD MOORE, 92, of FLINT/DAVISON, MI Passed away on Saturday, April 19, 2014, in Escondido, CAHe was Frank to all who knew and loved him, and there were many. ...
January 28th, 2014
In the State of the Union address tonight, President Obama is going to call for a national minimum wage of $10.10. Then in their response ...
January 21st, 2014
My New Year's Day op-ed in the New York Times seems to have kickstarted a discussion about how to make Obamacare better. I hope you ...
December 18th, 2013
This morning it was announced by the Library of Congress and the National Film Preservation Board that my first film, 'Roger & Me', has been ...
December 14th, 2013
[View the story "Michael Moore Tweets on Eve of Newtown Anniversay" on Storify]
November 9th, 2013
Click here for this week's full schedule for the State Theatre and Bijou by the Bay in Traverse City, Michigan. The day has arrived. For ...
September 10th, 2013
[View the story "John Kerry's Accidental Diplomacy" on Storify]
September 11th, 2010
OpenMike 9/11/10 Michael Moore's daily blog I am opposed to the building of the "mosque" two blocks from Ground Zero. I want it built on ...
December 14th, 2010
Yesterday, in the Westminster Magistrates Court in London, the lawyers for WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange presented to the judge a document from me stating that ...
May 12th, 2011
"The Nazis killed tens of MILLIONS. They got a trial. Why? Because we're not like them. We're Americans. We roll different." – Michael Moore in ...
November 22nd, 2011
This past weekend I participated in a four-hour meeting of Occupy Wall Street activists whose job it is to come up with the vision and ...
September 22nd, 2011
I encourage everyone I know to never travel to Georgia, never buy anything made in Georgia, to never do business in Georgia. I will ask ...
December 16th, 2010
Dear Swedish Government: Hi there -- or as you all say, Hallå! You know, all of us here in the U.S. love your country. Your ...
November 2nd, 2010
This letter contains (almost) no criticisms of how the Democrats have brought this day of reckoning upon themselves. That -- and where to go from ...