Amen. Hallelujah. God bless America.
Health care passed.
I am one of the few taxpayers who does not care how much I must pay in taxes to guarantee that everyone in this country — and I mean everyone — receives the medical care they need when they are hurt or sick.
To me, this is not a political battle. It is common sense. We take care of each other. When someone is hurt, sick or in pain, you help them. That’s how I was raised. My mother called it The Golden Rule: “Do unto other as you would have them to unto you.” It is that simple.
Nowhere is universal health care going to have a greater impact than in mental health care. No one knows how many people suffer with mental illness because they cannot get insurance. No one knows how many people pay out of pocket for their visits to the psychiatrist and therapy because they do not want anyone — especially an insurance company — to know they have a mental illness. No one knows how many people with mental illnesses self-medicate with drugs and alcohol because they cannot afford their medications.
The mentally ill are virtually uninsurable. Insurance companies know that depression is the number one cause of workplace disability. Insurance companies know that depression, bipolar, Schizophrenia, and other mental illnesses are costly and chronic illnesses that last a lifetime. That is why for as long as anyone can remember, insurance companies have charged separate, higher premiums for mental health care, imposed limitations on office visits and in-patient hospitalization and separate deductibles for psychiatric medications.
Of course, it is equally important to provide people with cancer, diabetes, heart disease and other physical ailments with coverage. But when we give the mentally ill the treatment and medications they need, we stop someone from putting a gun in their mouth, from backhanding a toddler, from roaming the streets in greasy clothes and matted hair, from missing work, from dropping out, from getting a divorce, from going to the emergency room and from committing a crime.
The trickle-down effect of treating mental illness is financially monumental. You see, most of the people behind bars in this country have at least one untreated mental illness. One out of every five of us is an alcoholic (yes, alcoholism IS a mental illness). Nearly everyone who commits suicide is mentally ill. Imagine if every person with schizophrenia was able to get — even encouraged to get — free medication and treatment. Do you have any idea what that would do to our homeless populations and our emergency rooms?
Instead of worrying about my bank balance, I choose to think about the children who will never cower in terror when a parent with bipolar disorder rages. I think about the marriage that will be saved and masculinity and self-esteem restored when a husband gets help for his depression. I could go on but I don’t need to. You either see where I am coming from or you do not.
I do not worry about things like socialism or Tea Parties. The politics of the health care debate has made me sick. I just want to make sure that everyone who needs medical care gets it and I am willing to do whatever I can to make that happen.
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Last reviewed: 22 Mar 2010