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I Can Has Health Care?


Help me welcome Laura Clawson, senior writer at the AFL-CIO community affiliate Working America (and also front-page blogger on Daily Kos…shhhh. Don’t tell.). Laura joins us today for our discussion.

You’d have to be living in a cave, or in a willful veil of ignorance, not to know how people in this country are suffering in our broken health care system. If you have health insurance through your job, that’s one more reason to be desperately afraid of losing that job (with unemployment at 9.4 percent, no less;), if you get it as an individual or a family, you have to worry that your insurance company will find a reason to dump you the minute you need it most (whether you’re insured through your job or on your own, your health care costs are exploding. Then, of course, there are the 47 million people without insurance in the United States.

Blah blah blah.

But did you know that the lolcat community is suffering? If, so far, you’ve been able to push the health care crisis to the back of your mind and put off making your voice heard, how does it make you feel to see that Dr. Tinycat can’t get care because he’s out of network?

Let’s say you can ignore cases like this one from Nancy from Illinois, one of more than 26,000 such stories that poured into the AFL-CIO/Working America 2009 Health Care for America Survey:

As a melanoma skin cancer survivor, I am uninsurable—my risk is too high to be profitable for an insurance company. This means I am one job loss away from having no health insurance. As a 54-year-old, I am 11 years away from Medicaid eligibility. It’s enough to make me downright nervous. Meanwhile, costs for even those of us lucky enough to be insured are going up to cover the increasing numbers of uninsured. This is why I tell my children, at least half seriously, to emigrate if they have the chance—I fear government in the U.S. is too beholden to insurance interests and other corporate interests to be concerned with the welfare of American citizens.

Can you ignore this tiny pug pup being denied coverage?

If you’re a regular at the Lake, you’ve probably written to your elected representatives, made phone calls, taken action in other ways. But you probably also have friends and family who support real health care reform without taking that next step. Working America meets those people every day in our work on the ground in 12 states (and, like Survey USA, we find that people want real reform). In fact, our numbers are pretty much in line with theirs—when we talk to people on their doorsteps and ask them directly to take action, nearly two out of three write letters or make calls telling their elected representatives to support health care reform with a public option.

Just this Tuesday, Working America canvassers knocked on 200 doors in the small town of Delphi, Ind., where Rep. Joe Donnelly was planning a town hall meeting. They collected 150 letters addressed to Donnelly and to Sen. Evan Bayh. That’s an incredible result—and it’s also people who take the time to do something. More than that tell us they’re supportive but just don’t have time.

In addition to the phone calls we’re all making and the letters we’re all writing and the town halls we’re attending, we as a progressive movement fighting for real reform need to be targeting those people who are supportive but just don’t have time. And that’s the vein in which Working America started "I can has health care."

Because sometimes you have to try something a little different.

By now, a lot of people are a little numb. They’ve learned to tune out another sad story of a woman losing her insurance because her insurance company didn’t want to pay to treat her for cancer and dug up an old dermatologist appointment for acne that she hadn’t told them about when she purchased the insurance.

They tune it out because if they confronted it head on, they’d realize how scared they needed to be in our current broken system. And I’m sure we’re all familiar with that feeling, that you just can’t take any more bad news so you’re going to close your eyes and hope it goes away. Maybe if we put it in a new frame, get the element of surprise and maybe some laughter, a few more people will face up to just how important they know—buried somewhere in their hearts—health care reform is. And really, that’s how we build movements: A few people at a time.

So, please, send them on to your friends. You can see all our current lolcats and dogs and others here.

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