International Chair

  • Romney Care was a life saver that should be available to all #DAresists #Medicare4all

    My mother contracted Alzheimer’s in her mid 70s (about 20 years ago) after a fall and a hospital stay that required giving her morphine for the pain. Although she her broken ribs healed, her mind was never the same. Her general forgetfulness turned into otherworldliness. The cost of in-home daycare was prohibitive and after we got home, still wiped us out each night trying to keep up with her. She was still ambulatory, but was out of our control — sort of like a large 3-year old. After a few years of shuffling her back and forth between family homes every six months or so (my brother in Massachusetts, a cousin in Florida and eventually me in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico), It was obvious we couldn't care for her that way any longer. She had worked all her life at low-income wages, had her own home, but couldn't live there any longer alone and her income was only about 600 dollars in social security per month. We looked into rest homes in Massachusetts, where my brother could keep an eye on her, but we couldn't afford them — the minimum cost was about 3,000 U.S. per month. My brother and Icould only come up with about 400-500 dollars per month each from our meager incomes. So we sold her home and she stayed in Mexico, where a rest home run by a well-respected gerontologist could take care of her for less than 14,000 dollars per year, everything included.She got progressively less responsive and finally couldn't recognize her family. Eventually, after almost eight years here in Mexico, even with us chipping in the money ran out, and we looked for other options. Ex-Governor Mitt Romney had run for president and while bad mouthing government-paid health care to appease the Republican base, but had left a fantastic system in place in Massachusetts. So we flew Mom home from Guadalajara (not an easy task) and worked the system for a couple of difficult months with expensive in-home care until we were able to get her into a rest home in Hyannis, were my brother could see her a few times a week and other nearby relatives could check in on her. The state health care system paid for everything and even left my brother with a few dollars each month from what was left from her meager social security so he could get her hair cut, buy her new clothes, some glasses so she could see us, ect. She passed away three years ago at 91 years old.We were thankful that she was well cared for her last three years in her home state and that we weren’t bankrupt in the process. I think that people who work their whole lives and play by the rules shouldn’t be dumped because they weren’t in a high-earning bracket.Most of the people I know make less than their parents did in the 1950s ‘60s and ‘70s, when the U.S. working class had pretty good wages and benefits. My dad, a fellow who never went to college, but is one of the Great Generation, who went to WWII and worked for the federal and state governments, makes more with his various pensions than I can take home with my white-collar job running my own business. That sums up a lot of working folks situations these days. If health care for the working class isn’t a priority for a nation that spends more on health care then any country in the world, then why should national cohesion be expected?How can we be expected to be good citizens when the country takes us for granted? I don’t advocate a socialized economy, but I think what I’ve read and heard about universal health care coverage is part of what makes the United States a great nation. It takes care of its own.I do not think that leaving the half of the nation that can least afford it to fend for itself when the chips are down is part of the American dream, that the Great Generation fought for or part of the legacy they left us. I've lived in Mexico for the past 27 years and see what unequal systems can do to destabilize national cohesion — and this in a fairly homogeneous country. In a country like the U.S. where more than 30 percent of the population are immigrants, only the rule of law and the idea of fairness can keep the country united. Don't let inequality in one of the most basic situations in life —the health of the nation's people — make the country I have been mostly proud to call mine turn into a place where only the rich can survive. Sean Godfrey Former Massachusetts resident Registered Democrat

  • tagged Health Care refugees in Germany #DAresists #Medicare4all with approved 2017-10-03 12:16:55 -0400

    Health Care refugees in Germany #DAresists #Medicare4all

    With health care under attack in the United States, we are now having to come to grips with Americans living abroad becoming health care exiles, not only because of pre-existing conditions, but because of quality and cost of health care overall. Jim and Jane P. are both health care exiles. They moved to Germany for work twenty years ago (while in their 50’s) and decided to retire here. However, like many Americans, most of their assets are in the United States as well as their home. While they are proud Americans, they cannot live there. Four years after retiring, Jane was diagnosed with Castleman’s Disease, a rare autoimmune disease affecting the lymph system. They were informed that there were just 2 specialists in the world who could help, one being a German-trained Dutch doctor in Little Rock, Arkansas. The German health care law states that if they cannot treat a disease in Germany, they have to send you where it can be treated. The German system paid for both to go to the U.S. (flight and accommodation) and Medicare paid for the 3-month hospital stay. According to U.S. regulations, Jane could not stay more than 3 months in the hospital as her treatment could technically be done as out-patient. While the cost of the experimental drug was $10, the cost of administering was $10,000 (due to profit and malpractice insurance) per treatment. Jim and Jane would have had to pay this out-of-pocket had they stayed in the U.S. after the 3 months. They returned to Germany where Jane went through two years of chemotherapy (total out-of-pocket excluding monthly insurance premiums was around €3,000 as opposed to an estimated $100-200K in the U.S.) Jane has been cancer-free for the past four years. Jim had a heart attack last year and needed a triple by-pass. His total out-of-pocket cost was €310 for ten days in hospital and three weeks in rehab. Prescription drugs for blood pressure are limited to €10 for a 3-month refill. Their monthly insurance premiums are 15.7% of their gross income with a cap in Germany of €700 per month. Jim is actively lobbying the Senate with his proposal for fully-funded healthcare. The response so far has been null, which means that we all need to step up our efforts to help our Congressmen and Senators understand that this is the “art of the possible” not a pipe dream.

  • tagged Joe Smallhoover's Hit by a car while rollerblading #DAresists #Medicare4all with approved 2017-09-26 17:11:56 -0400

    Hit by a car while rollerblading #DAresists #Medicare4all

    I live in France but spend a lot of time in Austria. Ten years ago I was side-swiped by a car while rollerblading and my right arm was severely injured -- I couldn't use it for a year. The treatment involved an ambulance, emergency care followed by six hours of surgery, a two-week hospital stay in Austria, check ups by my French orthopedic surgeon upon my return to France, lots and lots of pain killers AND ten years of weekly physical therapy. My co-pay was less than €100 all together.

  • tagged Robert Kerr's Great maternity support in the UK #DAresists #Medicare4all with approved 2017-09-26 17:11:09 -0400

    Great maternity support in the UK #DAresists #Medicare4all

    I have had great care on the NHS during two complicated pregnancies. I would also have had great care in America -- if I could afford it. My treatment would have cost tens of thousands of dollars; in the UK, it cost nothing out of pocket -- as it should be. Healthcare is not a job perk. It is essential, and it should be available to all citizens at the point of need, fully funded through taxes.

  • tagged Robert Kerr's Great eye care support in Canada! #DAresists #Medicare4all with approved 2017-09-26 17:10:54 -0400

    Great eye care support in Canada! #DAresists #Medicare4all

    I support universal healthcare because I would be blind without my retinal detachment surgery or beyond broke paying for the surgery and follow up visits for my eye. In Canada, I have experienced the best my province has to offer in terms of emergency eye surgery and all I paid for was prescriptions and hospital parking. I didn't end up in debt to the hospital and doctor as surely would have been the case had I still been in Ohio when the detachment occurred. The United States needs universal healthcare for all across all States. Emergencies happen. They shouldn't ruin lives getting treated.

  • tagged Robert Kerr's Things work GREAT in the UK #DAresists #Medicare4all with approved 2017-09-26 17:10:40 -0400

    Things work GREAT in the UK #DAresists #Medicare4all

    Less stress on Health, big benefits for society #DAresists #Medicare4all I moved to the UK over a decade ago to study music and stayed on, eventually marrying a Brit. Working in the arts comes with periods of financial uncertainty and not having to have the added worry of what would happen if I injured myself or got ill has always been a comfort. I have not had to pay for expensive private health insurance or premiums for the health concerns I've had and such savings allows me to direct my energy and income towards artistic/career decisions and continue to do good work in the arts. I think healthcare is a right and the basis of a well-functioning society. It allows space for people to fulfill their potential and contribute fully to their communities and society overall.

  • tagged Robert Kerr's Great ongoing treatment for chronic condition in Germany! #DAresists #Medicare4all with approved 2017-09-26 17:10:20 -0400

    Great ongoing treatment for chronic condition in Germany! #DAresists #Medicare4all

    I have ulcerative colitis, a chronic autoimmune disease that affects my colon. Since moving to Germany, I have had several flare-ups, including a few that have landed me in the hospital. The worst though was when I got so sick my colon was actually bleeding. I ended up in the hospital for 15 days and needed 3 blood transfusions. Because my German public health insurance is so wonderful, the entire hospital stay - blood transfusions, various medications and IV drips, food, and everything else - cost me only 150 euros. That's 10 euros a day. (At today's exchange rate, that's just under $180 for the full 15 days.) Even with insurance, lengthy hospital stays in the US cost exponentially more and can bankrupt a person. I can't imagine what this would've cost me in the US, but I'm so happy to have this kind of health insurance and that getting the treatment I needed was so affordable. It's also worth noting, I don't pay a penny for doctor appointments - it's all covered by my health insurance. If I feel myself getting sick, my doctor is happy to squeeze me in for an appointment that day or the next day, which I was never able to do in the US. I also have to take daily medication for my disease. In the US, I had to pay for those pills up front until I hit my deductible. A 3 month supply cost about $1,500 in 2011. The full price of the same medication (under a different brand) here is around $200, and because of my insurance, I only pay 10 euros for a 2 month supply. This is because Germany, like many other countries, regulates what the pharmaceutical companies can charge for drugs. They aren't allowed to jack up the price to a point where people can't afford the medicine that keeps them alive. No one should have to sacrifice their health or die because they can't afford healthcare services. Ali Garland

  • tagged Robert Kerr's Overarching experience in Canada #DAresists #Medicare4all with approved 2017-09-26 17:09:39 -0400

    Overarching experience in Canada #DAresists #Medicare4all

    I am a US citizen living in Canada. Here in Canada, everyone has excellent universal health care. Taxes here are no higher than in the US. When you need to go to the doctor or the hospital you simply go. There are no limits, copays, no concerns about particular conditions or whether you are covered. It's just like the education system, another government service paid for by your taxes. But our taxes are no worse than yours. It's just that we get something provided in exchange for paying taxes. That's what governments are for. To provide things as a group which would have been difficult to arrange as individuals. Here in Canada, we find it hard to understand why this simple obvious and important program is such an endless debate. What possible reason could there be to do anything else? Someone must have a less than honest agenda if they try to convince you otherwise. Our system is a single payer, non-profit government program, not another way for insurance companies to get rich. Thank You, Paul Peele

  • tagged Robert Kerr's A 35 year perspective from Canada! #DAresists #Medicare4all with approved 2017-09-26 17:09:12 -0400

    A 35 year perspective from Canada! #DAresists #Medicare4all

    I am a US citizen living in Canada for about 35 years. For the most part, the health care system here works well. We receive universal health care and can use our own family doctor or go to community clinic as the need arises to receive free health care. I have not found it difficult to get my own family doctor. But some individuals need to spend more time. Emergency care is always available. I personally had surgery done here successfully. My wife had a series of tests that needed to be done as ordered from her doctor and were done on time, We pay higher taxes here in Canada but that is really the price paid for universal health care - it It is also a more humane and evolved way of living! Many other countries are able to accomplish this - I hope a more united congress with participation from democrats can accomplish this. Regards, James Sofia

  • tagged Robert Kerr's Mother of 2 speaks out from Ireland #DAresists #Medicare4all with approved 2017-09-26 17:08:19 -0400

    Mother of 2 speaks out from Ireland #DAresists #Medicare4all

    When I was in my 20’s I almost died because we didn’t have health insurance and left going to the doctor to long. I ended up in the emergency room at a county hospital. I was quickly seen and released because of the amount of people waiting to be seen. An exam by the emergency room doctor showed I had a kidney infection. I was put on antibiotics and told to rest. What the exam didn’t show was that I also had a blockage in one of my fallopian tubes. The combination of antibiotics and pain meds made me very sick, causing dehydration and a hernia from throwing up. Another trip to an emergency clinic the following morning for dehydration lasted 6 hours, because we couldn’t afford to go back to the hospital. I was fortunate that my husband was from Ireland and we went across when I was well enough to have surgery. After, we returned my in-laws paid for our health insurance for a year; my Irish in-laws paid for US health insurance, ironic to say the least. As a mother of two daughters under the age of 25, I am so grateful that they can stay on my husbands health insurance until they start their careers and get insurance of their own. No, American citizen should have to sacrifice their health, or the health of their loved ones for lack of ability to pay. Our hospital emergency rooms, should be for the use of TRUE emergencies, not doctor visits for the poor and uninsured.

  • tagged Robert Kerr's Singing 30 years of praises from Canada! #DAresists #Medicare4all with approved 2017-09-26 17:07:51 -0400

    Singing 30 years of praises from Canada! #DAresists #Medicare4all

    I can't sing the praises of universal health care enough. When I immigrated to Canada I was pregnant. I went from paying for each prenatal visit and not knowing how I'd pay for the delivery to free prenatal care both from my family doctor and the local health nurse. Free hospitalization during even during a nursing strike and free post natal care. I had complications requiring a week stay in hospital. I paid nothing. Now, over 30 years later my family and I never worry about how we are going to afford health care nor health care premiums. In my province the poor pay no premiums. And we choose a doctor of our choice (not limited to any one HMO plan). My son requires ongoing specialist care - completely free. No problem with a sub-class of service due to his lack of income (disability pension only). He sees the same specialists as everyone else. I hear from my family in the US about their worries about health care both quality and cost. I have a sister who had to refinance her home just to afford the deductible for a surgery. I have never had to worry about obtaining or affording quality health care since residing in Canada. It's a blessing beyond measure.

  • tagged Robert Kerr's $7.00 for tonsillectomy in Canada (mid 70s!) #DAresists #Medicare4all with approved 2017-09-26 17:07:23 -0400

    $7.00 for tonsillectomy in Canada (mid 70s!) #DAresists #Medicare4all

    To Whom It May Concern in the USA— From my youngest daughter’s $7.00 tonsillectomy in the mid-70s to my recent hospital overnight sleep apnea test (“free”—covered by my taxes and an annual family insurance cost of just over $1,000 per year with no direct out of pocket expenses for the hospital stay or sophisticated testing), as a USAmerican citizen living in CANADA (and voting regularly in CO) it escapes me the resistance to universal, single payer health care coverage in the USA! R. G. Doll, BC

  • tagged Robert Kerr's A lifetime of perspective from Canada #DAresists #Medicare4all with approved 2017-09-26 17:06:35 -0400

    A lifetime of perspective from Canada #DAresists #Medicare4all

    I have lived in Canada virtually my whole life. I have been privileged to have had access to the Canadian universal health system. It is true for elective assistance, one is in a queue , but for emergencies, the system can't be beat . Widely known that the Canadian per capita expenditure on health care is approximately 50% of the US expenditure and that includes the whole population. My doctor friends are supportive because when a patient appears at their door, they are all treated the same without regard to ability to pay. Hard to believe, as was pointed out in the most recent presidential campaign,the US is the only country in the developed world that does not have universal health care for its citizens. There does not seem to be the same hang-up about government assistance to the victims of hurricanes! Stephen Freedhoff

  • tagged Robert Kerr's Overall satisfaction in Canada #DAresists #Medicare4all with approved 2017-09-26 17:06:06 -0400

    Overall satisfaction in Canada #DAresists #Medicare4all

    I live in Canada which has a single payer universal healthcare system. While it has its problems with regard to aging infrastructure, wait times for some elective surgery and doctor shortages in some areas, I am very satisfied with the system overall. The general population in Canada is healthier because visits to doctors and treatments don't cost anything except in taxes. This makes preventative as well as curative health care available and accessible to all. Within Canada healthcare varies somewhat from province to province because of the funding structure. I think some European countries have done it better, and I would encourage those designing a new system for the US to take the best of several systems, but public funding and universality are fundamental. Catherine Kingston

  • tagged Robert Kerr's Lifesaving cancer treatment in Canada #DAresists #Medicare4all with approved 2017-09-26 17:05:44 -0400

    Lifesaving cancer treatment in Canada #DAresists #Medicare4all

    My husband, Leonard Kosiec, was diagnosed with esophagus cancer in October of 2011. He was admitted to the Foot Hills hospital in Calgary in December, 2011 and had his esophagus removed. The Canadian system was timely and the doctors and other health professionals excellent. In March of 2012, he was admitted to the Kelowna Cancer Centre for chemo and radiation. There he received both excellent personal and professional treatment. We were hopeful that he had made a full recovery. However, in October of 2012, there was signs that the caner was returning. From this time until he passed away in December of 2012, the Canadian system gave him excellent attention and care both with local doctors and at the hospital. We had not doubt but what he had the best research and care available. During this time, we had no personal medical expenses. This would not have happened in the United States. We would have lost our home and been in heavy debt. The Canadian system works in an efficient and ethical manner. The United States should adopt the model. Barbara McFarlin-Kosiec, Ph. D., Leadership

  • tagged Robert Kerr's Great coverage for a pre-existing condition in Canada! #DAresists #Medicare4all with approved 2017-09-26 17:05:20 -0400

    Great coverage for a pre-existing condition in Canada! #DAresists #Medicare4all

    Hi, there. I just thought I would offer my experience using the Universal Healthcare system in Canada. At about the time I moved to Canada, I was diagnosed with Mixed Connective Tissue Disorder (MCTD)---while still living in Atlanta., Georgia I remember anxiously waiting while the insurance company approved the tests my doctor said I required as well as the medications to relieve my pain. When I moved to Canada, I had not signed up for the Medical Services Plan (MSP) ($!08/month for my entire family), so I had to get some meds and tests and pay out of pocket. I was stunned at how much less the same treatments costs in Canada! After signing on to the MSP, all of my healthcare needs are covered, with the exception of prescriptions--although there is a Pharmacare system that adjusts the cost of prescriptions according to your income. I have been in Canada now for 15 years and love how my doctor can order a test and it is done. I don't have to wait for procedures, with the exception of surgeries. The surgery wait times are always being addressed and improved. The queue is organized in a triage-like fashion. If I have a life threatening situation, I am in surgery immediately and others are bumped. I don't mind being bumped because the other person is helped and the system is providing high-quality care in a timely fashion, based on patient need. As I understand it, many physicians left Canada when the country first changed to universal healthcare amid cries of Canada becoming a socialist or communist state....the usual epithets hurled when folks get nervous about a change. I can honestly tell you that I wouldn't want any other kind of healthcare and, returning to the US would make me quite nervous in terms of what would be covered and approved by folks sitting at a computer with a checklist rather than the doctor who knows my personal situation. My MCTD morphed into Rheumatoid Arthritis, as it often can. It is a very serious condition that requires close monitoring, which I get from a specialist, just as I would in America--only I am referred and it happens....No one can tell me I can't have a procedure done. My doctors and I are in charge of my healthcare decisions, not profit-making businesses. With this focus on healthcare, I find that my doctors give me extraordinary amounts of consultation time. Patients get 15 minutes with a doctor here. FIFTEEN MINUTES! I was lucky to even see the doctor in the States and if I did, it would only be for about 3 minutes. Please don't believe the fear-mongering of folks that stand to profit from continuing the American healthcare system the way it has been done. Singe-payer is the way to go. Cheers, Jack Dr. J. Lucius Edwards Victoria Conservatory of Music

  • tagged Robert Kerr's Cancer coverage in Switzerland #DAresists #Medicare4all with approved 2017-09-26 17:03:07 -0400

    Cancer coverage in Switzerland #DAresists #Medicare4all

    Cancer sucks, but cancer in Switzerland does not bankrupt you and does not require a masters degree in Bureaucracy and Insurance Codes to get BETTER treatment than in the US. As a 2nd generation cancer person (mom had breast cancer in the US, I got it while living here) I can compare the level of care, the medicines used, and the paperwork burden (almost nonexistent here) and am planning to never return to the US system unless forced. Kay

  • tagged Robert Kerr's Simply happy to have coverage in Canada! #DAresists #Medicare4all with approved 2017-09-26 17:02:48 -0400

    Simply happy to have coverage in Canada! #DAresists #Medicare4all

    When I got my residency in Canada I was told I was covered by their healthcare system which is single payer, universal care. To my surprise I felt liberated and safe in a way I never felt in the US. I was no longer chained to an expensive, unforgiving insurance company whose primary purpose was not the health of Americans but their own profit margin. I remain a happy resident and citizen of Canada, and receive excellent if not perfect healthcare. Rachel Ps: no copay

  • tagged Robert Kerr's A helpful roundup from Costa Rica #DAresists #Medicare4all with approved 2017-09-26 17:02:32 -0400

    A helpful roundup from Costa Rica #DAresists #Medicare4all

    Regarding Costa Rica's public health care system, I have belonged to the CAJA for 19 years. The cost based on income is affordable. I pay on a voluntary basis. I pay per month. I receive all medical treatment and prescriptions without additional cost. However I supplement CAJA care with private specialists such as my dentist and ophthalmologist. I pay for eyeglasses myself. These services are available through the CAJA but I prefer having my choice of providers in these cases. Lynda Page

  • $30,000 in U.S. vice 10 Euros in Germany -- and the 10 Euros goes further! #DAresists #Medicare4all

    While I was in college Ohio, I had a severe staph infection and had to be hospitalizd for nearly a month. When I returned home, I still needed outpatient care for about 3 weeks. I had a Student Healthcare plan, but the insurance company denied payment b/c of pre-existing conditions. (I suffer from extreme neurodermitis since birth, and the staph infection is a common secondary effect). I wound up owing the hospital nearly 30,000 dollars. Fast forward 3 years. I am laying in a hospital in Germany for a month, and have only been insured for 10 months. I paid but 10 Euros (roughly the same in dollars) a day for care and treatment rivaling that which I received in the US. I also suffer from allergies, asthma, and Keratoconus, and require constant medical aid, which is only affordable through Universal Health Care. In the US, I constantly lost or had to give up jobs b/c of my condition. Thanks to Germanys fair and stable Universal Health Care system, I can work steadily and enjoy life with my family. -- Pay attention and listen to the sayings of the wise; apply your heart to what I teach, for it is pleasing when you keep them in your heart and have all of them ready on your lips. - Proverbs 22:17-18