Donna Smith, American SiCKO, is executive director of the Health Care for All Colorado Foundation
Jenny Fritts was 24 years old. Jenny lived with her husband Sean for the past five years, and together they had a little girl named Kylee, 2. Jenny was seven-and-a-half months pregnant with her second child - a beautiful, baby girl.
Jenny is dead. Jenny's unborn baby is dead. They died because they were turned away for appropriate care at a for-profit hospital because they did not have health insurance. Sean rushed Jenny back to another hospital when her symptoms became even more severe, and he lied about having insurance to get her in the door. She was placed on a respirator in intensive care, but she didn't make it. She died. And so did her baby.
They become two more of the more than 45,000 Americans who die preventable deaths due to our broken healthcare system every year. Two more. Mother and child.
The time to stop this has long since past.
When our members of Congress are sworn into office, they raise their right hands and take the following oath, “I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter, So help me God.”
We have a domestic enemy against whom we require defense now. More than 45,000 of us are dying every year because the enemy is advancing as the profits in the healthcare industry swell – for-profit insurance companies, drug manufacturers, for-profit hospital corporations, medical equipment makers and suppliers, financial services and Wall Street folks. Yep, they have their fingers deep into the healthcare arena too as the mortgage markets are not enough to feed the beasts of greed who market health savings and spending products and credit cards tied to insurance deductibles and co-pays and other out-of-pocket costs.
Oh, yes, capitalism loves the healthcare business. But in this business, the enemy’s advance means suffering and death. Like Jenny. Like her unborn child. And like the suffering happening in your neighborhood, your church, your kids’ school, and all around you.
Time to demand that our Congress step up to honor the oath of office they each took on our behalf to protect our Constitution and our nation. Send a letter to your U.S. Congressional Representative and to your two U.S. Senators demanding protection from this domestic enemy – the for-profit medical-industrial complex. Do it now. Do it today. Send a copy to the White House. Today. Next month might be too late.
This cannot wait. Congress is about to hand over a huge bail-out to the for-profit health insurance companies in the form of a mandate that we all purchase private health insurance (and they’ll still be able to delay and deny care ordered by our doctors). If this mandate passes into law, the for-profit giants of healthcare will become even wealthier and harder to unseat. Given billions and billions more in profit, the health insurance industry and the big pharmaceutical companies will be the domestic enemy that stops at nothing – our Constitution and the oath our elected officials take to protect it is our defense.
If we had a foreign enemy killing 44,999 more Jenny’s from Indiana every year, you can bet Congress would declare war on that enemy. Time to demand Congress do the same to defend us now. The American people are under siege in their own homes and their own bodies. Let’s get the profit motivation out of our healthcare access in America.
Let’s defend and protect our most valuable resource: our people. We still haven’t been heard. Our deaths, our home foreclosures, our bankruptcies, our struggles – not enough yet. We have to get louder. Congress needs to hear us loud and clear over the ka-ching of cash flowing into campaign war chests from the enemy – the for-profit healthcare industry giants.
Donna Smith is best known as one of the documentary subjects of Michael Moore’s 2007 movie, "SiCKO." Her journalism career includes 15 regional awards from the AP Managing Editors. Donna now works as a national single-payer healthcare advocate and community organizer for the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee, and co-chairs the Progressive Democrats of America’s national "Healthcare Not Warfare" campaign.
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