Health care update: let’s kill this bill, drive a stake through its heart, encase it in cement and bury it at the bottom of the ocean

(Just in case there was any doubt where I stand.)

The bill that the Congressional Budget Office has already estimated would uninsure 24 million Americans over the next ten years got even worse today, when the Fake President agreed to allow insurance companies to sell fake insurance.

This was one of the key demands of the House “Freedom Caucus,” for whom uninsuring 24 million Americans in order to give a tax break to individuals earning more than $200,000 a year is not enough. They also want to give insurance companies the freedom to sell insurance that covers, basically, nothing. This morning, ace negotiator Donald Trump acceded to that demand.

For cancer survivors like me – and for anyone else with significant medical needs, or a significant likelihood of developing significant medical needs – this is a disaster.

Eliminating the requirement that all insurance policies cover essential health benefits would allow insurance companies to drop such frivolous benefits as maternity care or chemotherapy. The stated rationale: individuals shouldn’t be forced to pay for coverage they don’t want.

Let’s pause here for a second to let that sink in.

(Pause.) Continue reading

No surprise

Is anyone honestly surprised that the steaming pile of poo being offered as a “replacement” for the Affordable Care Act would result in 24 million more uninsured Americans over the next ten years?

Let’s be clear: despite the Fake President’s huckster promises of “beautiful” coverage for everyone, repeal is not now and never has been about making health care more accessible and affordable.

It’s about deregulating the business community (congratulations! your employer can now drop your coverage with impunity! enjoy that Health Savings Account, sucker!), enriching insurance company executives (no more caps on compensation, yay! total freedom to use your premium dollars for salaries, not medical care!) and – first and foremost – cutting taxes for the very rich (wait, do you think this means you?  hahahahahahahahahahaha, that’s so cute that I ran out of “ha’s”). Continue reading

Eating Nostrand Avenue: Taste the Tropics

imageSunny and 63 degrees in the second week of February! On the last such frighteningly unseasonable day, a few weeks ago, I arranged my tempo run (expect a Boston marathon training post soon) so that my cool down would end right around Nostrand and Avenue D. That’s where Taste the Tropics dominates its corner through sheer exuberance and force of personality. Continue reading

Bodega strike

imageYesterday, Yemeni bodega owners across New York City went on a half-day strike against the Fake President’s Muslim ban, shuttering their stores at noon. (If you’re not from here, a word of explanation: bodegas are small neighborhood stores that sell groceries, sundries and quick eats, like the bacon-egg-and-cheese sandwiches that fuel city mornings.) You can read about the action – which drew thousands to a demonstration and prayer service outside Brooklyn Borough Hall – here.

This morning, the window of the bodega at the corner of Fifth Avenue and Fifth Street in Park Slope was plastered with messages of support from school kids, other Fifth Avenue businesses and neighborhood residents.

I went in and bought a 4-pack of toilet paper, just because.

The way it should be

imageThese are scary times. But even as the rhetoric from the White House gets falser and crazier, I’m hopeful. I was moved to tears by the enormous gathering that filled Central Park West from Columbus Circle to 67th street the night before the Fake President’s underwhelming inauguration. And I was beyond moved – stunned, really – by the mass movement of cars and buses down I-95 early Saturday morning; by the commandeering of half the men’s room at the Maryland House rest stop by women in pink pussy hats, aided and abetted by a middle-aged, white, male security guard; by the lines that snaked around the parking structures at the Shady Grove metro station; by the spirit of cheerful cooperation as we made our slow way through the outside line, then the inside line, then onto the train; and, of course, by the Women’s March itself.

I’m also finding hope in small acts of decency that show how different we are from the Fake President’s dystopian vision. Continue reading

Breast cancer, the Affordable Care Act, my friend and me (and why you should care)

In one of life’s little ironies, this National Day of Action to preserve Americans’ access to health care coincides with the ninth anniversary of my breast cancer diagnosis.

January 15, 2008 was a Tuesday, and I was sitting in my office when my secretary put through the call from my doctor. I can’t remember what I was doing at the time, what I did afterwards, or much else, really. Quite a bit has faded over the past almost-a-decade, even in the two years since I wrote this 2015 post.

The important thing was that I was sitting in my office. Which is to say: I had a job, and it was the kind of job that comes with an office, someone to take calls for you, and health insurance.

So as I went through treatment – which involved too many scans and biopsies to remember, surgery, a fairly grueling course of chemotherapy and eight years of anti-hormonal drugs – I was cocooned in a security blanket of comprehensive coverage. Continue reading

2016 in birds: the final tally

image

So long, 2016

249.

That’s my final count of bird species seen in the five boroughs of New York City over the course of the last year. Number 1 was monk parakeet, a flock of which were squawking in the tree across the street when I opened the front door last New Year’s Day and officially launched my biggish year. Number 249 was white-winged scoter, seen from the beach at Fort Tilden, Queens, yesterday morning. Continue reading