Baldies' Blog began originally in the UK by a 26 year old journalist with a blood cancer on a mission to inform the world about bone marrow donation.

He has since died, and I took on the cause of making cancer care more transparent for everybody.

Cancer is a disease that will touch everybody through diagnosis or affiliation: 1 in 2 men will be diagnosed and 1 in 3 woman will hear those words, "You Have Cancer."

I invite you to read how I feel along my journey and
how I am continuing to live a full life alongside my Hodgkin's lymphoma, with me controlling my cancer, not my cancer controlling me.

I hope that "Baldies' Blog" will prepare you to handle whatever life sends you, but especially if it's the message, "You Have Cancer."

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Friday, August 28, 2009

Garden Party Politics

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure." -Nelson Mandela

Thank goodness for my mom this morning.

My internal mom alarm failed to go off to get X to school.

Her phone call woke us up in time to scramble to get him to where he needed to be.

I had a late night last night having galavanted all the way across the state to a health care reform advocacy “garden party.”

I have to say, I don’t think this is quite my scene.

Everybody was very guarded and appeared nervous and uncomfortable.

The median age was about twenty years older than me, unless you were working the tables or a reporter, then I fit right in.

Clearly, I am not the stereotypical face of politics.

I DID do what I went there to do.

I spoke with BOTH Paul Hodes and Carol Shea-Porter!

Both of them, I was so excited.

Did you think I may not though?

I didn’t drive two hours across the state not to.

I managed to hand them my card, but did not have time to impart my own words of wisdom on how to quickly proceed with reform.

How I would start the huge process of reforming health care would be:

1. Tort reform for the establishment of an expert committee to determine the viability of a lawsuit that a plaintiff desires to bring before a medical staffer or hospital prior to any legal action by either parties.

This single action would decrease the costs of excessive and extraneous testing on patients by providing a safety net for care providers who prescribe in fear a frivolous lawsuit may bankrupt them. Having an expert committee decide which cases are viable prior to suit will serve as a deterrent for people who are looking to misuse the judicial process for their personal gain and save hospitals from having to settle frivolous lawsuits to avoid incurring attorney costs.

2. Offer small businesses a health care cooperative buy in program, most likely through the state’s health program offered to its employees, so they can again afford to be in business and provide health care benefits.

This move would be a “twofer” for the Granite State. Not only would it increase the number of insured by making health insurance for small business owners more affordable, it would likely stimulate more economic growth as business owners no longer have the burden of growing insurance costs that may have previously caused them to keep lower overhead costs. In short, this would provide health insurance to uninsured and provide economic growth. These are two goals everyone is looking for right now.

How would this be paid for, you may be asking.

That is very simple too. It’s a BUY-IN program. Businesses would still pay premiums, but because they are now receiving insurance at a group rate through a state cooperative, the premiums will be much less expensive. Everything would still function as normal.

These are two simple starting points that I would work for NOW as the goal of reform before 2010 hits.

I think it would establish NH as the place to watch for innovative reform steps as well.

These two simple good will measures to the medical staff and small business owners of the state will do wonders.

More importantly (and now I am on to the good stuff), I met a woman named Ann-Marie, the mother of a college age daughter, Michelle, who passed away of Colon cancer.

Michelle inspired me to write. Without her existence, I would never be speaking. Her influence is resounding even in death.

Michelle became notorious when she was diagnosed with colon cancer during her college career at Plymouth State.

Her doctors told her to take a leave of absence to undergo therapy.

The insurance company said, go ahead, take your leave of absence, but you’re not taking your insurance with you.

She remained in school while undergoing treatment only to pass away from her disease.

Her story was notorious around NH. It was whispered gossip fodder that EVERYBODY knew.

Thinking of her situation, I theorized that if she could have such a profound impact on the community just by suffering such a horrific injustice, without ever personally telling her story out loud before her death, I could certainly make leaps and bounds of change if I stepped up and started screaming and hollering.

There is just something in human nature that makes us all want to stop and stare at the carnage in a train wreck. When the components of youth, suffering, and political injustice are combined it creates a social wild fire that if harnessed could certainly be a force to be reckoned with.

I wanted to give people permission to talk about me and my disease in hopes that these discussions would bring about social change.

And it is large part due to Michelle, who I never knew.

But I met her mom last night, very briefly.

She had a huge victory yesterday in the passing of “Michelle's’s Law," UNANIMOUSLY, which states no insurance company can drop a sick child from their care due to their inability to remain in school.

This law seems self evident, yes?

Would you believe it took two years to make this a national stipulation?

The process is really going to have to change if reform is coming on the timeline I hear it might.

Really, she was the highlight of my night, and it helped that when we were talking privately Sen. Hodes, her personnal friend, walked by, and I got to meet him face-to-face, quietly!

Hopefully, he thinks he has met the next little patient who wants to bring about social change, because he certainly did.


A lil Bit O'Lula said...

Hey Hill,
Just wanted to send my love to you!

Anonymous said...

Ann-Marie, Michelle's Mom, was keynote speaker at Amanda's graduation from Plymouth State in May. Very moving speech and very strong woman - sounds familiar...

Laura Z.