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The Dream Lives On

6:37 am in Uncategorized by thebagofhealthandpolitics

I am saddened by Senator Ted Kennedy’s death. Like any human being, he had his flaws, but his heart was in the right place, and he made this world a better place for millions of people. I am also frustrated that Kennedy was unable to see his life’s work come to fruition in the last days of his life.

Health care reform was Kennedy’s life’s work. He led efforts to overhaul the health care system in 1974, 1977, 1994, in 2005 in his home state of Massachusetts and now in 2009. It was apparent that this was the time that health care reform had a chance of passing.

But Kennedy was denied the opportunity to cast his last vote on the issue he cares most about, so some could play politics with a critical issue. Ted Kennedy couldn’t wait through the month of August, and the depressing town hall meetings where people brought signs that threatened the President’s life, told Chris Dodd–Kennedy’s friend and fellow cancer patient–to commit suicide, and auditioned for the role of the "next Joe the Plumber."

It was in this sad August that Ted Kennedy lost his life. Kennedy was unable to see his dream come to fruition so his colleagues could repeat bizarre conspiracy theories concoted by political has-beens. It was in this sad August when legitimate efforts at crafting a bill for the long-time employers of Ted Kennedy (the American people) were shouted down.

I am heartbroken, and angry, at the political turn of events that stalled health care reform long enough for Ted Kennedy to not see his life’s work come to fruition. But I also remember Kennedy’s most famous line–"the dream never dies."

And so it is. Ted Kennedy is no longer with us. But the cause lives on. There is a health care reform bill which bears Sen. Kennedy’s name, and has been voted out of Committee. In Lieu of Flowers, I believe that the Senate should send that bill to the President’s desk in memory of their late colleague.

The Tea Party Protesters Insult Cancer Patients, Belittle Disease

5:49 pm in Uncategorized by thebagofhealthandpolitics

Last year, Senator Ted Kennedy was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. This week Senator Chris Dodd, Kennedy’s friend and fill-in on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, was diagnosed with prostate cancer.

Prostate cancer is a serious disease. Nearly 30,000 Americans die every year from prostate cancer. Prostate cancer is a treatable disease–if it is caught early. As with most cancers, delays in detection and treatment frequently mean worsening symptoms and poorer outcomes.

A 2008 report by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that the uninsured were less likely to receive preventative care–like cancer screenings:

"The uninsured are less likely to receive timely preventive care. Uninsured nonelderly adults are far less likely to have had preventive care such as pap smears, mammograms, and prostate exams compared to insured adults. Consequently, uninsured cancer patients are diagnosed in later stages of the disease and die earlier than those with insurance."

Against this backdrop, Senators Dodd and Kennedy are battling cancer with the best health insurance in America–the government-run Congressional health care plan. Both Senator Dodd and Senator Kennedy have said that they are aware that they’re getting better treatment than millions of Americans. It’s why, as Kennedy put it in a Newsweek column, they want to make sure that every American has access to quality, affordable health care:

"Quality care shouldn’t depend on your financial resources, or the type of job you have, or the medical condition you face. Every American should be able to get the same treatment that U.S. senators are entitled to."

Here are two American cancer patients at the height of political power; one of these patients is spending his last days of his life fighting to make the world just a little bit better for his fellow patients. These two Senator-patients are working together to ensure that the nurse doesn’t Read the rest of this entry →