Saturday, December 24, 2011

American Healthcare Hassles: Part II

    Any of you diabetics reading this know what I feel like with my sugar levels going up throughout the day, as you have also suffered the same dilemma on more than one occasion. The nausea, weakness, and the dry mouth alone would make most normal people wish that they were dead. Forget about the risk of coma after a certain point, and possible death.

   So how did the day end?

    Well, after being unable to find any cash by either a loan from friends, or a little bit of work, I decided to make my way to the closest emergency room some 3 miles away. I did not have enough cash in pocket to be able to take the local city bus, so I started walking at 1 in the afternoon. I walk pretty quick even when feeling like shit, so I was looking at maybe a 45 minute walk. As luck would have it, I ran across some homeless friends of mine at an intersection not far from home, who told me to go into a clinic sitting at the same intersection because one of them had been treated for no charge. That is where I went to.

   Seven sheets of paper-work to fill out, no problem. Clinic did not even ask for an I.D., which was really cool. Sat in their waiting area from 1:45 until 4 waiting to see the doctor.

    Got through the exam, and got me 2 scripts for the Insulin I needed.

   Now, this clinic charges patients on a sliding-scale, there is nothing coming out of the building for free. They will bill me for the initial visit ( $ 15 ) but the meds are gonna cost up front. If I had the money, I most certainly would not have complained about the price of the Insulin ( $6 Per vial ) because it was much cheaper than having to buy at regular price. But. I did not have any money even at that price, so I was basically in the place for a little more than 3 hours and got nothing.

   At this point, I was tossing in the towel and beginning to head to the hospital, as I had originally planned. Then fortune turned to the better.

    I ran into a friend of mine who offered to buy me at least one of the vials I needed, which was just fine and dandy with me. I figured that I would pay him back whenever I was able to, but he told me “ Merry Christmas “ and not to worry about it. So that worked out great. I got at least one vial I needed, and I did not go apeshit and kill anyone.  I say that because high sugar levels tend to make me very ill and hostile to the point of actually knocking the crap out of someone.

   So I ended up with one vial ( NPH ) and I avoided a $1,000 emergency room visit.

    I am not finished with this topic, so the next time I will taking a look at just how pathetic the United States of America’s healthcare system really is.

    Nobody needing medicine that keeps them alive should have to worry about how they are going to get the stuff when an emergency situation arises and they are broke at the time.


Thursday, December 22, 2011

American Healthcare Hassles: Diabetes Issue

    This post is a flat-out rant against the bullshit that some people must go through in order to receive any medical attention, or help in getting medicine (s ) which they need in order to stay alive. I seriously doubt that the following example  happens in any other industrialized country, and I note that this is happening as I type this. This is my very own experience in trying to get medication ( Insulin )  in an emergency situation here in Tampa, Florida without having to use an emergency room.
   First, a little background.
   I have lived in Tampa since the summer of 2009, and I arrived here with a pretty messed up I.D. card. It had broke into 3 pieces after being wet while working on water fixing and cleaning pleasure craft. Obviously, it was not a Florida I.D., so I naturally made that much dreaded trip to the nearby D.M.V. office to get an I.D. card, only to discover that I needed my birth certificate. I lost my certificate while moving down to Florida, I guess, because I was not able to locate it.
    Going through the I.N.S. and all of the other agencies has been nothing but one big cluster-fuck due to the fact that some information is required on their forms that I have no way of getting, yet.  I was adopted by a German mother and an American father, so getting any info on the adoption has been a real pain in the ass, to say the least. My father was U.S. Army, so one would think that the military might be able to help, right? Nope.
    Back to the health care issue.
  With no I.D. card, I have not been able to enroll in the Hillsborough County healthcare plan that many are enrolled in. I have not had a complete physical in over a decade! Hell, I couldn't get a doctor to do one even when I had a handful of cash. The Salvation Army and other groups such as them will do nothing for you if you do not have a current I.D., so they were of no use to me. I should note that I do have an 13 year old N.C. expired driver license that I somehow ended up keeping. It is expired and of no use, even though I am not expired as of this post.
    I have lived in Tampa 3 times and there are medical records of me in at least 3 area hospitals, but it seems that even that is not good enough for identification.  Past employment and even current employment records are of no use either, it would seem. not that current employment would be of any help, since I have not worked for at least half of 2011. There is not enough work to go around here in Tampa. If there was, I would not be searching for ways to get my Insulin for free. I've been doing Insulin for 40 years and have always been able to buy my meds without government assistance up until now. Now I can't get the help because of an out of state invalid I.D.?
    I was able to register to vote here in Florida, but I will not be able to vote in the 2012 elections unless I somehow can get my I.D. I was also able to get SNAP benefits ( food stamps ) without an I.D., but no medical care or meds? WTF?
   I have had a Florida driver license in the past, and they can't just look that up with a few keystrokes?
   Here is what is going to happen unless something changes real quick.
   I am going to run out of Insulin on Friday,when all of the state offices will be closed thanks to the kindness of Governor Rick Scott, and then I will slowly begin to get a little ill. At that point, I will then be making a trip to an emergency room, where I will be hooked up to an I.V. with an Insulin drip and an Saline drip for dehydration. After about 4 or 5 hours, I will then be sent home, maybe with a prescription for Insulin which will be worthless to me since I will not have the money to pay for it. In the end, I will have a brand new hospital bill of at least $1,000 and no way to pay for it. This means that I will then begin getting collection notices and all of that shit, and it also means that the taxpayer will be footing the bill while my credit rating takes another hit from medical bills. All of this because I have no current Florida I.D. card.
   The really sad part of this whole situation is that I do not use Insulin that one needs a prescription to get. What I use costs only $25 per vial at Wal-mart, and what the prescription that I get from the hospital will cost anywhere from $35 up to $107, depending on what they try to give me, if anything.
    The taxpayers are going to get screwed and I am getting screwed also. American health care. gotta love it!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Those Republican Candidates: A French View

Le Point, France
Difficulties of the Republican Party Candidacies

By Antoine Grenapin    13 December 2011
Translated By Cynthia Perez
Edited by Gillian Palmer

France - Le Point - Original Article (French)

There are still eight of them in the race. With less than a month before the first primary elections, taking place in Iowa and New Hampshire, it is impossible to distinguish a favorite among the Republican candidates.
“It is the first time since the post-war period in which no candidate really stands out,” analyzes Vincent Michelot. Professor at the Political Science Institute of Lyon (France) specializing in the United States, he is the author of several works on American political life, including Le prĂ©sident des Etats-Unis: Un pouvoir imperial? [The president of the United States, an imperial power?] (Gallimard, 2008). Here, he passionately delivers a list of six reasons for all the suspense, a plunge into the heart of American politics.
1. There has been total redefinition of the conservative movement.
“Nixon, Reagan and Bush Jr. each gave a definition to conservatism in their time. Today, this movement, paralyzed by contradictions, staggers mostly along three major lines of division.
“First, when it comes to questions of morality, there is a distinction between ‘social’ values, which aim to defend the integrity of the family, and those of libertarians.
Concerning foreign politics, there are two clashing camps: One favors a projection of American power while the other is more of an advocate for withdrawal, that is, isolationism with the use of force only under direct threat.
“Lastly, in economic matters, there is a divide among those who'll accept a rise in taxes and those who'd prefer to lower taxes, dig the country deeper into debt and effectively ‘starve the beast.’”
2. Voters are much more right-wing than in general elections.
It is a recurring observation during each Republican primary. The candidate must unite the hard right in order to win its vote before broadening its campaign to more moderate voters. But with the emergence of the tea party movement this year, the phenomenon is even more visible.
The paradox is that this essentially populist movement flatly refuses to be represented. They want nothing to do with politicians, though certain candidates, like Michele Bachmann or Sarah Palin, have, without much success, claimed to be their voice.
3. There is a desire for renewal.
It's Mitt Romney who, in spite of the lagging polls, seems to be in the best position for getting the nomination (at 20.8 percent in the polls, following Newt Gingrich with 33.3 percent). But besides being a Mormon (which doesn't delight fundamentalists), he is a part of the Establishment.
The Republican electorate, and Americans as a whole, aspire to a renewal of the political community. They want to see new faces come onto the scene. This is most evident when we look at the approval rating of a mostly Republican Congress: Only 9 percent of Americans have a favorable image of it, an historic low.
4. The Republican Party has not made a decision.
Paradoxically, if the Establishment suffers from its image, it maintains a significant influence in the campaign. Its most important elected officials carry a lot of weight right from the beginning of the campaign. By openly supporting a candidate, it sets the course. Generally speaking, its support goes to the candidate who stands out among the others.
So far, however, no candidate has been exceptional. This explains why none of them have or can receive the party's support at present; each of their weaknesses and quirks can be blamed for this.
5. The eight candidates have many flaws.
A poll leader for a while, Herman Cain has suffered from what is called “bimbo eruption” in the United States. A series of women did in fact accuse the only black candidate of sexual harassment which in the end forced him to give up the race.
As for the current favorite, Newt Gingrich, the eldest candidate (68) in the primary, there is a wide rift between what he says and his private life. He preaches a return to family values and moral conservatism; all the while he is on his third marriage. And each time he began a new relationship, his previous one hadn't been ended.
6. The importance of foreign policy.
The blunders of Michele Bachmann (wanting to close the embassy in Tehran...which has been closed since 1979) and of Newt Gingrich (qualifying the Palestinians as an "invented people"), as well as the once favorite Rick Perry's hesitations on questions over foreign policy, have all helped to weaken certain candidates.
It should not be forgotten that in this field, voters always have qualms about voting for candidates who unsure on this issue because they know they are not only electing the next president but also the commander in chief.
For the moment, only two of the candidates, Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman, are qualified in the matter. But it's just the beginning the primary election process; the more it advances, the more the candidates will be surrounded by advisers and refine their speech. An election only depends on foreign policy during times of war. But blunders will still ban you from becoming the ideal candidate.


Christmas is No Time to Talk About War and Peace

Monday, December 19, 2011 by

by Jim Rigby

When I heard the President speak to returning troops last week, my mind flashed back to an article I once wrote for our local newspaper. Each week a different member of the local clergy would write a column, and I had been asked to write the piece for Christmas. That year all I could hear was the drumbeat leading toward a war with Iraq. I racked my brain trying to think of a way to put faces on the people we were about to bomb. Looking at a nativity scene I thought, “the people we are about to kill look like that.” Maybe a reframed Christmas story could help Americans stop hating Saddam long enough to care about the people who will pay the real cost of this invasion. I submitted the following article, covering the Christmas story the way the U.S. press was covering the build-up to the Iraq war. Looking back, I should have known what was about to happen.

Christmas Cancelled as a Security Measure

ELLIS ISLAND --  The three wise men were arrested today attempting to enter the country. The Iraqi nationals were carrying massive amounts of flammable substances known as “frankincense” and “myrrh.” While not explosives themselves, experts revealed that these two substances could be used as a fuse to detonate a larger bomb. The three alleged terrorists were also carrying gold, presumably to finance the rest of their mission.

Also implicated in the plot were two Palestinians named Joseph and Mary. An anonymous source close to the family overheard Mary bragging that her son would “bring down the mighty from their thrones and lift up the lowly.” In what appears to be a call to anarchy, the couple claims their son will someday “help prisoners escape captivity.” “These people match our terrorist profile perfectly,” an official source reported.

All of the suspects claimed they heard angels singing of a new era of hope for the afflicted and poor. As one Wall Street official put it, “These one world wackos are talking about overturning the entire economic and political hierarchy that holds the civilized world together. I don’t care what some angel sang; God wants the status quo -by definition.”

A somber White House press secretary announced that it might be prudent to cancel Christmas until others in the plot are rounded up. “I assure you that this measure is temporary. The President loves Christmas as much as anyone. People can still shop and give expensive gifts, but we’re asking them not to think about world peace until after we have rid the world of evil people. For Americans to sing, ‘peace on earth, good will to all’, is just the wrong message to send to our enemies at this time.”

The strongest opponents of the Christmas ban were the representatives of retail stores, movie chains and makers of porcelain Christmas figurines. “This is a tempest in a teapot,” fumed one unnamed business owner. “No one thinks of the political meaning of Christmas any more. Christmas isn’t about a savior who will bring hope to the outcasts of the world; it’s about nativity scenes and beautiful lights. History has shown that mature people are perfectly capable of singing hymns about world peace while still supporting whatever war our leaders deem necessary. People long ago stopped tying religion to the real events in the world.”

There has been no word on where the suspects are being kept, or when their trial might be held. Authorities are asking citizens who see other foreigners resembling nativity scene figures to contact the Office of Homeland Security.

A few days after submitting that piece, I received a nervous call from an editor. “We love your story. It’s very funny.”

“Thank you,” I said waiting for the other shoe to fall.

“The thing is, we want to take out the part about Iraq and Palestine.”

After a horrified pause, I explained that had been the whole point of writing the story -- to humanize the people who were about to be killed. When I refused to gut the story, he told me they would have to drop it all together.

I shouldn’t have been surprised. Clergy who want to talk about real events in the world are seen as too political for the religious section, and too religious for the political section. Of course, if a minister gets in the pulpit and waves the flag and prays for the troops, that’s not called “political”, but if a minister questions any war, then it is considered mixing religion and politics. The resulting pablum in most clergy columns validates their strategic placement somewhere between the obituaries and the comics.

President Obama welcomes home troops at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, on Wednesday. December 14, 2011.What have we learned as a result of the war? That was answered by Obama’s words to the returning troops:

“Because of you -- because you sacrificed so much for a people that you had never met -- Iraqis have a chance to forge their own destiny. That’s part of what makes us special as Americans. Unlike the old empires, we don’t make these sacrifices for territory or for resources. We do it because it’s right. There can be no fuller expression of America’s support for self-determination than our leaving Iraq to its people. That says something about who we are.”

Looking back at my earlier Christmas article, I feel pain not pride at what the President said. His speech to returning troops could have been taken from any leader, of any nation, from any period of history, simply by changing the names and places. It is the kind of speech every leader has given since the emperors: brave and noble words, written in someone else’s blood. This President who ran, in part, against this war, has come to repeat the party line. This President, who once spoke of respect for all people of the world, has now deported more immigrants than Bush.

Hearing another speech expressing our nation’s narcissistic delusion made me physically ill. I could not help but think of the bloody wake such rhetoric leaves behind when put into action. The fact that we are leaving Iraq at this point says nothing about the purity of our initial motives. Even bank robbers don’t stay around after the crime has been committed. I appreciate trying to make our young soldiers not feel like they were pawns in someone else’s parlor game, but for the sake of future generations we must painfully remember and affirm, that is exactly what happened.

We, from the United States, are not like the people in our nativity scenes. We are like the Romans looming ominously in the background of the story. Christmas is about the little people of the world who find joy and meaning while living under someone else’s boot. We from the United States can only celebrate Christmas by ending our cultural narcissism, renouncing empire, and making room for the poor and the weak of the world like Joseph and Mary.

Christmas is not a fact of history, but Christianity’s particular symbol of every human being’s hope for world peace and universal happiness. When the angels sang, “peace on earth good will to all,” they were expressing the song written in every heart. But, that song calls us out of empire and into our entire human family. Maybe stopping the frenzy of Christmas long enough to really hear the song the angels sang to the wretched of the earth, would give us the humanity to stop hanging our Christmas lights until we no longer kill our brothers and sisters for the fuel to illumine them.

“O ye beneath life's crushing load, whose forms are bending low,

Who toil along the climbing way with painful steps and slow;

Look now, for glad and golden hours come swiftly on the wing;

Oh rest beside the weary road and hear the angels sing.”

Jim Rigby is pastor of St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Austin, TX. He can be reached at, and videos of his sermons are available online at


Monday, December 19, 2011

Dept. Of Homeland Security?

    For those of you who did not know it, Homeland Security not only takes care of keeping the United States safe from terrorist organizations and such other security measures, but the department also has the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services department under its wing.

    So, why am I bringing this up to you? To let you all know how much paper-work that one has to endure, plus the cost if you have ever lost your birth certificate, and/or identification card, and are a U.S. citizen who was born overseas and adopted by parents with one being a U.S. citizen and the other a foreigner.

    It also does not help if this part of the government bureaucracy is so big, making it hard to navigate.

    I was born in Germany in the early 60’s, and somehow ended up in an orphanage when I was months old, from what I understand. I was adopted by my real mothers sister and an American G.I. after the two were married, from what I understand.  After my fathers tour was over, we came to the United States.

    From what I understand, I have been in the states since I was 2 years of age, and my mother was naturalized in the early 70’s in the state of Kentucky. I remember that event since I was at the proceedings.

   Fast forward now to 2009.

   I moved down to Florida and discover that I no longer have my birth certificate with me. It moved somewhere else, I guess. In many, if not all states, you need that piece of paper to get a driver license or a state i.d. card. Did I mention that the birth certificate that I did have at one time was in German?

    Anyway, I go through all of the government agencies in order to try to get a new b’certificate and shelled out quite a bit of money to the Immigration and Naturalization Service for the proper forms. Then there was also money paid to the appropriate consulate for even more forms to fill out.

    What have I received in return? Nothing. Nada. Zilch. It would appear that some of the information that I gave was incorrect.

    After doing much Goggling on the Internet, looking for a different way to get the stuff that I need, I was lead to Form N-600 Application for Certificate of Citizenship at the lowly cost of only $600. $600! Has our government lost their fucking minds? Who in the hell has that kind of money to spend for a sheet of paper, especially if they are not making the kind of money needed, to just throw it out for something like this? A barely make enough money to live on and that is with much help from others.

   Give me a break, will you? I happen to be working out of a “ day-labor “ pool, when they have work, because I can’t get an i.d. to apply for any type of regular employment. My i.d. and S.S.N. were already on file at this place, or I would have been shit out of luck with work.

    These places only pay their workers the minimum wage ( $7.31 per hour ) and I am supposed to pay our government $600 to get proof that I belong here? WTF?

   The government needs some kind of organization at the federal level, or even the state level, which could help people  get their papers at an either free or a very reduced cost.

    It does not help either that much of the information that is needed is material that I have no way of knowing without some help from either the military and maybe the I.N.S. itself.

   Want to hear something really shameful? I managed to get my voter registration card from the state of Florida, without any problems at all, but I can’t vote because I have no i.d. What kind of shit is that? I applied for and receive SNAP benefits ( food stamps ) and have never stepped into the state agency that oversees the program. I did it online at a friends house.

   At the same time, I am a type-1 diabetic who has to buy my insulin from friends, when I have the cash, because I cannot get on any of the county health programs because I have no current state identification. The programs which the state of Florida have available thanks to President Obama’s healthcare overhaul, would be very beneficial to me if I could only get into one of them. Once again. No birth certificate, no i.d., no healthcare coverage.

   It is no fun being a diabetic and having to be concerned with whether or not you will have the cash in hand to buy your Insulin when the current vial either runs our or reaches its throw-away date. That date is 28 days after you begin using the vial. The Insulin breaks down and loses its potency, and it can make one very ill. Laboratory manufactured junk at a high price.

   At $107 per vial ( Lantus ) here in Tampa, that is out of reach for someone who may manage to get only 20 to 40 hours of work per month, if lucky. Most of that would comes under the table. With the Thanksgiving/Christmas/New Years Holidays, work has come to a standstill for me. Not one day of work since November 13, 2011.

   I have been using my dwindling vial of Insulin, which will be gone by December 20, for what is already a week past the 28 day discard date.

  If you do not see any posting at this site after the 20th, it is because the government killed me with their outrageous paper-work and with their high fees.         ( To be Continued ? )