Single Payer Health Care: There’s Really No Comparison

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Debbie says:

Since the middle of last year, Laurie and I have veered somewhat away from our roots as a body image and photography blog to delve into other political issues. We’ve never written about health insurance and health care policy. Nonetheless, access to care is an essential body image issue as well as being a political issue on other fronts. Having (or not having) the freedom to take care of our bodies certainly affects how we live in your bodies, which is at the root of our body image.

In California, where Laurie and I both live, a single-payer proposal is gaining some serious traction. The proposal has passed the state senate in theory. With dollars attached, it will need more votes than it has so far. And the state assembly is somewhat more conservative than the state senate, though both have supermajorities of Democrats, so it could theoretically pass without any Republican defectors. It has a well-funded well-grounded budget study which says it will save California $40 billion/year. It has a sensible, nonburdensome revenue stream.

No one in their right mind wants the horrible American Healthcare Act (“AHCA”) to pass.  As much as I want good single-payer coverage in California — and everywhere — I would give it up in a hot second if I could trade it for keeping “Obamacare” for the rest of the U.S. However, if the AHCA does pass, that will help California move toward this proposal … and maybe that will help move the rest of the U.S., at least the parts of the U.S. that retain some semblance of sanity and some awareness of the needs of actual humans. (New York and Vermont also have proposals moving along through their state legislatures.)

My friend JP Massar has created a starkly informative chart of the contrast between the Republican’s AHCA (as passed by the House of Representatives) and the California proposal. We can’t say how the Senate might change the bill, since they’ve decided to keep that secret. Here are just a few of his points:

Under the AHCA, how much will it cost you for insurance? Variable, depending on age. For some older people,  coverage could well cost more than their annual income.

Under the California proposal? Nothing, ever.

How much will it cost you if you get sick (AHCA)? Potentially everything you have, and more. States can define what is covered (“essential benefits”) and your illness may not be covered. There could also be yearly and lifetime limits on what your insurance will pay.

(California): Nothing, ever.

If you are able to get insurance, what will your deductible be (AHCA)? Thousands of dollars. Possibly much more than now because the infamous cost-sharing subsidies would likely go away.

(California): Nothing, ever.

If you have to visit a doctor, or fill a prescription, what would your copay be (AHCA)? Whatever your insurance company thinks they can get away with.

(California): Nothing, ever.

There’s lots more, ending with:

What if I go insance because Republicans are running the country (AHCA)?> Too bad! That’s clearly a pre-existing condition.

(California): You’re covered!

Single payer health care: It’s affordable, it’s comprehensive, it’s compassionate, it’s sane. The Republican “alternatives” offer none of the above.

Every body needs care. Not to mention what we can do for, by, and with our bodies with the money we wouldn’t be spending on doctors, prescriptions, and insurance.

The Language of Gender Violence

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Laurie says:

The language that used to define and describe violence against women and children infuriates me.

I’ve been planning to post about it. I just had my attention brought Jackson Katz’s talk at Middlebury College in Vermont and it’s brilliant. He spoke on how common language is perpetuating gender violence today.

Quotes are from an excellent article in Middlebury Magazine by Robert Keren. He’s an award wining journalist.

Problems of gender violence, which include sexual violence, domestic violence, sexual abuse of children, and sexual harassment, are viewed by society as “women’s issues that some good men help out with,” rather than seen as men’s issues.

Men and masculinity “have been rendered invisible in much of the discourse” around gender violence, Katz said. This is not surprising since “dominant groups often go unchallenged in society, and their power and privilege goes unexamined.”

“[Gender violence issues] affect women at every level, but I am here to say that the very fact of just calling these issues ‘women’s issues’ is in itself part of the problem.”…

The first problem with using the term ‘women’s issues’ when talking about gender violence is it gives men an excuse to not pay attention. A lot of men hear ‘women’s issues’ and they tend to tune it out and think, ‘Hey, I’m a guy,’ and they literally don’t get past the first sentence.”

Another way that people discuss gender violence is through the use of the passive voice.

“We talk about how many women were raped last year, not about how many men raped women. We talk about how many girls in a school district were harassed last year, not about how many boys harassed girls. We talk about how many teenage girls in the state of Vermont got pregnant last year, rather than how many men and boys impregnated teenage girls.

“So you can see how the use of the passive voice has a political effect. [It] shifts the focus off of men and boys and onto girls and women. Even the term ‘violence against women’ is problematic. It’s a passive construction; there’s no active agent in the sentence. It’s a bad thing that happens to women, but when you look at that term ‘violence against women,’ nobody is doing it to them. It just happens to them…Men aren’t even a part of it!”

Next, Katz used a whiteboard on the platform at Mead Chapel (giving credit to author Julia Penelope for the exercise that followed) and wrote:

John beat Mary
Mary was beaten by John
Mary was beaten
Mary was battered
Mary is a battered woman.

The first sentence, Katz explained, “is a good English sentence: a subject, a verb, and an object.” The second sentence is the first sentence written in the passive voice, and according to Katz “a whole lot has happened. The focus has shifted from John to Mary. John is now at the end of the sentence, which means that John is very close to dropping off the map of our psychic plane. So it’s not just bad writing to use the passive voice, it’s also political. And the political effect has been to shift the focus from John to Mary.”

In the third sentence John is gone. In the fourth, the term “battered” is substituted for “beaten,” and in the final sentence of the sequence “you can see that Mary has a new identity. She is now a battered woman and John is no longer part of the conversation.” How language holds victims accountable, rather than their perpetrators, is demonstrated by the way the word “accuser” has supplanted the term “alleged victim.”

“This,” Katz stated, “is a very big shift in the conversation about sexual violence. People who come forward to allege that they have been sexually assaulted are now referred to routinely as ‘accusers.’ There’s a lot going on here with the use of this word. The public is generally positioned to identify sympathetically with the victims of sexual assault or other forms of abuse. So when you hear about a sexual assault you think, ‘That’s horrible. That’s too bad. Or that could have been me or someone I care about.’”

But using the term ‘accuser’ reverses the process, because it turns the victim into an accuser. “So we as a public are now positioned to identify sympathetically with him as the victim of her accusation, rather than with her as the victim of his alleged perpetration. This is subtle but deep, isn’t it? It’s another instance where victims are being told to sit down, shut up, and don’t come forward because if you come forward you are going to be an accuser, and then people are going to be questioning your motives…it’s just another way that we in society keep people from coming forward.”…

And he closed with a quote from Frederick Douglass, the 19th century orator and activist, who said, “It is easier to build strong children than repair broken men.”

This information has been around for at least 30 years, including Julia Penelope’s article Prescribed Passivity: The Language of Sexism.

There’s so much more to say about this, but this article is so clear and cogent it deserves to stand by itself.

Thanks to Amy Thomson and MJ Hardman