You read the title correctly, JJPers.  And yet, it’s not what you’re probably thinking.

I’m thinking about those who are married and get the vow of “in sickness and in health” sorely challenged when one of the partners gets sick and his or her illness has major catastrophic consequences.  Once again, hat tip to Nicholas Kristoff of the New York Times, via Crooks and Liars, where I found the following excerpt about a couple who are facing humungous medical bills and no health care coverage to pay for it:

My friend M. — you’ll understand in a moment why she’s terrified of my using her name — had to make a searing decision a year ago. She was married to a sweet, gentle man whom she loved, but who had become increasingly absent-minded. Finally, he was diagnosed with early-onset dementia.

The disease is degenerative, and he will become steadily less able to care for himself. At some point, as his medical needs multiply, he will probably need to be institutionalized.

The hospital arranged a conference call with a social worker, who outlined how the dementia and its financial toll on the family would progress, and then added, out of the blue: “Maybe you should divorce.” (emphasis mine, WTF?)

“I was blown away,” M. told me. But, she said, the hospital staff members explained that they had seen it all before, many times. If M.’s husband required long-term care, the costs would be catastrophic even for a middle-class family with savings.

Some of you have hollered that there’s no legislation that’s been signed yet, so we shouldn’t worry about whether or not the Public Option is included until the bill is actually SIGNED INTO LAW.

To which I contend that if the Public Option is not included in the bill, by the time the bill is signed INTO LAW, IT WILL BE TOO LATE.  And in the wake of the passing of Senator Ted Kennedy, what better time to press for the public option than RIGHT NOW?

Since I have worked in Federal Agencies and have interacted with people on the Hill who actually write legislation for a living, I sought out some of them to ask about the Public Option and when it should be included.  All have said that waiting for the public option to be included after it becomes law IS NOT GOING TO HAPPEN (Got this straight from John Conyers’ office).  All proposed legislation has to have what its going to have in it before it becomes law.  Before it goes to a process known as “Mark Up”, where the committees decide what’s going to be in the bill and what’s coming out of the bill.  So, if the Public Option on Health Care Reform is not included at the time of Marking UP the Bill, it’s not going to happen, people.

Therefore, we should consider that the Public Option is one way of protecting people from going into bankruptcy or home foreclosure, or being forced to get a divorce, because they are trying to cover medical bills of a catastrophic nature.  The Public Option allows for preventative health care maintenance – being able to see your physician on the regular so they can catch those little hiccups before they become major medical issues.  The Public Option may afford you a visit to a nutritionist so you can make low-fat versions of Big Mama’s peach cobbler or sweet potato pie and low-sodium versions of Fried Chicken or collard greens, so you can be healthy while eating well.

Consider that if your spouse is diagnosed with early-onset dementia, like M’s husband, the Public Option may help you stay married so you can care for your spouse, thereby honoring the marriage vow, “In Sickness and In Health”.

I think we all agree that the Public Option is worth fighting for, because it benefits All of US.  Those who fight so hard against it; instead of name-calling, I want you to tell me why you’re against something that benefits All Americans, and be articulate about it, because the scary Sean Klannity/Lou Dobbs/Glen “I see scary Black People” Beck-talking points are not going to cut it anymore.

What kind of a nation we live in when those who need health care coverage the most, are going to be DENIED?

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