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Intro: "A caste system involves social restriction and social stratification with membership determined by birth and remaining fixed for life. By that definition, if the ACA (Affordable Care Act) is struck down, we will once again have a medical caste system for premature babies and every child born with any medical condition."

Premature babies and every child born with any medical condition will be members of an American caste system if the ACA is struck down. (photo: March of Dimes)
Premature babies and every child born with any medical condition will be members of an American caste system if the ACA is struck down. (photo: March of Dimes)



America's Medical Caste System

By Dr. Jen Gunter, Wielding the Lasso of Truth

11 April 12

 

am the mother of three boys, but the parent of two. My three children were born extremely prematurely, but it was just too much for my first son.

My surviving boys, Oliver and Victor, weighed 1 lb 11 oz and 1 lb 13 oz respectively. Because being born at 26 weeks (14 weeks early) just wasn't enough of a hardship, Oliver also has a serious heart defect totally unrelated to his premature delivery. He had his first heart surgery when he weighed 3 lbs. 5 oz.

My children suffer from chronic lung disease and were both on oxygen for a year. The combination of a bum heart and crappy lungs has been a terrible burden for Oliver. He has been admitted to the hospital with pneumonia more times than I care to count, a common cold has him off of school for a week, and he is always the last in phys ed. He is the happiest, sweetest boy you will ever meet, so most days it doesn't get him down.

Both of my children bled into their brains at birth, a type of stroke unique to premature babies. Premature brains are meant to be cushioned by amniotic fluid, not exposed to gravity and the other harsh environmental realities of life outside of the uterus. For Victor, that meant cerebral palsy. Tight, twisted muscles and balance that made him wobble like he was constantly three sheets to the wind. For Oliver, that meant muscles that are weak and collapse. At the age of eight, holding a pencil correctly requires a look of such intense concentration that it breaks my heart. Every time.

My kids, through the wonders of modern medicine, intense work at home, and amazing public school teachers have defied the odds. They look healthy and happy and act crazy like eight-year-old boys should. However, on paper they're still a combination of these words: dystonic cerebral palsy, hypotonia, congenital hypothyroidism, right ventricular hypertrophy, cerebellar dysfunction, bronchopulmonary dysplasia, asthma, moderately severe pulmonary valve regurgitation, severe gastroesophageal reflux, less than 5th percentile in height and weight.

If the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is struck down by the Supreme Court, any one of those diagnosis will make them uninsurable and I will need to face reality and guide them to careers where they will be part of a large group health plan. They can never work for a small business (they'd drive up the premiums) or, God forbid, for themselves (they could never purchase an individual plan). That American mantra of, "You can be anything you want to be when you grow up" just won't apply to them. I'm not sure what I'll do if they show any proclivity for the arts. I want them to have health care.

A caste system involves social restriction and social stratification with membership determined by birth and remaining fixed for life. By that definition, if the ACA is struck down, we will once again have a medical caste system for premature babies and every child born with any medical condition.

Except the American medical caste system is anthropologically unique. If re-established by the Supreme Court, at anytime anyone can find themselves a member.

 

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+28 # universlman 2012-04-11 08:14
The Affordable Care Act may prevent health insurers from excluding these children from an insurance policy, but it does not require that the policy be affordable. Only universal coverage will do this.

We are a long way from home.
 
 
+10 # reiverpacific 2012-04-11 10:07
Perhaps in the light of the ludicrously entrenched and medievalist US resistance to Universal single-payer health care, it's immediate neighbors (Canada and Mexico) and European "allies" should instigate an "Health Care Refugee" program for people like the good Dr. Gunter, and the ever-increasing numbers, who can't afford coverage under the Fragmented States' profit-driven non-system.
Something on this scale and the international shame of it might (and I mean "might") just bring some shock-attention to this shameful problem -if those who drive the lunacy are actually shockable!
I certainly plan to go back to Europe (which is a pity as I really like the area I live in on the Oregon Coast) before I'm too old, increasingly vulnerable to sickness, and can no longer support a small business.
I hope that I'm wrong but I wouldn't expect anything but a regressive decision from the medievalist majority on the "supreme" blithering-cyni cal-mercenaries court.
 
 
+13 # John Gill 2012-04-11 10:16
A couple of days ago, I read Chris Hedges' article, (which I hope will be coming soon to RSN,) "America's Superficial Health Care Debate." I highly recommend it.

I am a father of three boys, and a stepfather of another two. One of my children was born with a developmental disability, some side issues of which would have been fatal without immediate treatment, and which, had I not had insurance, would have been impossible to pay for. So, I am no stranger to the tugging at the heartstrings a story like this one induces, but as universlman comments above, the affordable care act does NOT guarantee that parents will be able to afford the insurance offered them. "Obamacare," as he is calling it now, is a con game, and just another heapin' helpin' of the pie for Big Insurance, Big Med, and Big Pharma. Painfully precious pics of newborn preemies DO tug at the heartstrings, but they don't alter the facts. We need a single payer option or across the board medicare, and this many-billion dollar givaway to the 1% rackets will not get it done. The lobbyists wrote this bill, for cryin' out loud, and they weren't lobbying for the 99%.
 
 
+5 # dick 2012-04-11 12:45
I imagine Obama tells himself that he established a beachhead, a toe hold, a foot in the door. But his approach may well have done more harm than good. The jury will be out for awhile, but Obama approached the $timulus & healthcare & budgeting as if he were an overly cautious GOPer, not an FDR Democrat. He saved his intense commitment for protecting his bankster buddies, which he has done fearlessly & successfully. Send $$ to Wisc,Mass,Neb,M ontana,RSN, select Senators & Reps. Occupy.
 

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