Yoga & Activism – Uniting the Blessing of Universal Health Care for All

Posted by on Jan 5, 2019 in Blog | 0 comments

For nearly two decades (’92-2008) I worked to change policies regarding the marketing and use of tobacco products. I learned a lot. Despite the tobacco industry pouring millions into trying to defeat Public Health works in this area, the tobacco industry lost. I have been looking for an issue and the right time for me, to begin using my advocacy and community mobilizing skills toward another public health issue. I have found that issue. A big yay in my world. Universal Health Care is the issue.

Why did I get involved with tobacco prevention and why Universal health care now? When I was in college in the mid eighties for undergrad and the early 90s for grad, I loved to go out to the nightclubs and bars and dance. I always hated that I had to be exposed to secondhand smoke. Nothing like working up a sweat surrounded by toxic carcinogens – eeewww! I would mention this to every bartender, manager and owner that came across my path. It, the issue of secondhand smoke exposure, effected me deeply, personally, and it affected others as well. After grad school with a masters in Public Health/Community Health Education, I was put in a position to help pass the first state-wide Smoke-free Bar and Restaurant law in the world, California 1997. I could speak passionately, honestly, and directly about the issue and my earnest good will was felt by even the most angry of bar owners who didn’t want the law for fear they would lose their business. They thought people wouldn’t come to bars anymore, lol!!

Similarly, the issue of Universal Health Care effects me deeply and personally. The “out of reach” cost of premiums and fragmented system that exists, erks me. My monthly premium as a healthy individual went up over the last several years from $450 per month, to then $650 and now at $750. That’s a large percent of my income for one preventative visit! So this issue effects me and I’ve seen it effect loved ones in the quality of care. One in four people who have cancer go bankrupt! I’ve also seen it affect the workplace of many health care practitioners. Why do insurance companies have their nose in the practice of medicine?!! To make money. Not to provide health care. Health is not their bottom line, money and profit are. Absurd. Bad choice to have insurance companies involved with health care. But we learn. Sigh.

As a self-employed professional, I am in the position to be self insured. The cost of health insurance comes out of my pocket. Some years, depending on my tax situation and income levels, I have financially qualified for Obama Care or a stipend from the Affordable Care Act. Although I feel Obama Care was at least a step in the right direction, there were several missteps. It’s been a real mess for me. I don’t like not having health insurance coverage because, God forbid, I would actually need it. So coverage gives me peace of mind, and financial security, not to mention the possibility of care without stress, if ever, again God forbid, I would need it.

More to the point of government’s attempt at providing health care – The Affordable Care Act, as a healthy person, pays me about $650 per month for me to basically have my annual preventative exams. What? $8,400 annually for a 1/2 a pap (every other year!), a breast exam, and a blood test? I pay $70 on top of that amount per month. I have received Obama Care stipends for two different years in my life. Once, I had to pay back the thousands of dollars as I made more money then the last year and ended up not qualifying. What a bite that was. I would have rather paid the penalty fee, and gone for my health check ups using different community avenues. And today, I would rather pay a known set of taxes for health care and cut out the guess work. Outside of Obamacare, I could pay $350 per month for basic, God forbid, catastrophic care insurance. Again, I’d rather pay that money in taxes for an assured, insured one payer system.

In fact, millions of Coloradans are not insured. In Colorado 350,000 people are not insured and many more are underinsured. And as a country, our health outcomes are in the category of undeveloped nations. The United States is 41st in life expectancy and infant mortality is on the rise here, and decreasing in less developed countries. Isn’t that crazy? Many people think we have the best health care! We do have some of the best acute care technology and practices in the world, but when it comes to actually curing (ALL) people and keeping us (ALL) healthy, our health care system is extremely broken. It’s not affordable (companies pay an enormous amount of funds to this; people go bankrupt and can’t afford the out of pocket expenses thereby avoiding the doctor all together, etc. etc; people can’t afford to even have a baby!), it’s inaccessible to many, and the quality by health care practitioners and patients alike is dis-satisfactory. Change must happen.

In yoga, the basis is to “yoke” or unite with God. This yoking or putting together different things can be expressed or thought of as “caring” or “grace”. It’s already the case, we don’t have to really do anything for our burden to be “light”. Yet, we do have free will – How or how much does one take care of themselves in their daily lives? How or how much does one use, cultivate and apply their time, gifts, and interests to help others and the world? And how much does one praise God, the large creative, infinitely wonderful creator of who we are. There is a creative balance here. Care for self & Care for Others. That balance is God acting in our life, uniting our life with all, giving it. In traditional yoga terms, this is called samadhi, or absorption in the Divine. The creative balance is our best interests, our life, and ultimately our wellness.  In activism, the yoga practice is to stand embodied, express our authentic voice from our of creative connection of self and other, and trust in life’s prolific creative power to achieve miracles of care and in this case our shared goal of Universal Health Care for All. Caring for self and caring for others are not separate, they are in union – designed and given by God.  

I could testify to the Lords presence and power all day long. The Lords spaciousness, the Lord’s closeness, the Lord’s peace. But for now, what I want to testify to is the power of God, through us, to change our health care system – how health care is paid for, quality of health care, practice, oversight, access, training, and affordability. I have a new volunteer position to use my gifts and interests to help others and myself on this issue. I am the newly appointment Boulder County Community Mobilizer for the Colorado Universal Health Care Foundation. We aim to move toward a one payer system for Universal Health Care. All while doing this, we aim to have fun, apply our interests and gifts, put to use your interests and gifts if you so feel called, and work together toward achieving this end. The goal is insight and righteous! Praise God!

The science exists that points to the fact that when we get the insurance companies and insurance adjusters completely out of the health care system, then we save the vast majority (30-70% depending on the study) of health care costs. By simply adjusting how the care is paid for, the funds and care are freed up to function more appropriately. This shifts costs so that the system would actually SAVE money. Regardless of money, I have a firm belief that health care practitioners need to practice health care, not jostling financial reimbursements while making critical decisions to save a persons life. Let people do what they are trained to do within the intent of the profession. (not the insurance industry profit motives) Further, create a universal system where professionals increase their ability to make a good living – in good medical practices and in income – rather then being bogged down with unrelated monetary choices.

We must stop the predatory strategies of large corporations within healthcare. The tobacco industry used to give free cigarettes out to children at fairs, and pay for roads and stop lights in developing countries as long as they’d put the Marlboro Man in the stop light! just to make a profit. and here are the health care insurance companies saying “Oh, let me help you run the tedious administration of health care so I can make profit and then tell you how to practice medicine!!!

In 2016, the opportunity to have a Colorado health care system was put on the ballot and the voters rejected it thinking there were too many costs involved. People thought taxes would go way up. I thought this as well in fact in my attempt to research and come to a sound voting choice a couple hours before I actually voted. But the text on the ballot was written poorly and I’ve done the research and things have progressed. The science exists that very little costs adjustments would be seen by the client, and that ALL Coloradans can have health care if we get insurance companies and insurance adjusters out of it. Doesn’t this make just good common sense? I do. It also makes practical sense with better medical outcomes as is proven by all the countries that have done this!

Today, January 2019, the call to action is to:

  1. Call your representatives and senators to ask them to support HP-19-1176 Healthcare Cost savings Act of 2019. The bill will designate a study to examine four different ways of providing health care. You can look up the bill for details if you are so inclined.
  2. Visit representatives and senators when in Denver and tell them your story and ask for their support.
  3. Attend a Rally on February 13, 2019 in Denver and march around the Capitol starting at 11am on the West Capitol Steps. Arrive by 10:40. (this happened already and it was a fantastically successful and moving experience! Sorry to have missed you there!!)
  4. Post on social media support for the issue and call to action.

I feel exhilarated to work on this important issue and that’s a fantastic sign from God, my Lord. I get to enjoy working on this. It’s creative, new, functional, spiritual and practical. In this New Year of 2019, I leap just like Elizabeth’s baby did when Mary came to visit her. I feel the moving of the Holy Spirit renewing my energy to do this work and flooding me with the contacts and people to work together to “get ‘er done”! In this way, I feel deeply self assured or “self insured” by the Almighty to do and accomplish and complete this activism for the benefit of all and to the Glory of God. Just like we worked together toward passing smoke-free indoor air laws. Nay saysers said it couldnt’ be done. And that no one would go to bars anymore!! and that bars would go out of business!! All the while we public health activists kept our eye on the prize and worked towards it together. Not controlling the way, but only the outcome which serves the benefit of all.

Please join me in caring for yourself and caring for others. Let’s work towards, and pass successfully, Universal Health Care for All with no deductibles, no income limits, low if any co pays, and implement it wisely, with caring capable professionals. To do so with an emphasis on prevention and cure, not the money grabbing insurance industry with an emphasis on profit and bottom line, is truly a blessing and prayer in action! ACTIVISM. Send me an email if you’d like to get involved – however small or large. Thanks for reading this!!

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