Getting old comes with some very unwelcome changes to the body and the way one interacts with life. Luckily, it also has some benefits. One of those benefits is Medicare. I am very grateful to those who created Medicare and to those who strengthened it over the years since. I've got good reasons to be thankful.

A recent illness forced me to go to an urgent care clinic one evening. The doctor there took one look at me and told the staff to call an ambulance. I was admitted to the ICU for what turned out to be a five-day stay. That little vacation is going to cost me around $2000. That's only for my share. I haven't seen a final bill yet, but I'll bet it will be a heck of a lot more than I could ever pay off. Three days in ICU with six or seven bags of saline solution and three different IV antibiotics pumped into my veins tends to run up quite a bill. Great care, as you might expect from an intensive care unit, comes at great cost. The total is probably going to be about the same as the cost of a new car.

How would someone without insurance pay for an emergency like this? We may find out sooner than we'd like if the GOP takes the Senate in the next election. If that happens and what little healthcare reform we've managed to achieve gets rolled back, we will have once again exposed the ugly underbelly of our society.

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America is listed as one of the most religious of all developed countries. We are a very worshipful people, all right. We worship the unholy dollar. Money has become the be all and end all of life. It is both the means and the end. It has even perverted Christianity through the preaching based on the prosperity doctrine. I am no fan of religion, but this perversion bothers even me. It is twisted enough to justify even denying people healthcare.

By some means, people have been convinced that denying other people healthcare is the god-fearing thing to do. That letting people suffer and die, letting them go hungry, letting them lose their homes and cars is good for them. 

Somewhere, somehow, we have lost our way as a people. In fact, we are no longer one people, if we ever were. This nation is as polarized as it has ever been. The animosity is almost as great as it was before the Civil War. Then, as now, the split is about how we treat those less fortunate members of society. In the 1800's, those less fortunate ones were enslaved. In the 21st Century, they are those who have been left behind. Many of them are the victims of globalization and contemporary financial scams.

One question I haven't answered is whether people choose their political orientation because of the way they view the less fortunate or whether their views are the result of their political leanings. For me, it's the first option. I side with the Democrats, because I'm a liberal, not the other way around.

I blame my parents, the Boy Scouts, and Sir Walter Scott for my liberalism. All of them taught me that a good man defends the weak and defenseless. A strong man rescues the fair maiden. A decent man helps the little old lady cross the street. He gives up his seat on the lifeboat for a child. He sacrifices for his god, his country, his family, his friends, and even strangers in need. He believes in the better nature of humanity. There is no way such a man could be against universal health care.

As I wrote at the beginning of this screed, I've got good reasons to be thankful. Not least of which, is that I had people in my life who taught me to care about others. Thank you, to all of you who made me a better person. And thank you to those who cared enough about others to create programs like Medicare and Medicaid.

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