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Today progressive commentators are bewailing a House bill that would allow the Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) enough flexibility in administering the sequester spending cuts  to avoid disrupting air travel. Furloughed federal air traffic controllers should be able to return to the job soon. Progressive angst over this exception to the sequester takes two directions. One evaluates the gamemanship skills on display and finds that Democrats "lost," while the other asks about fairness. WaPo's Ezra Klein efficiently integrates these concerns:

In effect, what Democrats said Friday was that in any case where the political pain caused by sequestration becomes unbearable, they will agree to cancel that particular piece of the bill while leaving the rest of the law untouched. The result is that sequestration is no longer particularly politically threatening, but it’s even more unbalanced: Cuts to programs used by the politically powerful will be addressed, but cuts to programs that affects the politically powerless will persist. It’s worth saying this clearly: The pain of sequestration will be concentrated on those who lack political power.
I'm here to add my voice, small as it is, to those concerned with the latter issue. Once again, thanks to the ideological blindness, ignorance, and cruelty of the GOP, along with the short-sightedness and timidity of our Democratic politicians, the folks on the bottom got screwed. I do, however, have a special, personal sequester ax to grind.

I was diagnosed with late stage ovarian cancer last fall. It's a hard disease to diagnose - it took to months of tests and an eventual surgery to find out what was causing my vague and diverse symptoms. Treatment consists of further surgery and repeated  cycles of chemotherapy. When or if I achieve remission - late state ovarian cancer is not considered curable - it will likely last anywhere from 3 months to three years;  the number of women diagnosed in late stages who are cancer free five years after treatment is very small. When the cancer recurs, it is very likely to be resistant to one or more chemotherapy drugs. I have met one woman who has been through five remissions in sixteen years, all requiring ongoing, expensive treatment. Others are not lucky enough to make it that long.

What does this have to do with the sequester? Think Progress writes about the effect of the cuts on Medicare cancer patients:

Budget cuts have forced doctors and cancer clinics to deny chemotherapy treatments to thousands of cancer patients thanks to a 2 percent cut to Medicare. One clinic in New York has refused to see more than 5,000 of its Medicare patients, and many cancer patients have had to travel to other states to receive their treatments, an option that obviously isn’t available to lower-income people. Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC) proposed restoring the funding, but the legislation so far hasn’t moved in Congress.
Although I am old enough to be eligible for Medicare, I am instead covered by the insurance offered by my husband's employer so this cut does not affect me personally. However, during the past months I have wondered how many people in my position die because they can't afford either the chain of tests that I endured before my disease was diagnosed or the complicated treatment regimen. I don't think that this is a condition that can be effectively treated in the emergency room. This funding cut will surely kill women just like me.

I am directly affected, however, by the cuts to health research funding. Think Progress tells us that:

... The National Institutes of Health lost $1.6 billion thanks to sequestration, jeopardizing important health research into AIDS, cancer, and other diseases. That won’t just impact research and the people who do it, though. It will also hurt the economy, costing the U.S. $860 billion in lost economic growth and at least 500,000 jobs. Budget cuts will also hamper research at colleges and universities.
Ovarian cancer has not received the type of attention that has been accorded to cancers that affect larger numbers of people. (I have read that only about 20,000 women a year are diagnosed with the disease  as opposed to the ca. 250,000 new cases of breast cancer each year.) There hasn't been as much money to fund research into a cure or new treatment methods and the numbers of deaths from ovarian cancer have remained steady over the past several decades.  Recently, though, some potential, new treatment directions (see, for instance, here) have been identified. Curtailing such research could have a very serious impact on how effective my future treatment options are and, consequently, on how long I will ultimately survive.

My question is very simple. Aren't cancer patients just as important as the tourists and business travellers who may be inconvenienced by longer lines if air traffic controllers are furloughed? I know that this question is one that could be asked by so many others who are or will be affected by the sequester cuts: the unemployed, children in head start, those threatened b OSHA cutbacks, etc., but for many of us suffering from cancer is perhaps, more immediately a question of life or death, at least for those facing the Medicare cuts that deny them treatment.

I am writing to the President, to my milquetoast Democratic Senator, my (worthless) Republican Representative to let them know how angry I am about the way our politicians have contrived to make a stupid set of cuts worse by applying them unfairly. Klein suggests that Democrats should try to make the best of this bad situation:

At this point, it probably makes sense for the White House to push for and accept an expanded version of the Inhofe-Toomey bill giving them some discretion over how the cuts are distributed. So far, they’ve resisted bills giving them the ability to choose, within sequestration’s broad parameters, how to allocate the cuts. But that refusal was based on the theory that making sequestration less painful would make it more permanent. If sequestration is permanent, however, they might as well make it a bit less painful.
But is this realistic? As long as the sequester is in effect, cuts will have to come from somewhere; you can only rob Peter to pay Paul for so long, and I'm not optimistic that our so-called leaders have the wherewithal to stand up for the real interests of the people they represent.

Originally posted to Thisbe on Fri Apr 26, 2013 at 05:40 PM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  My sympathy to you on (11+ / 0-)

    This huge life change. Wish I had something valuable to say; wish with all my heart that you get well soon.

    Also I express my admiration that even though you are covered under your husband's policy, you're finding the energy to fret over the others who are not as lucky. In a perfect world, we would have Universal Single Payer - all the rest of this nonsense is just nonsense. I would give up on the notion of Single Payer Universal, but it's almost exactly what Our Congress critters all have - no worries once elected to Congress about whether they will or won't get treatment, and then they can relax, as the government will foot the bill. If it is good enough for them, it should be good enough for us. They are our servants, rather than us being theirs.

    You bring up good points. I hope some elected official somewhere understands and hears you. I think I will cut and paste your comments and email them off to Sen Boxer.

    Offer your heart some Joy every day of your life, and spread it along to others.

    by Truedelphi on Fri Apr 26, 2013 at 06:27:42 PM PDT

    •  Thank you for your good wishes. I'm glad that (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      4Freedom

      Barbara Boxer is in the Senate and you're lucky to be in a state that she represents there - she used to be my congresswoman for awhile when we were living in California and I admire her a great deal.

  •  Thisbe, My heartfelt empathy for what you are (7+ / 0-)

    experiencing.  You are so very courageous in setting a shining example of what it means to be the change.  

    From my heart to yours, I thank you.

    You have every reason to be furious about the ripple effect of the sequester & with those responsible.

    And you have highlighted many aspects of that ripple effect that many may not be aware of.

    I have been living with the old "waiting for the other shoe to drop" thing since before the sequester.  Now even more so.  

    I happen to have a child with severe intellectual disabilities, multiple life threatening medical issues, severely hearing & speech impaired & with sensory processing disorders which closely resemble many of those who are on the autism spectrum.

    As the result of being born this way, no one would provide medical insurance (or life insurance) due to that idiotic phrase "pre-existing condition".  

    Evidently, pre-ex  follows one all the way back to in- utero & the division of cells...

    We do not qualify for medicaid, however we did for the federally mandated  Katie Beckett Deeming Waiver Which does not consider parental income & which kuckily our state opted into.  

    My child has had & continues to have multiple hospitalizations/medical interventions, multiple specialists & this year the meds alone are currently around 1k ( a thousand dollars) a month.

    Medications required to ensure my child's life & health.

    In our state  one can be served by medicaid if they meet the income thresholds & any of the following:
     

     You are pregnant
        You have been diagnosed with breast or cervical cancer    
        You are a child or teenager age 18 or under
        You are over the age of 65
        You are blind
        You have disabilities
        You need nursing home care.

    Other situations that may make one eligible:

        If you are leaving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and need health coverage.

        If you are a family with children under 19 and have very low or no income and few resources.

        If your income is higher than the limits and you have medical bills you owe (and you are pregnant, under 18 or over 65, blind, or disabled.)

        If a child is in foster care or adopted

    The above is representative of many many diverse groups that will also be impacted immediately & long term.  Because of my past life & advocacy work, I've been in the unique position of knowing what was being cut & worse how much it hurt families in my state.  Several years ago I became involved on a more national level regarding outreach, advocacy & support within the disability community.

     Just last night, I discovered the other shoe has dropped.  In another state where services have been continually cut so badly that there are not any.  

    Whether it is a school or community support-cut to the bone.  Doesn't matter that little Johnny has autism or severe disabilities or that little Sally no longer receives services or therapies or her teacher an aide.  That some schools are freaking contracting/outsourcing for the aides needed for special education.

    The ripple effect.  When the implications & scope is considered-it is heartbreaking and beyond fathom.

    On behalf of my child & the countless other groups, I thank you for this diary & for taking action.  I'll be joining you.

    Take gentle tender care of self.

     

    •  Oh look. I invented a new word: kuckily . Sigh, (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      FloridaSNMOM, Vetwife

      it should read "luckily".

      Argh.

    •  Thanks you for your sympathy and for your comments (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Vetwife, 4Freedom

      Truly many people will suffer because of this sequester and it infuriates me that the only aspects that seem to enrage our GOPers are curtailing White House Tours and making flights a little more inconvenient than they already are (although when it's a matter of regulating the commercial airlines to insure greater ease and reliability for travellers they are quiet as church mice).

      Medicaid is getting hit from a number of directions. In my state, not only are the GOP Neanderthals who run the legislature not expanding Medicaid to take advantage of the obamacare funding, they are proposing to cut out funding for children and some adults as part of a "reform" plan.

      I'm afraid that things will have to get really bad before the fools in reddish states like mine (Missouri) wake up to what is being done to them.  

      •  I am so sorry for this situation for you (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        4Freedom

        and your family.  It is abolutely maddening.  Missouri will be one of the first to tear down every single safeguard.   Missouri is extremely red.   We have a nutty governor but he is as good as gone.. Missouri is probably like Ga and holds on to insanity.

        We the People have to make a difference and the Change.....Just do it ! Be part of helping us build a veteran community online. United Veterans of America

        by Vetwife on Sat Apr 27, 2013 at 03:58:19 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  ..and it appears the insatiable military thing wil (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FloridaSNMOM, worldlotus, 4Freedom

    l get every freakin' buck it wants, now and in perpetuity, including everything except, you know, full funding for "troop" benefits, VA care and compensation, all that, since "thank you for your service" and now go eat your Superlative CPI Sausage. While more and more of what "the military" does is done by "cost plus whatever they can get away with stealing which is a whole shitload of money from a monster that can't even be audited because they have no idea where all the taxpayer dollars and borrowed Chinabucks are or have gotten off too" contractors.

    What is the matter with us that we don't rise up en masse and shout these Congresscritters and the dud(e)s in the White House down, DEMAND that they DO RIGHT and do it NOW?

    We pay something like $100 million just to keep the "DoD Dictionary of Military Terms and Abbreviations" current with the latest "doctrines" and politically updated euphemisms.

    And most of us are ok with all that silent grinding theft of wealth and the accompanying quick march down the path of Dead End Imperialism:

    Some U.S. lawmakers have been pushing for more troops to return to Stateside bases, but Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin E. Dempsey said Thursday he doesn’t think there will be further dramatic changes in the U.S. military’s forward presence, even in light of recent budget cuts.

    “We have pared that back as far as we reasonably can and still have the influence that we do. I don’t think you will see dramatic changes in our forward situation,” Dempsey told servicemembers gathered at a Yokota hangar on Thursday.

    http://www.stripes.com/...

    My mother died of ovarian cancer in 1972, she lasted a strong, face-up-to-it, New-England-lady year and a half after diagnosis with radiation and chemo as then available. The Great Game f___ers who live fat off of the wealth that could be so much better used to make life better, healthier, less painful and more hopeful for the people who actually create the wealth they so gluttonously consume and waste, they need to be reined in, choked off, stopped from sucking the life out of us behind a set of bullshit lies about "security" and "freedom."

    I wish Hospice help had been available when my family was dealing with my mother's illness and dying. As a nurse, I have seen how helpful they can often be even earlier in the process, even if one reaches remission and even cure. May you and your family and circle find love and meaning and healing and peace in your personal pilgrim's progress with that disease.

    "Is that all there is?" Peggy Lee.

    by jm214 on Sat Apr 27, 2013 at 07:37:22 AM PDT

  •  Some do survive... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    worldlotus, 4Freedom

    Hi Thisbe,

    2 comments.  

    First, for what it's worth, some people do survive ovarian cancer.  In 1999 my wife was late stage-3, with ascites and such.  The oncologist said she wouldn't live 5 years, and to expect more like 2 years.  

    Some varieties of OC respond very well to chemo, as hers did.  She is very much alive.  

    Statistics have their place, but you are not an average, you are unique.  

    Ignore any data that include the period before Taxol was invented, it changed the game dramatically.  For that matter, some very promising new drugs are in development. . . .

    Second, my father died 8 days ago of throat cancer (I am NOT making this up).  He was 88 and smoked, so his loss was not a big surprise... but here's what bothers me:

    He was denied radiation treatment that would have shrunk the tumor and made his last days more comfortable, instead of slowly strangling.  I don't have words to describe how I feel about the insurance situation.  

    Best of luck to you.  

    •  I do realize that people survive, but it is still (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      4Freedom

      good to learn about one more who has done so - so thank you for telling me about your wife.

      Unfortunately, taxol  (in combination with carbo-platin) has already exhausted its effectiveness for me and I am now being given doxolrubicin. I am tolerating the chemo very well, though, with few side effects, and I'm hopeful that I will reach remission and maybe stay there for awhile - I'll take whatever I can get. Although I have made an effort to inform myself about the odds and what is going on, I concentrate on the present without worrying about the future which seems to work for me.

      My sympathies on the death of your father. It is indeed terrible that he was denied common palliative treatment.  

  •  Well (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    worldlotus, 4Freedom
    If a child is in foster care or adopted
    Not really in all cases.   Medicaid is avaiable if they meet the special needs of adoption assistance regarding the 1997 Act signed into law by President Clinton.  A child has to be a minorty status, in foster care, on Tanf, or be a sibling group of 3 or more for placement at one time.  Our youngest did not qualify BUT......we have been screwed by the sequester as Champ VA is NOT covering certain meds at all.  I came home from my Daddy's funeral to find out one of my meds have been dropped and now what I paid 12 dollars for ..I am paying 106..and no warning.

    It sucks and it sucks big time.

    We the People have to make a difference and the Change.....Just do it ! Be part of helping us build a veteran community online. United Veterans of America

    by Vetwife on Sat Apr 27, 2013 at 10:38:57 AM PDT

    •  vetwife, I just copied & pasted the block quote (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Vetwife, 4Freedom

      directly from our state's website.  Just  to try to highlight a point that the ripple effect is far reaching & probably a lot of beings do not realize how many various groups are affected.  Did not post qualifiers for medicaid eligibility as they can vary from one situation to another.

      Yes, it sucks big time.  I am so sorry (& angry) that this is happening to you & to so many.  

      Whether it is your $106 or my child's outrageous "close to $1k" medication amounts a month, my family just cannot afford the out of pocket amounts whether we are given notice or not.  Let alone any of the multiple specialist fees.

      The past 16 years have been a real eye opener for me personally.  Before I became mama to this child of mine through marriage & love, I really had no concept of how difficult it can become for those with or without insurance to obtain healthcare if & when needed.

      Or just how much a life can be ruined if minor or catastrophic health issues strike.  My spouse was hit with the triple impacts of a dying wife, a newborn medically fragile special needs newborn & the economy shifting.  

      Losing employment & health insurance yet still unable to qualify for assistance based on past income severely impacts.  And created a ripple effect that has taken us 16 years to try to overcome.  

      Our story is just one of countless other stories in this country that belie the myths surrounding insurance, safety nets & the awareness level of those who stand in the way of the greater good.

      These human stories & diaries such as this one & the comments need to be roared over & over & over until awareness levels are raised.  

      We managed to somewhat survive thus far; others have not.  I won't ever forget what I did not know before this journey & have been actively trying to use lessons learned in a proactive way towards the greater good.

      The more I learn the angrier & more disgusted I become.
       And in whatever way I can, I add my roar to the others.

  •  I am so sorry as well about the (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    4Freedom, worldlotus

    question about business travelers and cancer patients.
    For the first time in my life...I am afraid of their answers.
    Good diary.

    We the People have to make a difference and the Change.....Just do it ! Be part of helping us build a veteran community online. United Veterans of America

    by Vetwife on Sat Apr 27, 2013 at 03:01:20 PM PDT

  •  We'll see & FIGHT! (0+ / 0-)

    I'm 62
    I think what a lot of younger people don't quite understand is that Obama understands the perpetrators of evil and the mass brainwashing they employ to twist the dialogue.
    One of those eery things. One of the first things Reagone did in 1981 was fire thousands of striking air controllers. The start of Union busting. The TWIST being who started what & I'd rather have healthy Union air traffic controllers.
    It's the psychology of the thing. A plane crashes because of lack of controllers. The blame goes to Obama.
    I think Obama's doing a good job, flying under the radar & spottin' "perfect repuke storms" I'm sure it isn't easy.
    Has he made some mistakes because some of the people under him haven't been forthwith. Yes. The only major one I can think of is the Mass. DA., whatever her name is should be at a desk lickin' stamps. Bad energy. He needs to tune his radar on some & question whether they are putting out good energy or bad. I don't blame him. It isn't easy. Obama knows who we are fighting.
    P.S. The new bush/chainy I'monnia latrine looks like one of those buildings hitler built. Perfectly nauseating. It wouldn't surprise me, a dimensions copy. That's their mindwash!
    The funny thing is it's the only Prez. liebury with a hole bunch of nicknames :)
    And to add to the WHOLE tinfoil hat:
    I still think the current wars were started to divert attention from cloning. Can you imagine trying to tell the difference between cloned bush"s? One would say one word of a sentence. One another. It wouldn't be a long sentence.
    I hope I'm OK doing some humor in such a sad time.

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