Massaging The Message

I was lying face down on a massage table in the Beachwood Mall Comfort Zone. My lower back was giving me grief and this was the place to go.  The place was packed.  Every table and massage chair was filled.  The shop does a good business, but there is normally one or two employees standing on the lease line asking for people to come in.  Not today.  Could this many people also have old basketball injuries?  Exertion?  Stress?  Who knows?

Face down. My mind started to wander as he started to work his fingers into my shoulders.  It certainly has been a stressful week.  We were transfixed to our televisions as over a dozen bombs were mailed to a past-president and other government officials. Then there were the two elderly Black people executed at a grocery store in Kentucky.  And then there was the horrific assault at the synagogue in Pittsburgh.  I have been in that synagogue.  Since it occurred on a Saturday morning, I was in a synagogue when the attack occurred.  And if all of that wasn’t enough, we are less than two weeks from an election so the commercial breaks inserted between these terrible news stories were negative political ads.

Is he trying to pull my spine apart?

I thought about all of those ads. It seems like every candidate is claiming to be the number one champion of those of us with preexisting conditions.  Every one of them.  If that is the case, how come we’re so concerned?  This is a good time to do the fire department test.  Do you worry about the fire department coming out if your house was burning?  Of course not!  It is a given.   Coverage for preexisting conditions is not a given.  Our health insurance system prior to The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) offered little protection for those with chronic illnesses.  Those guarantees are only five years old, not long enough to forget the way it was.

Is that his elbow in my back?

There are people running for reelection who have voted to repeal Obamacare over 60 times.  That, in of itself, does not mean that they were unconcerned about preexisting conditions had they had a viable replacement.  An actual repeal with an immediate replacement would have opened the door for a discussion on the merits of their proposal.  But there wasn’t a replacement, a real, viable plan, was missing throughout the fight.  From 2011 through 2016 we had grandstanding and campaign fundraising and votes, lots of votes, but no plans.  Repealing Obamacare meant returning to a process that provided little to no security.

Repealing the PPACA wasn’t just the focus of the Republican controlled Congress. The governors and attorney generals from a number of red states attempted to have the courts declare the law unconstitutional.  One case made it to the Supreme Court where Chief Justice Roberts was the deciding vote.  Our current attorney general/ gubernatorial candidate Mike DeWine joined a lawsuit in 2011 to gut the law.  This blog noted the current suit in Texas, supported by the Trump administration, designed to eliminate the coverage for preexisting conditions. Some of the litigants are running in their respective states as if their lawsuit didn’t exist!

Man that hurts! Deep Yoga breaths.

So how can many of our politicians claim to have any interest in protecting our access to care? The only possible answer is the 2017 American Health Care Act (AHCA).  If you don’t feel like reading the entire bill, the link to the summary is here.  Most people remember the AHCA because of the beer celebration at the White House after the bill passed the House and the late night votes by Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Susan Collins (R-ME), and John McCain (R-AZ) that saved the country from this disastrous legislation.  Did the AHCA provide coverage for preexisting conditions?  Sort of.  An amendment was included to “allow states to seek a limited waiver to allow the insurance companies to charge higher premiums for a person with a health condition only if they do not maintain continuous coverage”. How much?  30%!  That and other holes would have doomed the law had there been the normal process with public hearings and amendments that we expect with any legislation, much less a bill that would impact 20% of our economy and our access to health care.  But this bill was still better than nothing.

My half hour was over and it was time to pay and return to the real world. My back felt better but I couldn’t say whether it was due to the massage therapist’s efforts or 30 minutes without TV, Facebook, and the trouble we seem to be in as a country.  One thing for sure, the therapist was certainly better at massaging my back then the politicians are at massaging their message.


Picture – We all need a little Chutzpah – David L. Cunix






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