Tag Archives: single-payer

(Cancer) FaceTime

So much about who we are is defined by how we look. How others see us, how we think others see us, how we see ourselves. I don’t think this is different when you are an actor but maybe it is larger, weighs heavier on the psyche. Selection for roles tied to art direction criteria established in offices of polished chrome and laminate is a harsher reality than most of us will ever subject ourselves to in the pursuit of earning a living.

Jeff's hairIn front of a live audience consisting of members of his ‘tribe’ – people known in real life (IRL) and those of us fortunate enough to have met him through the wonders of the social media – he did ‘it’.

In Los Angeles, Jeff took an electric razor fitted with a number 3 blade to his head before chemotherapy could claim his hair, a friend there to live stream, afterwards they opened a bottle of something. In Stockholm, I cried for the continuing expansion of Jeff’s ‘I got this’ attitude.

In the first moments of the video Jeff shows us ‘why’. He reaches up, with index finger and thumb and (far too) easily plucks a clump of hair from his head… we witness his action and we feel it. We think about the totality of the gesture and what we jeffrey Scott Hendrick hairwatched long after the video ends. Jeff’s narration earns our solidarity and our running commentary included YouTube videos, GIFs and emoticons, humour, awe, love, respect and lots of encouragement. Some called his action brave – he was emphatic that he wasn’t being the least bit brave. Bravery, Jeff said, is many other things but it is not fighting cancer. Bravery is defined as a selfless, heroic action which benefits others, but to be brave, as a verb, “to defy; challenge; dare.” Oh yes, this is Jeff. It wasn’t the actual shaving of his head, or subsequently his beard (due to, as he described it, a newly developed ‘mange patch’ on his cheek), what is so brave it is Jeff’s willingness to publicly document his path to being #CancerFreebyXmas each day. To be honest I don’t know where he finds the stamina. That documentation, his ability to nominally separate himself from his experience and tap into his comfort zone as an actor/spokesperson and generally taking the bull by the horns when the health “care” system in the United States is doing e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g imaginable to hinder him leaves me in awe.

In two chemo treatments Jeff has wrestled the softball size mass known as “Lumpy” to less than a third of that. He has accomplished this through grace, a formidable example of positive-ness, eating well (organic Paleo) and, I think, the cyclical path of the universal kindness he freely offers to the world around him returning to his doorstep in abundance.

The greatest violation our world knows is the systemic stripping away of dignity.  The premiums Jeff willingly parted with each month to Molina Health long before Lumpy took up residence (from my perspective) seemed designed to finance a black op site rather than serve as a critical component to the restoration of his health.  Had Molina been ‘better insurance’ the necessity to shave his head would have eliminated by the use of a Cold Cap, shouldn’t insurance cover expenses related to treatments and the loss of income (enter the Aflac duck voice)? If you’ve ever been 8,000 miles away from someone you have come to care deeply about when some publicly traded behemoth is trying to break them into tiny shards then my words will resonate with you – each of Jeff’s sorties in his battle have become very personal to me, and to all of his tribe.

A couple night’s ago I penned an email to a contact in the public relations department of Lowe’s primarily because she had expressed, on behalf of Lowe’s, their best wishes for Jeff’s health.  As I have written previously Jeff plays “Matt” in a commercial for them. What that commercial has done for Jeff is beyond financial gain, it has removed a torturous contributor of stress generated by indifference, ineptitude and bad policy. As an actor you earn equity in the Screen Actors Guild, SAG, through each appearance you make.  At a certain point that equity generates benefits including the ability to participate in SAG’s Blue Cross and Blue Shield insurance. With Lowe’s “Matt” commercial running in multiple markets Jeff has earned sufficient equity to qualify for and be accepted into SAG’s insurance. He was covered by his new SAG policy in moments. Jeff was then able to put the decaying stench otherwise known as Molina Health and their rendition co-conspirator Global IPA to the curb like yesterday’s trash. As every ‘happy ending’ has an element of karma running through it, Reuters ran a story concurrent to Jeff’s migration noting that the interim CEO of Molina Health was letting 1400 employees go in an effort to improve Molina’s financial picture. I take incredible satisfaction in their downward spiral, and will gladly assist in any possible way to their ultimate demise. Molina Health and Global IPA are prime examples of the rotting abscess of greed destroying American society. Their employees and shareholders alike are culpable for allowing internal protocols to perpetuate an environment of suffering and stress at a time when no one has an extra ounce of energy to spare. Damn them all.

* This is the second in a series of posts about my friend Jeff, his cancer and the rationale for establishing single-payer, universal health care in America.

If you enjoy my blog please consider ‘buying me a cup of tea’ in your currency via PayPal to livelikeadog@gmail.com and then, please do share the blog with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschiTo order my book, please click on the cover art of my book below, thank you! 

This is “Matt”. Matt is Every Single One of Us.

Jeff

This is “Matt”. Matt is the guy down the street whose kid plays Little League with yours.  He is courteous and helpful.  So, of course, he works at getting your ‘shades of blue’ reconciled in the paint department at Lowe’s.  Matt could be your neighbor, or you.  The truth is that Matt is every single one of us.  “Matt” is actually my friend Jeffrey, an actor living in Los Angeles, a very funny comedian, an intellectual pundit (when he chooses to be) and a man with a laugh that fills rooms with joy.  Jeffrey has been diagnosed with cancer, stage 2 lymphoma to be precise, and at present he is being squeezed in the middle like a tube of toothpaste by a grossly negligent ‘system’ and the people employed by it who have zero sense of humanity. I am mad as Hell over all of it.

The name of his insurance company matters, it’s Molina Health.  With ‘our’ shareholder, profit-driven, horribly broken, healthcare system in the United States the truth is that what is happening to Jeffrey could happen to any of us and our loved ones. It also matters that his insurance company hangs up on him. It matters that the administrative staff tell him that his premium will quadruple if he ‘wants’ home care for changing the dressing on the tube sticking out of his arm (sepsis being a real possibility) where he is hooked up to receive his chemo. It matters that I escalate and help seems imminent only to have some drone of an administrative staff person deflect and say it will take two weeks. It matters that appointments are made and cancelled due to software, and human errors and then the humans charged with delivering this news are devoid of humanity. It matters because the stress of dealing with getting healthy on your own (even with a supportive tribe) is enormous. It matters that his first oncologist failed to speak a single word to him in the nine weeks immediately following his diagnosis and never prescribed anti-nausea pills with the host of others which he did prescribe.  Jeffrey’s second oncologist is amazing. Despite the fact that I am a non-relation he has taken my call to problem solve aspects related to Jeffrey’s treatment from Sweden where I am currently.

Which brings me to two components of the health insurance storyline in the United States; employer supported efforts like those which “Matt” as an employee of Lowe’s enjoys (really amazing benefits which should prompt all of you reading this to vote with your wallet and shop at your local Lowe’s ‘just because’) and the idea of a single-payer system such as our Canadian neighbors and those in the Nordics enjoy. On this day, with TrumpCare effectively dead, the reality of a single-payer health care system in the United States has risen like Fawkes in Harry Potter.

Let me remove any ambiguity, I have a couple of issues with the Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare) but neither have to do with the fact that it came to fruition under our 44th President; the first is that it didn’t go far enough and the second being its mandate to be purchased under penalty.  If we have sufficient financial resources to wage seemingly endless war across the planet then Americans of every stripe should have universal healthcare on par with what our federally elected officials enjoy. And if that can’t be done then our elected officials should have that benefit voided.

How do we get to a single-payer health care system to the universal benefit of 330 million Americans and put the United States on par with other first world nations? Well, California, where my friend Jeffrey lives, ever the ‘test the water’ state for public policy adoption has a viable solution called The Healthy California Act. Evidently this legislation has broad support on both sides of the political aisle in La-La Land but one man has blocked it from advancing, and there is a reason for that. Actually there are about 475,000 reasons in the form of contributions from the Political Action Committees of health insurance companies and their executives to Speaker of the Assembly Anthony Redon re-election campaign.  Redon is a perfect example of the systemic violation of the masses by a corrupt politician bought and paid for by the highest bidders for his favor.

SB-562 The Healthy California Act.

The passage of a single-payer system in California, or nationally, wouldn’t put insurers out of business but the resulting shifts in the market would demand agility that insurance companies are not generally known to possess. A model which offers premium coverage in lieu of, or as a supplement to, a single-payer system would still provide considerable revenue – with a healthier demographic contributing to shareholder value.  Policies which would allow customers choices in taking advantage of medical tourism opportunities around the world should also be considered. The increasing perception of health insurers places them at odds with the humankind they are supposed to be serving – essentially sentencing their policy holders to death when costs become inconvenient and expensive. When we make a conscious choice to deny protection and participation by our most vulnerable we can no longer claim to be an advanced or civil society. The costs are too high when we lose our compassion and willingness to step forward and be part of the solution rather than remain part of the problem.

Critically we need to dislodge ourselves from the ‘us vs. them’ mindset that is so pervasive in any conversation about health insurance, healthcare and providing a path forward for all of our citizens. Universal peace of mind around the most fragile aspect of living our lives fully and completely should not even be a question in 2017.

If you enjoy my blog please consider ‘buying me a cup of tea’ in your currency via PayPal to livelikeadog@gmail.com and then, please do share the blog with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschiTo order my book, please click on the cover art of my book below, thank you!