Some days I walk myself to the statehouse in the dark, sit attentive through long committees, ask unwelcome questions, end up the sole no or yes vote on a bill, look at the long list of evening events we are supposed to attend and wonder what I am doing.
I forget how many kind people have written to tell me how much better it makes them feel that I am here. I forget that on occasion I do make a change that affects lives, I give voice to what isn't heard or those who will be harmed. And that is something.
It is hard though.
Today when we heard a simple bill to mandate that insurance companies cover "elemental formula" as if it were medicine so that kids (whose lives depend on eating this formula instead of food) can afford it and can stay alive.
So that you know, some kids can't eat regular food. At about two months their bodies reject their mother's milk and if they are lucky their doctor figures it out and puts them on special formula and then about 1/3 of them get better quickly, another bunch get better in a year or two and a very few need the formula for life.
But Idaho insurance companies don't cover this stuff. And after today's vote they still won't. The companies promise though to try harder and we believed them. We don't like mandates I guess. This is something new for me to know about the Commerce Committee. It governs health insurance. Or, I know now, doesn't govern health insurance. All the things we COULD do to make health insurance companies do a better job, stop denying claims, be more accountable for making people wade through so much red tape to get something covered they know should be covered... we don't do that. We trust insurance companies instead.
I sat there today and listened to those parents' stories. I can only ask what kind of nation makes people lose everything because someone in their family is sick? What kind of government tells them to get a divorce so they can maybe qualify for Medicaid so their child does not die? What kind of state makes people go through this? Run up tens of thousands on their credit cards, sell everything? What kind of people refuse to do anything because the insurance company lobbyists are really nice people and they promise us things if we will only agree not to make them do what they don't want to.
I'm disgusted because we have no backbone, because I work in one of the few places where we COULD fix some of what is wrong with healthcare and we won't. I'm disgusted because I work in one of the few places in the state where the people I work with mostly don't seem to think there is anything wrong with insurance companies or the way health care works. Or worse, they use how broken the system is to agree to do nothing at all.
On a similar insurance coverage issue, Lot Watts, social worker from St. Als Hospital testifies as to how some cancer patients are unable to pay for a chemotherapy drug because insurers classify it as a pharmaceutical rather than a cancer therapy. Watts and the chemotherapy bill's sponsor Senator Joyce Broadsword are opposed by not fewer than seven seated insurance industry lobbyists.