Friday, October 23, 2015

The (Political) Games We Play.

Under construction - seems about right.
If there are two topics that go well together it is politicians and rectums - amiright folks?

But, seriously.

What if I were to tell you bipartisan politicians and the rectums of the elderly are locked in an epic battle on Capitol Hill even as I write this?  While you attempt to scrub that image out of your brain, let me explain.

Once upon a time, there was a little ole' piece of legislation which ensured Americans across the land received access to health care screenings.  Or at least that was the idea.  Once this legislation was decreed (Let's call it Snowshama Pear) cancer screenings such as mammograms and colonoscopies were offered to patients without a co-pay.

You know - because the citizens of the land generally had better outcomes if they were healthy.  And healthy people cost the other citizens less money to take care of in the grand scheme of things.

Anyhoo, thanks to Shoshama Pear and regularly scheduled colonoscopies, many happy colons were eventually liberated of perilous polyps - thus thwarting the evil colorectal cancer.

The End.

Or at least that's how the story was supposed to go.
Don't mind if I do...

Here's the deal.  Regardless of how you feel about - er...Shoshama Pear - insurance companies currently allow patients access to free cancer screenings.  Which frankly - this fair maiden believes is a pretty great idea.

But, as it stands, there is a glitch in the law which discriminates against Medicare patients and needs to be tweaked.

Because of the way the guidelines are written, Medicare patients have access to free screening colonoscopies - like everybody else.  But if a polyp is removed (the whole point of a colonoscopy) it is then billed as a diagnostic procedure - which can come with a steep price tag.

This means if Grandma goes in for a colonoscopy and her doctor finds a polyp - she could wake up with a sore bum - AND a giant (and unexpected) bill.

This disparity in services is particularly concerning because Medicare patients are often on fixed incomes.  They are also the population who are most likely to benefit from the screening in the first place.  As a reminder, colorectal cancer is one of the only types of cancer that can essentially be prevented if polyps are found and removed.

Luckily, once the flaw in the intent of this law was realized, a bill was put into place  - HR1220 - which would end the current discrimination against our elderly population and allow free colonoscopies for Medicare patients.

Because nobody wants Grandma to get colon cancer.

Giving support to this bill seems like no-brainer for any politician.   In fact, when I met with our Idaho politicians in DC last month there was resounding support voiced for this bill.  And yet, the last time I checked, not a single Idaho politician has signed on to support this bill.  Not a single one.

What the poop, Idaho?

I'm going to go out on a limb and say this has something to do with hurt feelings over Shoshama Pear.  And I get it - there are lines to be drawn.  But I don't believe Grandma should suffer because our politicians aren't playing nice in the sand box of our nation's capitol.
Rain Rally with ACS.

There is one way to get your very own personalized form letter our voice heard - and that's to speak up.  Technically these guys work for us - or at least they should be working for us.  But - much like cranky toddlers - if we don't hold our representatives accountable for bad behavior it's only going to continue.

So, lets start a new trend - getting involved.

How to "Be the Change you Wish to See in the World"

1.  Figure out who represents you.  (Here's a link to our Idaho legislators by district but all state legislators are just a google search away).
2.  Send an email or leave a voicemail with this message:
My name is (insert name here) I live in (insert county here).  I am your constituent.  I am contacting  you to request that you cosponsor bill 1220 - Removing Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screening Act. 
3.  Hang up.
4.  Keep sending messages until you can recite the phone tree by heart.  My motto is - if you can't beat them - you might as well annoy them.
5.  Wait for your personalized form letter from your representative in the mail.

Behind Hope.
Being involved in our political system can sometimes be frustrating - but deciding to be informed and speaking up is pretty easy once you get used to it.  Frankly, the decisions these guys are making will affect us whether or not we are part of the decision making process.  Being involved is also the best way to start your very own political autograph collection.  At the very least it helps to pass the time between elections.

And if you want to change the world - Grandma's colon is a good place to start.