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Welcome to The Age of Austerity! Stay healthy or die.

As many of you know (especially if you are already on this site), California is looking at nearly 1 billion dollars worth of cuts to Medi-Cal, IHSS and various other important programs.  Many childcare and adult day care programs have lost all of their funding, forcing them to close with no follow-up or placement help for the recipients.  Also, a “pilot program” for turning Medi-Cal over to managed care (meaning a huge HMO) is in effect all over the state, with San Diego as one of the first stops on the march towards total healthcare privatization.  And, no, they didn’t feel any need to allow the taxpayers and recipients of said care to collectively decide this.  Now, I am sure we all know that the money sure isn’t going towards education either, considering that here in just San Diego over 1600 pink slips were given out just recently.  Overall, pretty grim circumstances.

Not that the rest of the country is faring much better.  I was curious and typed “healthcare cuts” into a Google search and the parade of headlines mentioned what seemed like at least half of the Lower 48 states are experiencing serious budget crisis and making immediate cuts to, what else, healthcare and education.   Illinois, Florida, Maine, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Texas, Washington….the list goes on.  There have been hospitals, doctors, nurses and recipients protesting their state’s cuts all over the country.  The social safety net for hundreds of millions of people is being unraveled in an economy that refuses to recover for the majority of us.  Topping that off, our nations leaders are looking at cutting over a third of Medicare funding.  In California, there are nearly 5 million Medicare recipients.  They are looking at massive cuts to their national AND state health coverage.  Meaning?  Well, it means that millions will likely be removed from the rolls (enrollment rosters) of one of these or possibly both.  Patients will be forced into nursing homes (that have a huge lobby and are run for profit) where the quality and length of their lives decreases significantly.  Necessary equipment, meds, nursing and companion care and the ability to even see a doctor will be compromised greatly, if not completely taken away.  Again, pretty grim.

Yet, not all is hopeless.  Why?  Resistance!  Patients, recipients, doctors, nurses, caregivers and families are saying “Hell NO!” to these budgetary machete jobs. I didn’t become a nurse to watch conditions for people become so dire and to see my own employment opportunities, pay and benefits disappear.  Here in San Diego, we have had a loud, persistent voice in the campaign to save Raul Carranza’s medical nursing hours (a struggle you can easily follow on this page).  Do the health care cuts google search, and you will see link after link talking about these cuts mainly in the terms of the fight against them.  I was delighted to see that the cuts to Medicare are not happening quietly either!  The message getting out is not just about the medical consequences but highlighting that this is a civil rights issue.  Taking disabled people out of their homes and away from their employment and lives flies directly against the concept of liberty for all.  The rights of family members, who get paid (very little, I might add) to care for their loved ones will be trampled on as well.  Unions are jumping in this fight too.  Here in California, United Domestic Workers (UDW) is trying to head off the proposed 20% cuts to IHSS.  There are voices rising, more every day, against the chorus of politicians who are scapegoating all of us for their terrible budgetary management and lop-sided taxation.  From the persistent months-long tenacity of the Occupy movement to the recent upheavals against the cuts, people are sounding off and demanding answers.  
We are all frustrated, overworked and living what seems like isolated and solitary lives.  I feel it too.  The pressure is mounting, and around the World we are all seeing the pressure cookers explode with protests, government changes and calls for justice.  Change is really in the air everywhere and the best change possible is where we take our power back and hold these allegedly representative politicians and corporate shills accountable to our demands. None of us is alone and, when we fight together, we really are unstoppable.  I believe this and I see our collective asses are all in trouble if we don’t speak up and speak out…LOUD!  And I hope to hear your voice in the fight, however you can, because I want the roar to be deafening!

El Dubz, Nurse Extraordinaire is a home health nurse with a deep affection for resistance, animals, nursing and equality.

More in this video: College Essay

“No More Cuts! Save Our Services!”

Hello. My name is Raul Carranza. I have a disease called Muscular Dystrophy. It’s a progressive disease that prevents my muscles from making any energy. This, in turn, causes the muscles to atrophy over time, I have lost the ability to walk, move my arms, eat and breathe. Because of this I require around the clock nursing care. But this has not stopped me from striving for an independent life.

Last year I moved away to UCLA by myself and lived away from my family for a whole semester, that’s me in the picture at orientation. Unfortunately I had to come back home to San Diego at the end of December. One of the reasons I had to come back was because I was involved in a battle with the State of California over my nursing hours. The state funds my care through a program called The NF/AH waiver, under this waiver pediatric patients get more money than adult patients.

There are 3 categories in the waiver, they are: A/B, sub acute and acute, acute being the level with the most funding. Medical put me in the sub acute level of care, even though I qualify for the acute level of care. We appealed their decision and went to court with them, we managed to convince the Judge that I was, indeed, qualified for the acute level of care. However, the director of the program overturned the judges decision, and provided no reasoning for his decision.

We have been forced to purchase a private insurance that costs nearly $500 a month, not including out of pocket costs. The private insurance was supposed to cover the cost of the nursing hours that were cut. That’s not how it works, however. MediCAL won’t pay for anything until the private insurance gets billed. This has led to a situation where my medical bills have been piling up. I’m already thousands of dollars in debt and MediCALwon’t cover anything more.

Right now, the only thing I want to do is go back to UCLA. Unfortunately, that is not possible unless I get the care that I need.