Thursday, August 13, 2009

God, Intelligence, and the Mentally Challenged: "Wisdom Is the Knowledge of God's Will" - Robert Kennedy, Jr.

I happened to catch the following remarks on MSNBC's "Andrea Mitchell Reports," and am writing them down now (TiVo!). Robert Kennedy, Jr., talked about his Aunt Eunice Shriver and how her Catholic faith affected her treatment of her sister. Rose was born mentally challenged. Eunice often took Rose with her on travels here and around the world... Eunice also founded the Special Olympics. Here are some of Robert's comments:

I tuned in mid-sentence... I think Robert was in the midst of talking about Eunice and Rose's parents (Joseph and Rose Kennedy), who decided that Rose would live with them rather than be sent away. He begins here speaking in their voices:

"'She has just as much value as a human being as any other child in this family. Her intellect is absolutely meaningless in terms of the way God sees her, and we're going to keep her in this family.' During that experience, Rosemary flourished. They were never embarrassed, they were never ashamed. They took her in ski races, they took her in sailing races, they took her to meet the queen.

"Eunice at one point, in 1962 my uncle was in the White House, and she looked at this population [the mentally challenged]. There was more bigotry towards them, more prejudice, more disenfranchisement, more alienation than any other population, more vulnerability than any other population. And she decided to be their champion."

Andrea Mitchell comments, "I remember when I was a child, we had a neighbour who was quote 'retarded' and I was his babysitter often. . . but there was so much shame attached to the condition of these children."

Kennedy responds in a deeply Christian (and I would say pro-life) manner:

"She never felt that way about her sister. And I think a lot of that was her Catholic faith, that she believed that every human being has a soul, and every soul is beloved by God.

"Everybody has certain capacities. That first international Special Olympic Games... and I was there in South Bend Indiana in 1987. There was a child who was winning the race, a sprint, and the child fell. The person who was running second went toward the finish line, and just before he crossed the finish line, he stopped, turned around, and went back and picked up the boy who was going to beat him. And they both crossed the finish line together, and they were last and second-to-last. I think that was the spirit of the Special Olympics. And Rune Arteledge of ABC played that over and over again. I think it showed something about sportsmanship that you didn't see in the 'real' Olympics.

I think was something like, Wisdom is not the province of the intellectually gifted. You can have read every book in the Library of Congress and still not have wisdom. Wisdom is the knowledge of God's Will. And it is accessible to these people who are intellectually disabled on the same basis that it is accessible to the rest of us. This child knew right from wrong and he knew what compassion was and he knew what love was. And Eunice was able to see that and say that these children are not disabled in any real sense, it's the rest of us who are disabled for looking at them and looking at this as a disability."

Let's Do Our Homework on Health Care (or) "The Facts, Ma'am. Just the facts."

I'm posting this as a more positive than negative response to some of the crazy anti-health-care-bill stuff out there right now. Released by David Axelrod of President Obama's office, it might calm the waters and (I pray) even convince a few folks to rethink things. I had to reformat it for face book, so any such mess is my fault, not the fault of others.

8 ways reform provides security and stability to those with or without coverage

Ends Discrimination for Pre-Existing Conditions: Insurance companies will be prohibited from refusing you coverage because of your medical history.

Ends Exorbitant Out-of-Pocket Expenses, Deductibles or Co-Pays: Insurance companies will have to abide by yearly caps on how much they can charge for out-of-pocket expenses.

Ends Cost-Sharing for Preventive Care: Insurance companies must fully cover, without charge, regular checkups and tests that help you prevent illness, such as mammograms or eye and foot exams for diabetics.

Ends Dropping of Coverage for Seriously Ill: Insurance companies will be prohibited from dropping or watering down insurance coverage for those who become seriously ill.

Ends Gender Discrimination: Insurance companies will be prohibited from charging you more because of your gender.

Ends Annual or Lifetime Caps on Coverage: Insurance companies will be prevented from placing annual or lifetime caps on the coverage you receive.

Extends Coverage for Young Adults: Children would continue to be eligible for family coverage through the age of 26.

Guarantees Insurance Renewal: Insurance companies will be required to renew any policy as long as the policyholder pays their premium in full. Insurance companies won't be allowed to refuse renewal because someone became sick.

Learn more and get details:

8 COMMON MYTHS about health insurance reform

Reform will stop "rationing" - not increase it: It’s a myth that reform will mean a "government takeover" of health care or lead to "rationing." To the contrary, reform will forbid many forms of rationing that are currently being used by insurance companies.

We can’t afford reform: It's the status quo we can't afford. It’s a myth that reform will bust the budget. To the contrary, the President has identified ways to pay for the vast majority of the up-front costs by cutting waste, fraud, and abuse within existing government health programs; ending big subsidies to insurance companies; and increasing efficiency with such steps as coordinating care and streamlining paperwork. In the long term, reform can help bring down costs that will otherwise lead to a fiscal crisis.

Reform would encourage "euthanasia": It does not. It’s a malicious myth that reform would encourage or even require euthanasia for seniors. For seniors who want to consult with their family and physicians about end-of life decisions, reform will help to cover these voluntary, private consultations for those who want help with these personal and difficult family decisions.

Vets' health care is safe and sound: It’s a myth that health insurance reform will affect veterans' access to the care they get now. To the contrary, the President's budget significantly expands coverage under the VA, extending care to 500,000 more veterans who were previously excluded. The

VA Healthcare system will continue to be available for all eligible veterans.
Reform will benefit small business - not burden it: It’s a myth that health insurance reform will hurt small businesses. To the contrary, reform will ease the burdens on small businesses, provide tax credits to help them pay for employee coverage and help level the playing field with big firms who pay much less to cover their employees on average.

Your Medicare is safe, and stronger with reform: It’s myth that Health Insurance Reform would be financed by cutting Medicare benefits. To the contrary, reform will improve the long-term financial health of Medicare, ensure better coordination, eliminate waste and unnecessary subsidies to insurance companies, and help to close the Medicare "doughnut" hole to make prescription drugs more affordable for seniors.

You can keep your own insurance: It’s myth that reform will force you out of your current insurance plan or force you to change doctors. To the contrary, reform will expand your choices, not eliminate them.

No, government will not do anything with your bank account: It is an absurd myth that government will be in charge of your bank accounts. Health insurance reform will simplify administration, making it easier and more convenient for you to pay bills in a method that you choose. Just like paying a phone bill or a utility bill, you can pay by traditional check, or by a direct electronic payment. And forms will be standardized so they will be easier to understand. The choice is up to you – and the same rules of privacy will apply as they do for all other electronic payments that people make.

Learn more and get details:

8 Reasons We Need Health Insurance Reform Now

Coverage Denied to Millions: A recent national survey estimated that 12.6 million non-elderly adults – 36 percent of those who tried to purchase health insurance directly from an insurance company in the individual insurance market – were in fact discriminated against because of a pre-existing condition in the previous three years or dropped from coverage when they became seriously ill. Learn more:

Less Care for More Costs: With each passing year, Americans are paying more for health care coverage. Employer-sponsored health insurance premiums have nearly doubled since 2000, a rate three times faster than wages. In 2008, the average premium for a family plan purchased through an employer was $12,680, nearly the annual earnings of a full-time minimum wage job. Americans pay more than ever for health insurance, but get less coverage. Learn more:

Roadblocks to Care for Women: Women’s reproductive health requires more regular contact with health care providers, including yearly pap smears, mammograms, and obstetric care. Women are also more likely to report fair or poor health than men (9.5% versus 9.0%). While rates of chronic conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure are similar to men, women are twice as likely to suffer from headaches and are more likely to experience joint, back or neck pain. These chronic conditions often require regular and frequent treatment and follow-up care. Learn more:

Hard Times in the Heartland: Throughout rural America, there are nearly 50 million people who face challenges in accessing health care. The past several decades have consistently shown higher rates of poverty, mortality, uninsurance, and limited access to a primary health care provider in rural areas. With the recent economic downturn, there is potential for an increase in many of the health disparities and access concerns that are already elevated in rural communities. Learn more:

Small Businesses Struggle to Provide Health Coverage: Nearly one-third of the uninsured – 13 million people – are employees of firms with less than 100 workers. From 2000 to 2007, the proportion of non-elderly Americans covered by employer-based health insurance fell from 66% to 61%. Much of this decline stems from small business. The percentage of small businesses offering coverage dropped from 68% to 59%, while large firms held stable at 99%. About a third of such workers in firms with fewer than 50 employees obtain insurance through a spouse. Learn more:

The Tragedies are Personal: Half of all personal bankruptcies are at least partly the result of medical expenses. The typical elderly couple may have to save nearly $300,000 to pay for health costs not covered by Medicare alone. Learn more:

Diminishing Access to Care: From 2000 to 2007, the proportion of non-elderly Americans covered by employer-based health insurance fell from 66% to 61%. An estimated 87 million people - one in every three Americans under the age of 65 - were uninsured at some point in 2007 and 2008. More than 80% of the uninsured are in working families. Learn more:

The Trends are Troubling: Without reform, health care costs will continue to skyrocket unabated, putting unbearable strain on families, businesses, and state and federal government budgets. Perhaps the most visible sign of the need for health care reform is the 46 million Americans currently without health insurance - projections suggest that this number will rise to about 72 million in 2040 in the absence of reform. Learn more:

[PLEASE... if you find these facts important to you and your neighbors, please repost this as a note on your face book / myspace page, or email it to friends not on face book. --Jon Trott]