I pretty much stick to CLL in this blog. I try to avoid politics because it is divisive, and because I think we CLL patients need to put our common cause first and all else second. (If you want to see a great example of this, go to CLL Forum, where conservatives and liberals coexist in good-natured friendship.)
But it is in the spirit of our common cause that I am now venturing into, ahem, politics.
On Tuesday, November 7, American voters will go the polls to choose 435 members of the House, a third of the Senate, and any number of governorships. In Arizona, we are also voting on 19 ballot propositions. In Sedona, we are even electing the board that oversees our fire department. There’s a whole lot of votin' to do!
The purpose of this post is to urge you to vote Democratic. Not because Democrats are perfect and Republicans are evil. Not because of the mess in Iraq and George Bush’s insanity, which is defined as doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Not even because it is time that we had some checks and balances in our government, which our founders intended, as opposed to one-party rule.
I am urging you to vote Democratic because, as the slogan goes, the ass you save may be your own. Ask yourself: Which party is more likely to fund medical research? Which party is more likely to insure access to health insurance?
If you answered “Republican,” BONK!
Did you know that George Bush has proposed a cut of $40 million in funds for the National Cancer Institute in 2007? And that the NCI funds the CLL Research Consortium? The Consortium's 4-year grant from the NCI has expired. My understanding is that this funding has not been renewed. And while the Consortium isn’t going away, it’s not getting much help from the government anymore, nor will it with Bush and the GOP calling the shots.
In April, acting NCI chief Dr. John Niederhuber gave a talk at MIT. “The NCI’s stagnant budget," it was reported, "which was about $4.8 billion in fiscal 2005 and fiscal 2006, doesn't keep up with inflation, so the funding actually amounts to a deficit, Niederhuber admitted.”
In October, from another report on Bush’s $40 million cut:
“That funding cut, argued Martin D. Abeloff, director of the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, will have a devastating effect on the progress of research of new cancer drug therapies.
“In an era when death rates for breast, colon, and lung cancers are declining and new targeted therapies for rare cancers [such as CLL] are on the 'cusp' of development, he said, 'this couldn't be a worse time' for a decrease in NCI funding.
“Many 'world-class scientists,' Abeloff maintained, already spend much of their time on writing grant proposals rather than on essential research activities.
“And their 'reward,' he lamented, is that less than 10% of those grant proposals get funded.”
Now, which party is more likely to restore that $40 million? Which party is more likely to increase funding for cancer research? Yes, the party that has traditionally taken an interest in health care and social programs. Vote Democratic and restore the $40 million; vote Republican and make Bill Gates’ multi-million-dollar tax cut permanent.
Let’s look at another issue: access to health insurance. Some 50 million Americans are without it. What have the Republicans done about this since Bush took office? Nothing. What will they do? Nothing. And if you're having trouble paying skyrocketing premiums? Nothing.
The Democrats are not going to turn our health care system into a government-run nightmare (as opposed to the privately-run one that we have today). Bill Clinton learned the hard way that powerful interests will block any attempt to establish a national single-payer system. But Democrats will make reforms, they will try to address the imbalances, and if they have the votes they will eventually insure that all Americans have access to insurance coverage.
Pre-existing condition such as CLL preventing you from getting care? The GOP doesn’t care. A longstanding Democratic proposal has been to let people in their 50s buy into Medicare. In 2004 John Kerry wanted to let people buy into the same federal program that senators and congresspeople get. If Mark Foley comes down with CLL, he’s covered, even now that he has quit his job. What about you?
I’m not talking about people wanting free health care. I am talking about people who can pay being denied coverage for pre-existing conditions.
This is personal. I am self-employed and my insurer won’t cover stem cell transplants. What do you think my chances are of finding an insurer or a program that will?
Better under the Democrats.
Advocacy page at the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society website.
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