The Short Memory of Health Care Compromise

One thing is really burning me up about this whole health care situation. We keep hearing from the right how the ACA is “imploding, falling apart, dying,” etc.. Paul Ryan has gone to great lengths to say the GOP has no choice but to do something as the ACA is crumbling before our very eyes. In some states, insurance companies have pulled out of the ACA altogether, leaving very limited choices. Prices for insurance, we’re told, are skyrocketing as a result of “Obamacare”. The right is running to the rescue, and just in the nick of time. But riding to the rescue of whom?

Remember way back when the ACA was merely a dream? Remember that little nuisance of a thing called a public option, a route to insurance coverage by way of government provided medicare? Remember how the right would never, ever agree to it, and in the interest of compromise, the public option died an agonizingly premature death? Even with so-called triggers that would have to occur before a public option became available, the PO was doomed to expire before we knew her.

Fast forward to current events where as mentioned, we are being told the end is nigh for our health care reformation. We must go back to the days of tens of millions of unemployed, of using the emergency room as a primary caregiver, of some, especially the elderly, not affording health insurance altogether, if we are to save………what exactly I’m not sure anymore. The Republican health care offering seems to be a bill without a clear purpose. Many of its stated goals will not be achieved. It will not insure coverage for all, it will not lower costs. It will not expand coverage in any way, unless you’re falling for the magic word access. Hey GOP, I can access a condo in Hawa’ii but I’ll probably never be able to afford it.

Quite simply, if we had kept the public option in the mix, we wouldn’t be hearing today what a mess things are by those who opposed any sort of health care reform to begin with. Insurance companies pulling out? Cool, we have a public option. Prices skyrocketing? Great here’s the public option. Limited choices? Public option time! Alas, the very people who kept the public option from us are now reading us chapter and verse about how essentially, health care reform will never work and how we have to abandon the idea altogether. Had we not allowed them to kill the public option, we wouldn’t have to be hearing this drivel now.

To the slaves of the insurance lobby on the right and left, I say don’t worry, the insurance companies currently paying their CEOs tens of millions of dollars as they raise their rates exponentially-will always exist, even with universal care in place. They will still be able to sell their policies to those who can afford them and desire whatever care they seek above and beyond what a state offered health care system provides. Just as in the United Kingdom, France, and Canada, insurance companies will survive, simply without the government provided corporate welfare system that force funnels us all to their door and guarantees them customers.

I’ve never fully understood what is so different about America that we cannot do what EVERY. SINGLE. MODERN. COUNTRY. In the world but us has done, but universal care just seems to be trigonometry times calculus for the right. And until we come to the conclusion that is the answer, the only answer to our health care woes, we will continue to be subject to those who want us to believe the sky is falling. Don’t worry about the sky Chicken Little, just worry about getting sick.

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Indians For Sale, The Latest Scandal in Indian Country

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September 23, 2013

I have previously written about the case of Dusten Brown, a Cherokee father fighting to keep custody of his daughter in Oklahoma. The case is still not resolved, and continues much to the horror of those of us in Indian Country. If you are not already initiated, this case has ripped the scab off of a grotesque scar for Indian people, with a history of having our children taken, stolen, sold, and adopted out, all by government fiat. Full disclosure here, this writer is one of those taken. I can speak firsthand of the damage done to children when ripped away from those who would care for us, and raise us as who we were meant to be.

In this case, a Cherokee man serving in the military had a child with a woman he wanted to marry, but she refused. Days before he was to go overseas, he was presented with custody papers. Thinking he was signing custody to the birth mother prior to deployment to a combat zone, he signed only to realize she intended and had already made plans to adopt his daughter out. These plans, by all indications included being paid a handsome sum, according to those in the community in which she lives. Previously in debt, she has now emerged debt free with a nice new vehicle to drive. Concomitantly, the proposed adoptive couple in South Carolina filed for adoption there while the child was still in Oklahoma, another violation of the law. Plus the birth mother has admitted intentionally mis-spelling Dusten’s name and giving a false birth date for him on court documents, to prevent both him and the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma (CNO) from being informed of the adoption, as mandated by the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA).

The case has wound it’s way through courts in South Carolina, Oklahoma, and where jurisdiction should reside, the CNO courts. The adoptive couple have made great fanfare by going to Oklahoma with tabloid tv correspondents in tow, one which got escorted out of Indian Country by Cherokee Marshals after he was caught trolling the schools there. The adoptive couple have also violated the court issued gag orders repeatedly, seemingly calling press conferences every time they have some new emotion. As it stands now, several appeals to the adoption are still in limbo, and a recent stay of the transfer of custody of the girl to South Carolina was just lifted. Of course the Cherokee courts still have their say and the child will remain on Cherokee land pending the adoption appeals, minus any order from a federal court.

Along the way, we have learned that the attorney and so-called Christian adoption agency that advised the South Carolina couple and filed the adoption paperwork, has also handled other illegal adoptions of Indian children in Oklahoma. Clearly this attorney and this agency thought Oklahoma represented a child supermarket where Indian children were for sale. Just drop right in and take your pick. The courts in Oklahoma just ordered the return of another illegally adopted Indian child. This pipeline of Indian children to the highest bidders in South Carolina has been exposed by the Dusten Brown case. Let’s hope it gets shut down altogether with a righteous verdict of him keeping his daughter. Then we can seek a federal investigation into this attorney and this agency’s actions.

As this case continues to unfold, we look to another corner of Indian Country, specifically to South Dakota. There we find the state has been acting in violation of ICWA by taking hundreds of Indian children from their homes and placing them in non-Indian households and state run facilities. Of course the state gets compensated for every child they place, and they seem to have a financial interest in continually violating ICWA until they get stopped. The state of South Dakota has gone so far as to declare poverty as neglect, and neglect grounds for removing Indian children from their families and communities. Long the poorest people in South Dakota and other states, often by design, this declaration seems to have the primary purpose of removing Indian children from their homes. Imagine white or black babies taken wholesale from their homes purely because the state says you’re poor. Welcome to Indian Country.

We thought these battles had ended in the 1970’s. We thought we had ended thehuman trafficking of American Indian children. Apparently these battles never ended and we’re still under the gun. What would you do to keep your children with you? How would you respond if the state came to your door and said that because you’re white, or black or for whatever reason, you’ve lost your parental rights and we’ve decided to send your children to be raised by someone else? It’s every parent’s nightmare. It’s a nightmare hundreds, perhaps thousands of Indian parents and children are living through right now. The Indian Wars are not over.

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Bibliography of me….


Children of The Dragonfly (University of Arizona Press)

Terrorists or Freedom Fighters? (Lantern Books)

Have You Thought of Leonard Peltier Lately? (HYT Press)

Ghost Rider Roads (second edition, Wild Embers press)


Articles and Op/Eds

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