My Mom, The Terrorist (at a Pennsylvania Health Care Town Meeting)

I’ve tried not to pay attention to the vitriol coming from the right wing at these health care ‘town meetings’. Really. I thought, they’re bitter, they’re angry that Obama won, and they won’t make that much of a difference in the end. See, I’m an eternal optimist.

But then they started messin’ with my mom. Literally.

Let me back up. My mother has been working in health care for over 30 years. Way back in 1980, my mom and dad started an independent pharmacy in Pennsylvania. Quickly, it became busy with patients with specific requests, no chain would fulfill, like specially made compounds for chemotherapy patients, hard to find medications for patients in dire need, and the general community. My parents knew everyone’s name, what they needed, and asked about their families. My father drove to the pharmacy on Sundays, to pick up and deliver medications to cancer patients, the terminally ill, and elderly patients having trouble getting around on their own.

This kind of service wasn’t available at Walmart. Or Kinney’s. Or CVS.

My father was the pharmacist. My mother managed the bills, insurance, and worked in the pharmacy. She spent countless hours on the phone, arguing with insurance personnel, many who identified patients as numbers and wanted to deny coverage for medication. Cancer patients, dying patients, the terminally ill, it didn’t matter. To them, it was more about money. To my parents, these were real people, who mattered, and who needed help.

When my father died, my mother and a close family friend who was a pharmacist continued to run the store. Faced with mail order pharmacies and Walmart, this was not an easy task. But they kept the same commitment to patients, taking the time to answer questions, discuss medications and options, and help them understand their insurance coverage.

My mother has written letters to the editor about health care, and she has met with her state Representatives to discuss new health care and prescription legislation.

And when she tried to go to a town hall meeting in her town about Obama’s health care initiative, she was turned away. The people who got in?

A huge bus of people from out of town, funded by a right wing group with slick, pre-printed signs and talking points.

When my mom took pictures of the bus with ‘Hands off My Healthcare’ on the side, and the pile of signs they were handing out, a representative of this group asked her if she wanted to sign a petition.

My mom said, no, I work in healthcare and think we need reform.

And that is when this man called my mom a terrorist. She was dumbfounded. Here is my mom, a hardworking woman who has spent her life helping people in her small, independent pharmacy, insulted on the street.

Now, my mom read that someone brought a gun to one of the New Hamsphire rallies. She was intimidated, and quickly left with her colleague (a pharmacist).

How is this democracy? When two local citizens, both amply experienced in health care, can’t get in to a meeting about health care reform? When they are intimidated from merely being there, and snapping a few pictures at a well funded, right wing operation that is slinging misinformation?

These people are obviously just angry that Obama won the election, and they will shoot themselves in the foot (ie: their own health care), before doing anything that would help him. Even when it will benefit themselves and their families. It is just baffling.

And ‘government run health care’? How many of those folks are on medicare, Medicaid or veteran’s care? That is government run health care! Do they want big corporations running that? Since that has gone so well in the past, particularly with the mega banks? Visit to see what the CEOs of the major health insurance companies make (in one case, 800,000 bucks day).

So I have to pay attention. They went and dragged my mom, of all people, into this. We can’t sit by while they sabotage the dregs of what is left of real reform. Speak out against misinformation. Tell your friends and family. Show up at these meetings, and demand civil discourse. My mom should have been heard. She knows what she is talking about. We need people like her in this conversation.

For some real facts about health care:

*From the New York Times

*From the Whitehouse, with video explanations

*Why health care reform is particularly important for women, from the National Women’s Law Foundation.

And lastly, for some much needed humor about this (although right now I don’t feel like laughing), watch this.

Please tweet this and link to this post on facebook. I think people should know what is happening at these meetings.

image: from my mom by cellphone, at the Pennsylvania town hall meeting where she was called at terrorist

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