Thursday, December 17, 2009

Open Letter to Senator Ron Wyden

December 17, 2009 --

Senator Wyden,

I voted for you and I'm very proud of your record and tireless work to reform healthcare insurance for all Americans. You are the real deal.

I urge you not to accept or support the Senate's healthcare bill in its current form.

Without offering an alternative to "for profit" health insurance the bill will fail Oregonians and all Americans. Available statistics show that "For Profit" health insurance is strangling the life out of our country. The reforms proposed in the Senate's bill will help, but without a "not for profit" healthcare alternative they will fall short. At every turn the "for profit" healthcare insurance industry chooses profit over people. Isn’t this antithetical to our American values? The Constitution of the United States begins “We the People…” not “We the Shareholders.”

Senator Wyden, I know firsthand what it is like to be held hostage by the healthcare insurance industry. As a 42 year old dialysis patient and kidney transplant candidate, I live with the financial burdens and pressures of managing a chronic illness through all the perils of our healthcare system. Daily life requires an extraordinary force of will. In fact, I am one of the only 23% of those with kidney failure who works full time in order to maintain my health insurance and get a second chance at life. However, through all my difficulties, I am not the person in need here.

The uninsured, uninsurable and the under-insured need your continued help.

Most of us have moved beyond hoping for a single-payer, non-profit system. However, expanding Medicare to cover more Americans is a brilliant idea. As a person with kidney failure, I am fortunate because I am allowed to enroll in Medicare. Because I work, Medicare is my secondary insurance and serves as a critical fallback that saves my family from desperation and poverty. Though the Medicare system is not perfect, it is superior to any proposed alternatives.

It just makes sense good to build on the Medicare infrastructure that is in place and works today. I urge you not to compromise on this key reform.

I also do what I can to help by advocating for healthcare reform with my blog. You can see this letter to you posted there ( Of course my blog has a special focus on kidney disease, dialysis, and organ transplants. I sincerely hope that you are a registered donor and that I can continue to laud your achievements on my blog and support your reelection.

I greatly appreciate your service to Oregon and the United States of America.

Jon E. Seaman

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Jon Must Have Been High

December 9, 2009 --

The first year after I graduated college was brutal. The George Bush Sr. recession of the early 90s withered the economy. It wasn't a happy time for young people. If you don't remember what it was like, just think of the angry grunge music that replaced pop music and glam rock. Jobs for graduates were scarce. I felt like everything I'd been promised my whole life (work hard + college degree = good job) was a farce. Between acting gigs and contemplating grad school, I accumulated substantial debt and looked for a real job. To scrape by, I worked as a bouncer, a substitute teacher, a sheet rocker and and jewelery salesman. None of these jobs offered health insurance. I remember I thought I could get by for bit without it. I suffered from the same delusion of invincibility as today's 20 somethings. This is despite an early diagnosis of kidney disease I received in college (when I had insurance). I felt like I was on top of it with inexpensive high-blood pressure meds.

Then I blew out my knee playing basketball. It swelled as large as a truck tire and I couldn't walk. I had no money or insurance, so I delayed treatment and hoped it would just go away. No luck. After a week I dragged myself to the emergency room. For a $1000 bucks, money I didn't have and that added to my debt, they X-rayed me, drained the knee, and injected it with cortisone. I had a medial collateral ligament tear and needed surgery. The doctor recommended I see a specialist and a surgeon. When I explained I didn't have health insurance, he shrugged and gave me some steroids to keep the inflammation down and said, "good luck."

I did not get the surgery. Once I did get health insurance several years later I ended up going to rehab three separate times because my knee didn't heal correctly. Go figure. A few years ago I got an MRI that showed as a result for not getting proper treatment, I have degenerative arthritis in my knee. To this day I have a slight limp and chronic pain.

Moral of my story?
  • Jon is stupid and was probably high
  • Being poor and in debt sucks
  • Working temp, part-time work, or for small biz usually means no insurance
  • 20 somethings don't understand the need for health insurance
  • Ignoring an injury or medical condition leads to life-long problems and lower quality of life

Often we think of the uninsured as chronically ill people who are refused coverage. This is only part of the story. If you want all the facts please visit, It's a detailed site that uses non-partisan studies from the Robert Wood-Johnson foundation to give you the straight dope. It's worth a scan. Know the facts. One thing that drives me crazy is the assumption that people who don't have health insurance are lazy welfare seekers. Not true, see below.

As the senate does it's back-room deals, don't let them forget about young people. If they extend Medicare and compromise on other alternatives to for-profit health care insurance, they must not do it with their normal superficial ass covering. We need real solutions to help all uninsured people.