That beautiful, sunny, smiling face belongs to Jessica Bucher, a twelve year old middle school student in Northern California.
At a time when most parents are worried about their twelve year old's grades, or first forays with the opposite sex, or cell phone usage, Jessica's parents have a much more urgent goal: keeping Jessica alive and pain-free.
Jessica Bucher was diagnosed with a rare disease that is almost always fatal: juvenile onset Sandhoff Disease. Thankfully, Jessica has responded well to an experimental umbillical cord stem cell treatment, but not without saddling her parents with astronomic health care bills. Those bills are now threatening their home to foreclosure. It's every parent's Faustian nightmare: save your child and lose your home or save your home and watch your child die. Jessica's classmates have opted to run regular fundraisers to help offset these medical costs because we as a country offer no such safety net to the Buchers.
Likewise, Brian Holben of Chester, Virginia, has a similar dilemma and thankfully, a community willing to step in where the government won't:
Improve Your Game, a Richmond-based youth fitness and conditioning organization, will raise money for the Holben family with the first IYG Kid’s Fitness Challenge, which will be held Dec. 12 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Sports Center of Richmond.
Brian Holben, who lives in Chester with his wife, Sheila, and their three sons, Zachary, Tanner and Nash, was diagnosed with a brain tumor during the summer. Two of the family’s sons play on baseball teams sponsored by IYG, which also offers fitness training for kids, said Charlene Frostick, who owns IYG with her husband, Joe.
Brian Holben is responding well to treatment, but his recovery will be a long process and medical bills, which are not all covered by the family’s insurance, will continue to mount, she said.
The stories grow exponentially. PleaseCutTheCrap, from whom I read about Jessica and Brian, also mentions an uninsured Kansas teen who needs a heart transplant. Or the attorney I spoke to last month, afraid to go to the doctors to confirm the diabetes diagnosis he suspects, because he's sure he'll be dropped from his insurance, like one of his colleagues. At this point, he admits he's controlling it with diet and careful monitoring of his glucose levels, but for how long will that work?
This is America. The "shining city upon a hill whose beacon light guides freedom-loving people everywhere", but we can't offer our citizens something that every single other industrialized nation does: health care. And why? Because Holy Joe would rather Jessica and Brian and the others die than give any little bit to the Democratic Party.
And even more obscenely, the White House and the Senate leadership are okay with that, willing to capitulate to the resident tantrum thrower for the sake of passing a bill, no matter how it actually affects Americans.
What can Holy Joe say to the Buchers? How can Harry Reid and Rahm Emanuel face the Holbens? How can they justify mandates to that attorney when the insurance companies get all the benefits and little restrictions?
Joe Lieberman thinks nothing of damning Jessica Bucher and her parents to the hell of that existence of choosing between pain now or pain later. Worse, the Democratic leadership in both the White House and the Senate is letting him get away with it.
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