Sunday, July 7, 2013

Senator Mark Kirk

This morning I watched this story about Mark Kirk. He's a Senator from Illinois, a moderate Republican who had a stroke a year ago and has just returned to work after a year of intense therapy to recover his ability to walk and talk.

He's against Obamacare and extending Unemployment Insurance.

Here's what they forgot to ask on CBS Sunday Morning:

How would you have survived the past year if you had lost your job and your health insurance as a result of your stroke? 

I looked up what would happen to me, just as a point of comparison. For the sake of argument, I assumed that I had a full-time job at the same pay grade as my current, part-time job. It's a job that requires a Bachelor's Degree and some experience.

Had I suffered a stroke a year ago, I would have received six months of pay at my regular salary and six months at 66 2/3 of my salary. For the first six months I would have paid the same amount for insurance that I was paying when I was working, and my insurance payments would go up after that. So just when my pay was cut by 1/3, my insurance payments would go up. My employer's benefit website does not specify the amount of the insurance payment.

Those are actually pretty good benefits. Assuming that Hopper could keep up the insurance payments, I would continue to have insurance for an entire year. I don't think the insurance packages at my workplace are as good as the Federal insurance that Senators get, but they're not bad, so I'd be able to get regular therapy, though maybe not the specialized intensive therapy that Senator Kirk was able to access.

But that's me. Most people wouldn't get paid beyond whatever sick days they had, and they'd likely lose their insurance when they stopped working, as well, or have to pay for COBRA. And that's just college-educated folks. If you have a job waiting tables or loading trucks, you can pretty much forget having anything. Oh, and if you couldn't get back to a state where you could balance a tray of dishes or lift heavy boxes, you could forget getting your job back even if you could recover in the 12 weeks allotted by the Family and Medical Leave Act. If you couldn't return to work after 12 weeks, you could lose your job.

Nobody should be denied necessary health care. Nobody should be without food. Everyone should have a safe place to sleep at night, and everyone should have access to a basic education. These are not "issues," they're basic human rights.

If you can't see that, Senator, maybe you need to think about what this past year would have been like if you didn't have health care and employment insurance paid for by the government.

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