Staying alive with Republicans fighting against me

Letter

The smartest and wisest person I’ve ever known was my Dad, and the added benefit was that he was also my personal physician. I always paid attention when he shared his advice because I’m now in the process of dying.

My favorite medical advice from my Dad was: “You take care of yourself, follow the advice of your doctor, eat right, avoid bad habits, and get lots of exercise, but something is still going to kill you.” So, it’s wise to pay attention to issues that affect your health.

I’ve had reasonably good health (I turned 70 this year), but I’m facing serious challenges to staying alive. I have two chronic and incurable diseases, Type II diabetes and chronic lymphocytic leukemia, either of which will likely kill me at some future point. However, I’m doing what I can through excellent medical support and the latest pharmaceutical prescription drugs to fight like hell to survive as long as I can.

It’s interesting how many factors affect one’s health, and they’re not always medical in nature. For example, I’ve been able to manage my diabetes by injecting insulin several times each day for over 20 years to allow me to control the glucose problems in my system. Even so, insulin is only manufactured by a handful of big pharmaceutical companies, and it isn’t cheap. Even with medical insurance and Medicare benefits, my
diabetes treatment costs have averaged over $1,000 a month.

Similarly, the diagnosis of leukemia is a new challenge that emerged in the last year, especially that one of the two prescription drugs I take each day cost me $700 a MONTH for the 120 pills — a total of four each day. Hey, but that’s only $5.83 a PILL. Did I mention that the CEO of this company makes $24 million a YEAR? Do you think he worries whether I live or die?

So, between my treatment for diabetes and leukemia — and even with Medicare support to cover some of my prescription drug costs — I’m paying at least $1,700 a month to stay alive. Reminds me of another favorite observation my Dad liked to say: “Dying is easy; it’s staying alive that’s the challenge — if you can afford it.”

But, heck, sometimes hope comes from interesting places. In our democracy, we rely a lot on the U.S. Congress to look out for our well-being. The U.S. Constitution refers to protecting our health and welfare of our citizens, and some national initiatives created and passed by Congress have resulted in great benefits to the American people, programs like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Affordable Care Act, and the recently passed Inflation Reduction Act approved this past August.

This historic legislation will help millions of Medicare enrollees (like me) better afford our life-sustaining prescription drugs and other first-time benefits, including:

• Allowing the federal government to negotiate some high-cost prescription drugs with pharmaceutical companies through Medicare (potentially good for me);

• Putting an annual $2,000 limit on how much Medicare Part D prescription drug plan members (Seniors like me) will have to pay out-of-pocket for their medications;

• Capping the cost of insulin at $35 a month (for diabetics like me);

• Leveeing tax penalties on drug companies that increase their prices by more than the rate of inflation (to protect all of us consumers);

• Extending by three years the enhancements under the American Rescue Plan that will help bring down the costs of health insurance plans in the Affordable Care Act marketplace (especially important to folk in ages 50 to 64 who don’t qualify for Medicare at this time).

As a retiree who spent part of my career working for the U.S. Library of Congress, I admit to following the politics, antics, and actions of Congress. I’m also an active AARP member. We all recognize that Democrats and Republicans in both Houses of Congress (House and the Senate) don’t always get along, but sometimes they do things — literally dangerous games — that are potentially and directly harmful to citizens like you and me.

For example, a popular Republican strategy in recent years has been to not support any initiatives or legislation originated by the Democrats, regardless of the potential benefits to all U.S. citizens. This was recently demonstrated during deliberations over the Inflation Reduction Act, which will better protect citizens’ health (and mine), as well as save hundreds of billions of dollars over the next 10 years through the reduced costs of medical and hospital care, prescriptions, and rebates under Medicare.

So, instead of following their oaths of office to protect all Americans, the Republicans in Congress ALL voted against the Inflation Reduction Act — strictly for political reasons. But, thanks to the Democrats’ majority in both the House and Senate voting for the legislation, the Inflation Reduction Act was passed without a single Republican abiding by their oaths to protect the health and wallets of American citizens who have life-threatening diseases, like ME. I know from my Capitol Hill experience that the Democrats and Republicans regularly play hardball, but had the Republicans defeated this historical health-based legislation, they would have had a direct impact on whether this citizen lives or not.

Fortunately, both Virginia senators supported the Act, but unfortunately my congressman, Rep. Ben Cline, choose to be a good Republican instead of being a good elected representative who’s supposed to help protect all U.S. citizens. I guess he and his Republican colleagues didn’t care whether I live or not. Not my idea of what I expect from my elected representatives in Congress.

I wonder how he would have voted if a member of his family had an incurable disease? If I’m still alive, I’ll be voting this year and in 2024 for a Congress that seeks to protect all citizens.

Don Feliciano ~ Luray, Va.

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11 Comments

  1. Mr Feliciano. Nice letter, but you left out the part that allocates $80 billion dollars to the IRS to beef up enforcement. Combine that with all the new agents needing to make a big splash at the office to enhance their bad ass reputations, who knows how it could go?

    • Honestly, I think putting women in prison for having an abortion, and criminalizing birth control will do wonders for inflation and lowering prescription drug prices. Therefore I’ll be voting for every GQP candidate this fall…

  2. Yeah Garry. I was going to vote DEMONcratic, but since you put it that way, I’m GOP all the way now.
    Shocking. For as little as $1/mo more under the now expanded taxpayer funded abortion coverage under O___aCare, less money will be available to help Mr Feliciano with his medical issues.

  3. So let me get this straight, You were in an accident (which I am sorry about)that made you a millionaire and were able to commit up to 75k to your dog park (https://www.gofundme.com/f/baileys-legacy-dog-park?qid=ec68a2dfb155f2f8c1e1e6c25a38a9c2) but you come on a local website complaining about healthcare costs and add a senseless diatribe bashing Republicans.
    Lets get the government out of our wallets because it hits the middle class the hardest.
    I’m amazed but not surprised that you cherry picked the items you like but left out the pork which will do nothing to stop inflation. Yes, Virginia there really is a Santa Claus and the “build back broke” policies are great!

  4. I’m the guy who wrote the above letter to the editor. I write these letters because I like to stimulate debate among folk in my community who sometimes don’t pay a lot of attention to politics and other important issues developed by the U.S. Congress. In this case, I’m concerned that the Republicans on Capitol Hill don’t seem to care whether sick folk like me live or die or can afford treatment for incurable diseases. It’s not much of a return for the $174,000 salaries we pay these elected officials to supposedly improve our lives.

    That’s a lot of money for the Republicans simply to collectively vote “No” to all proposals by the Democrats to improve, for example, the Nation’s deteriorating roads and bridges or to reduce the costs for medical care and prescription drugs. Why would they vote against such positive efforts? I thought we elected these folk to be our leaders. In my specific case, the Republicans don’t seem to care whether I live or not, or whether I can afford to pay for my medical treatment and prescription drugs.

    The intent of my letter to the editor apparently didn’t convince some readers about why it’s important to protect the health of citizens like me. Representatives like our own Rep. Ben Cline voting as a bloc to simply say “No” isn’t legislating—it’s irresponsible and downright lazy. I’m a great supporter of the First Amendment’s right to free speech, but I’m at a loss to understand why a couple of local blowhards in the community just had to comment their views on issues that had nothing to do with my letter—like the IRS and abortion. All I’m doing is trying to stay alive.

  5. Why are you complaining about having to pay more for your health issues over and above what Medicare covers? You got money for that in your lawsuit. Is the civil justice system not good enough for you?
    Even if a dog park had existed at the time of your accident, you would still probably have stepped in something there too?

  6. I congradulate Don Feliciano for speaking out about what he has to pay to stay alive, whether he has gotten a large settlement or not. It must be difficult for him to have the added worry of spending all that money for medicines and the people who could help don’t seem to give a darn. I dislike very much to add to all the disagreements that goes on in Washington between the Democrats and Republicans but they act like little six year olds fighting. If they can’t have it their way, they don’t want it, regardless of the many people who are suffering, like Mr. Feliciano. Don’t you think it’s about time when they get together and do what’s good for the people? When they pass from this earth and get to the golden gates, they will be judged on whether they did it right. Through all this bickering that’s going on, it seems as though it is contagious. People seem to be like those six year olds here in Page County. Grow up!!! We need to act like the adults we are and be proud that we can help one another instead of hurting and hating someone who doesn’t think like we do. And by the way, Thank You to the man who paid for my groceries last Friday. That’s the kind of people we are pleased that some are still around.

  7. Check out what Ben Cline voted against before heading to the polls! Wouldn’t we want someone representing our needs?

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