Letter to the Editor - September 2009

I appreciate the opportunity to share my health care concerns. I live with chronic illness, disabilities and am a breast cancer survivor. I am especially concerned about the health care needs of the disability community.I passionately support efforts that will create a health care system that covers all Americans, ends pre-existing condition exclusions, eliminates lifetime caps on benefits, curbs costs responsibly and ensures respect for all. My doctor prescribes medications for me, and the meds give me side effects. Several prescriptions cause dry mouth, which promotes tooth decay.

Also, my breast cancer radiation treatments caused more damage to my teeth and gums. Bad news-my back teeth started crumbling. My health care team was searching for a good sedation dentist for a year and a half. Many dentists wouldn’t take my case due to the low compensation rate through my Medical Assistance coverage.

The last MA dentist I saw told me I needed four or five teeth pulled. When I objected, he said they might be able to just pull three teeth. My parents couldn’t take watching my mouth fall apart anymore. They paid for me to see their dentist, and she restored 6 of my teeth.

One tooth could not be saved. My nurses at AXIS Healthcare helped me see a great MA sedation dentist to get the tooth pulled. Unfortunately this dentist only pulls teeth, so I still need to find a good primary dentist.

I have read that Gov. Tim Pawlenty is balancing the Minnesota state budget by cutting services. I understand he is cutting dental services for people on Medical Assistance-along with other cuts to health care for those on MA. I’m grateful that I receive Social Security Disability, Medical Assistance and Medicare help. I’m also very worried about cuts to health care programs for myself, friends and family members.

All Americans deserve to have high quality health care, and I want to stand up and be counted on the issues. A few steps that I have taken recently: I watched President Obama’s online forum on August 20th to inspire health care reform. 280,000 Organizing for America supporters gathered to participate. Remember one thing: Nothing is more powerful than millions of voices calling for change, said the President. To view a recording of the Forum: http://my.barackobama.com/page/content/hcphoneboothhost.

I attended a Telephone Town Hall meeting with U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar on August 23rd. 10,000 Minnesotans joined the call to discuss Health Care Reform. To hear the recording: http://klobuchar.senate.gov/telehall.cfm I recently joined the MNCCD Healthcare Reform Committee, which works on the issue of healthcare reform and how it will affect the disability community in MN. To learn more about this committee, please contact Anni Simons. (Anni Simons, Coalition Coordinator, MN Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities: ASimons@arcmn.org ) Nancy Sopkowiak, Maple Lake Weblog: http://HopeAbility.wordpress.com