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This is important to read. It concerns persons with developmental disabilities.

http://specialolympicsblog.wordpress.com/2012/10/23/an-open-letter-to-ann-coulter/

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Both political parties need to nuance their discussions to better include persons with disabilities. The Republican Party needs to recognize that some people do need governmental support, who through no fault of their own can’t make it by themselves. The Democratic Party needs to recognize that it is not an either/or solution. Personal responsibility should be encouraged. We need to reflect on the principle of subsidiarity, which states that the lowest levels of competence should take precedence but when the needs are too overwhelming higher levels of society need to step in. For example, when going through our experience with Michelle we were usually presented with an either/or proposition. Either you’re on your own or you put her in a nursing home where Medicaid will pay. We brought her home and care for her every day. We did not walk away from our responsibilities but we do need help. Our family carries the bulk of the necessary care but several hours of Medicaid paid nursing assistance is also needed. What I want to hear is a more nuanced political discussion of how to better support persons with disabilities; not how to abandon them or turn them over to the state.

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Let me tell you a story. When my daughter was hit by a car while attending college in Chicago she was taken to Cook County Hospital, a county hospital and the nearest trauma 1 hospital. In the neuro ICU with my daughter was the daughter of the woman who ran the elevator at the hospital. Upon discharge, my daughter went to the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, one of the best in the country. The daughter of the elevator operator went to the county rehab facility. A year later I was back in Chicago and visited the hospital. I recognized the elevator operator and asked her how her daughter was doing. She told me that she had passed. She had choked on her mucus in the county rehab and died.

When we discuss access to health care we need to recognize that if someone is rushed to an acute care hospital they will get the same care whether they have insurance or do not. In fact, in the case of trauma, you want to go to a county hospital because they have the most experience in dealing with trauma. However, once you leave the acute care facility care depends on insurance. Too often we focus on our technological successes but people more often die of bed sores, infections, poor nursing care, improper medication, etc. Here’s where the real discrepancies in health care lie.

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After watching the Republican National Convention last evening, I realized that one of the strong philosophical differences between the Republicans and the Democrats is that the Republicans believe if you try hard and keep government out of your way you can accomplish anything you want. The thinking is – we made it why can’t you? Successful people should be lauded for their hard work and their success. This used to be my thinking as well. After all, I too started from humble roots, was one of the first in my family to go to college, worked hard and succeeded.

So why has my thinking become more nuanced? First of all I grew older and became more aware of my own vulnerabilities but most importantly it was my daughter’s accident. I saw how quickly even a high achieving person can suddenly lose everything. Many people work just as hard as those who are successful and can’t make it and there are others who never had the tools needed for success. There are the many children who get sub-standard education, those living in conditions of poverty, the battered wife, the abused child,the sick, the dying, the disabled. What if Condoleeza Rice had not had the parents she had?

Yes, liberty is one of the principles on which this country is based but so is equality. We should all pull our weight but the presidential candidate who offers me a program that not only praises success but protects the vulnerable is the one who will get my vote.

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