Sometimes the healthcare situation in this state (and this country in general) really makes us want to cry. When things are this bad - as they are now - the only way we know to avoid breaking down into hysterics is to write short fictional pieces in which we imagine being visited by an alien species, unfamiliar to our (in)human(e) ways.
Here's how a close encounter of the third kind would sound this week:
Alien Invader: Greetings, Earthlings! We have traveled across the Universe to search out new ways of delivering healthcare to our species. Please teach us how you do this in "California."
Human: We're happy to explain our healthcare system to you, friendly Alien Invader! But how much time do you have? Our system of medical services makes rocketing across the Universe seem simple by comparison.
AI: Ah, I see. Well, our brains are 7 times larger than yours, so go ahead and give it a try.
Human: Okay then, first thing we should say is that every person in California has a right to comprehensive, preventive medical care no matter their income or age.
AI: That's Excellent! Teach us how you do this!
Human: Right, okay, so…. see, you have to understand, the system's not perfect.
AI: No system is. Except for the solar system.
Human: Yah, for example, every year on January 10, we have a ritual that we call the Governor's Proposed State Budget. In this ritual, the government proposes stripping tens of thousands of people of their healthcare benefits.
AI: I see. That does seem like a bit of an imperfection.
Human: Right now, the state government is proposing the elimination of Adult Day Healthcare services, services that keep low-income elderly people out of nursing homes and hospitals and enrich their lives immeasurably.
AI: Hmm. Are these cuts being made because there is simply no other choice?
Human: Well, we could modestly raise the cost of registering a car and extend existing taxes for another couple years.
AI: That doesn't sound so bad.
Human: It does to almost half the Legislature in Sacramento, which refuses to bring the proposal to the public for a vote.
AI: Ah, those legislators must be Romulans. We know them.
Human: Another ritual we have here on Earth is called, "Devastating common-sense healthcare programs for political gain."
AI: That sounds….fun.
Human: For example, right now our federal House of Representatives has voted to cut 1/3 of all federal funding to community clinics. It also voted to roll back a set of improvements to the healthcare system that our President, Barack Obama, passed last year.
AI: We are still waiting to hear how you ensure comprehensive, preventative healthcare to all.
Human: Huh? What? Oh, no no no. You misunderstood.
AI: We did?
Human: Right, so what I meant was that everyone has the RIGHT to comprehensive, preventative healthcare. But not everyone actually GETS comprehensive, preventative healthcare.
AI: This does not compute.
Human: Silly Alien Invader - so technologically sophisticated, so politically naive.
AI: We are going to take off now. We hear there is a land called "Canada" where people have the right to healthcare and actually get it, too.
Human: Yes, we have another ritual that involves packing our elderly onto busses and driving them north across the border to buy affordable prescription drugs from that land.
AI: You have a remarkable system, here, Human. We will note it under our "Do Not Adopt" file. Thank you for your assistance.
Human: Wait, I didn't get to tell you about local healthcare funding!
AI: If you attempt to do so, we will blast you with lasers.
Human: Okay, bye now!
Well, writing that kept us from crying. But now we're just angry! If you're similarly upset with what's going on with healthcare in this state and country, be sure to sign up to take action on our website (click here). Together, we can make a change. And there's a lot to change.