I made a very public moment of Letting Life with Lupus Out of the Bag. As a pretty private person, I tend to keep my Lupus diagnosis to myself. Until one day I didn’t. This started when I was scared and didn’t know WHAT to tell people about Lupus. It continued because I thought, if I let people know, there is a chance an employer would find out and what if they decided not to hire me because I have a chronic illness–illegal, but I am fairly certain I lost a job for that reason. It happens. So that is why, when the Affordable Healthcare Act (also known as Obamacare) was signed into law, I was so grateful, so relieved that I couldn’t contain it. I wrote a letter to the President and shortly thereafter, a New Republic Magazine published a story about that letter and my experience.
This allowed me to thrive. I quit my job and started my own business. I was healthy–and I paid more than $400 a month to have adequate (but not great) coverage. I happily forked over another $120 or more per month for prescriptions. Why happily? I could have been paying a small mortgage or a really nice car, right? I was happy to even have the opportunity to purchase health insurance with my pre-existing condition. I was happy to know that if my health really took a turn for the worst, I couldn’t be sent off to suffer because of coverage limits. That was three years ago.
Today by passing a measure to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, the senate has taken my peace of mind away and thrown millions of Americans into the panic of finding coverage or being eligible for it. Among other things, with their 216 yes votes repealing the ACA, our Senators subjected us to the following :
- Subsidies for citizens with lower incomes are taken away.
- Protection from being denied coverage because of pre-existing conditions–and pre-existing conditions include things such as pregnancy and domestic violence, not just cancer and MS, and Lupus.
- Coverage limits are reinstated; so if for example, a child faces cancer, their amount of care can’t be limited by their insurer. So parents can cross their fingers that science and medicine can heal their baby before the bill gets too high.
This all just seems antiquated. A line from a Tupac Shakur song keeps popping into my head as I type–
“You know, it’s funny, when it rains it pours
They got money for wars but can’t feed the poor
Say there ain’t no hope for the youth
And the truth is it ain’t no hope for the future”
What kind of people are we that we draw the line on top of the vulnerable? Kicking the sick when they are down? Is that really who we are? And for what?
I was talking with a colleague recently who had Googled me before we worked on a project together. She found the New Republic article. As I braced myself, waiting for this successful scientist to oppose my view, she said,
“Before the Affordable Care Act, people were slaves to their employers. They had to take whatever abuse their employers dished out, because they needed the health insurance. If the ACA is repealed, we go right back to that.”
She is right. Today we are right back there.
It must be easy to make decisions like this one when there is no chance that the aftermath of the decision will ever affect you or you family. I say we repeal and replace the current health coverage for our representatives and make them bite their nails and and develop an ulcer with so many of the rest of us. Here is hoping our representatives prove my every fear wrong; that they replace this plan with a baseline nationalized health plan like a civilized nation. That the word “replace” isn’t just something they tossed in to soften the blow of stripping the Affordable Care Act from us.
Until then, stay healthy my friends.