Anyone who’s been paying attention knows that now is a pivotal moment in our nation’s history, particularly when it comes to health care.
Recently, Congress voted to begin dismantling the Affordable Care Act (ACA)—also known as “Obamacare”—which has left millions of Americans deeply concerned about the future cost of and access to their health care.
This includes many Americans with preexisting health conditions who are watching their ACA protections against denial of health coverage disappear before their eyes. I am one of those people.
A few years ago, my husband and I welcomed our first and only child, Logan, into our lives. During my pregnancy I experienced vision problems which—contrary to my doctor’s prognosis—didn’t clear up after giving birth. This eventually led to seeing a specialist in San Francisco, who ordered an MRI for me.
Alas, the real culprit bore its ugly truth: I had a meningioma brain tumor that had grown during my pregnancy, causing my vision problems. To say that it was daunting having my mortality brought into question as a first-time mom only three months “on the job” is the understatement of the century. It was downright terrifying.
Following a few more visits to specialists, including a neurosurgeon, it was determined we’d try radiation on my brain tumor instead of brain surgery. Any relief I felt at avoiding brain surgery quickly dissipated upon discovering that radiation treatment would involve having a mesh mask put on my face and bolted to a table so I couldn’t move.
There was nothing pleasant about it, save the potential of living to be there for my son and the rock music the radiation technicians blasted to help quell my anxiety.
The summer of daily radiation therapy ceased my tumor’s growth. Following radiation, I underwent eye surgery, which greatly improved my vision. Since then, I’ve received annual MRIs, and so far, my brain tumor has been “behaving.” Although I do still suffer some side effects—slight memory and balance issues and the like—I’ve come out of the experience grateful and still standing.
However, the greatest take-away from my brain tumor drama—which I now consider a gift of sorts—is that it is the people in our lives who matter the most. It’s not the things…not owning a house, or trendy clothes, or a cool car or whatever material possession we think we can’t live without. It’s the people who are utterly irreplaceable.
I knew this before, but now I deeply feel its truth.
And there’s the rub with ACA repeal for me. Americans are not faceless, meaningless numbers that some partisan congressional aide can crunch up into a statistic on their calculator. We are people and PEOPLE MATTER. Our health and welfare matter and it is our right. I can’t read that 20 million people are going to lose health coverage if the ACA is successfully repealed and think—“they’ve crunched the numbers, right on, somehow it’s all going to be ok.”
If they strip Americans of their ACA health coverage and its provisions and protections without a suitable replacement, it’s NOT going to be ok. There are Americans who will not only be losing their health coverage, they will be losing their lives.
That summer of radiation therapy I mentioned? It cost more than $250,000, only a fraction of which came out of my family’s pocket. My annual MRIs aren’t cheap either, but again, I only pay a fraction of the total cost. I have the ACA to thank for that.
I am only one person in a sea of millions of PEOPLE with preexisting conditions who stand to lose their ACA protections if the repeal happens. And no, throwing us preexisting conditioners into a “high risk pool” with sky-high deductibles under a yet-unseen, oft-promised plan is not a viable answer.
Adjust it. Revise it. Alter the existing ACA into a single payer system, but whatever you do, keep health care for all. Our lives depend on it.
Want to join me in taking action? Keep your eyes peeled for “Save the ACA” rallies and the #SaveACA hashtag on social media.
An upcoming “Contra Costa Town Hall” will discuss how we can strive to preserve health care for all. It will be held Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017, from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the First Christian Church of Concord, 3039 Willow Pass Road, in Concord. Speakers will include Congressman Mark DeSaulnier, Congressman George Miller, Ret., and Supervisor Karen Mitchoff.
For more info contact David Sharples at firstname.lastname@example.org or 510-269-4692. See you there?
This is an opinion piece by Kathy Chouteau, a Richmond resident, #RosieRally Guinness World Record holder and writer of this weekly e-newsletter. Contact her at email@example.com.