The sick, like me, should speak up
The Kansas City Star
Those with the mendacity to decry the Affordable Health Care Act are taking a position that will be a point of shame in posterity. This is not a partisan issue. It’s a civil rights issue.
For a moment, let’s set aside the fact that the health insurance mandate was originally thought up by Republicans .
Let’s temporarily ignore that a cornerstone of Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign is the repeal of an act based on the universal health care model that he championed as governor of Massachusetts.
What remains of the dialogue following the Supreme Court’s monumental decision? The left is failing to explain what this means for individuals and businesses and the country as a whole, and the right is whining because they have to either adjust their myopic priorities .
The implementation of major public programs has historically been met with resistance, as have advancements in liberty. Usually because of fear and greed.
Ben Franklin famously observed that nothing is certain but death and taxes. Face it: We’re all dying or will be someday and we must all contribute to the collective if we expect to benefit from it.
I am childless and not by choice. I suppose I could be angry that the ability to procreate is rewarded with tax credits, exemptions, and other breaks but I’m happy to contribute. The future of America’s children is my future.
The passage of the Affordable Care Act protects that future by ensuring that all peoplehave access to the care they need.
I live with multiple overlapping chronic autoimmune and central sensitization conditions, complicated by other recurrent treatment-resistant problems. I’ve made substantial changes and gains in managing my own care, and I’ve made huge sacrifices, but my health has continued to degenerate.
As long as this legislation stands, I do not have to face rejection for health insurance when my COBRA coverage runs out. If it is repealed, my options will be to accept public assistance (something I’ve resisted despite being irrefutably qualified for disability insurance), deplete my parents’ security, or move to one of the nearly 50 countries with universal health coverage.
Many people can’t wrap their minds around the fact that lots of conditions do not have cures and that diagnostic criteria and treatment guidelines change regularly as more is learned about the body and that which thwarts it. Few understand the feeling of futility and isolation when one is on a quest for an answer or remedy that doesn’t yet exist.
If a person is diagnosed with cancer, gets in a horrible accident or has a heart attack, loved ones, medical professionals, even coworkers and acquaintances, rally to support them.
People who develop an aggregate of debilitating symptoms over time do not receive this level of care and attention. In fact, they often face years of invalidation, blame, misdiagnosis and poverty until they have a major medical crisis or die. This is not a standard of care that should be tolerated, let alone perpetuated.
Now, with the elimination of lifetime caps on care and expanded coverage of preventive and integrative medicine, the millions of Americans living with chronic health problems can look ahead to treatment and symptom management options that are currently unavailable or unaffordable.
The country has taken a historic step forward but the Republican Party is promising two steps back if Romney wins in November. For this reason, it is imperative that those of us who are sick and struggling speak up, despite the daunting vulnerability, despite the stigma, and ask for support on Election Day.
Perhaps we can make something meaningful of our misfortune by raising a collective cry that all people deserve hope, health compassion and equality.
Brooke Tourtellot of Kansas City works as a freelance writer and consultant. Reach her by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or write to Midwest Voices, c/o Editorial Page, The Kansas City Star, 1729 Grand Blvd., Kansas City, Mo. 64108.