My working life officially began in 1981 and I dutifully paid my share of federal and state taxes and FICA contributions for the next 30 years as well as having deductions to cover my own health insurance. It was never anything I complained about; it always seemed as if it was part of my obligation for living in America. In 2011–after 23 years with my employer–they decided to eliminate my position as a cost-cutting measure. I suddenly found myself with no health insurance for me, nor for my children. Fortunately I learned–when I went to the unemployment office to look for a job–that as resident of one of the more progressive states (New York) a public assistance program was available to provide health insurance for minors at a greatly reduced price. When I was alone again in my car, I broke down and wept with relief that my children were not going to go uninsured for however long my unemployment lasted. It turned out to be fifteen months, during which time I never visited a doctor and just hoped, and prayed that I did not have a health crisis. Once I finally found employment, health insurance, and a doctor again, I discovered that during my time without medical care, I had developed a cancerous tumor on my prostate. If I had not gotten health insurance in time, it would have killed me. Instead, my story had a happy ending: I found a job and insurance for my family. But this experience means that, for me, the Republican dismantling of the Affordable Care Act is a terribly personal issue.
While the Affordable Care Act is not perfect–since we have been unwilling to embrace the efficient single-payer model as has the rest of the developed world–it represents our best effort yet at providing healthcare to those without access. The delusional leader of the new administration–who clearly lacks the brainpower or attention span to grapple with such a complex issue as this–has the gravely mistaken idea that he can replace it with something better and cheaper. When in reality the Republicans have no such plan other than to put millions of lives at risk.
This amounts to a bunch of privileged millionaires, with taxpayer-funded health insurance, sitting around tables in Washington and deciding that health care, in the greatest nation in history, is a privilege, not a right. And that at any moment all of us are vulnerable to losing our jobs, and thus our insurance, and thus our health. The safety net that President Obama worked so hard to build is being sacrificed to partisanship and selfishness. Jesus cautioned us that what we have do for the least of those among us, we are doing for Him. I implore you to contact your members of Congress and demand fair treatment for all. We are better than this.