It is never just about me. I tell myself those words when I force myself to sit up just long enough to punch out what I hope will be a meaningful diary. Today I wake up hoping a judgment has not been cast.
This is what feels like the largest political hostage situation in the history of this country. I am a cancer fighter. Many of you know that. I also have a bad heart, degenerative disk disease, and an ascending aortic aneurysm. All of these are pre-existing conditions. All of these are expensive and all of these I rely on my trusty Obamacare to allow me to get treated. See because of a thing we call a mandate, the “Silver Plan” I use allows all of us to be priced the same, and not based on risk.
In fact it is the only way such a plan could be viable. But once again, thanks to Texas extremists, I am dealing with the very real potential that my entire health care viability will be destroyed.
If they were to do that, I will have two choices: leave the country or die. That’s it. That is it and that is all. It would be like a forced surrender with my weapons gone, it would be a death sentence.
I am just the one person. The world will carry on fine without me-but I am not wanting to leave it. I should have a fundamental human right to fight my cancer.
Here is the key section:
4. They could rule that the entire ACA is unconstitutional and strike the entire law (or nearly all of it) down.
THIS IS THE NIGHTMARE SCENARIO
Gone would be pre-existing protections, Medicaid expansion, women’s health initiatives, you name it, poof, gone, over, finished, back to where we started in 2007. Back to people ignoring symptoms back to people rationalizing that lump, back to people saying to themselves, “Nah, the mole isn’t that dark. My heart rate is ok considering the exercising. My headaches aren’t that bad. My belly is not that swollen, and in my case, the night sweats are just an allergy.”
But what chills me are the number of Americans who had to make a choice. They had to decide if human life was the ultimate concern in a nation of free people in that they had to decide if human beings had a right to healthcare, fundamentally, irrespective of financial position. About 37 percent believe it is NOT a right in the sense that the government should guarantee it. From 2018:
Among those who see a government responsibility to provide health coverage for all, more say it should be provided through a single health insurance system run by the government rather than through a mix of private companies and government programs (31% vs. 25%).
Even among the 37% who say the federal government is not responsible for ensuring Americans have health care coverage, there is little appetite for government withdrawing entirely from involvement in health care. Most within this group (31% of the public overall) say that health care coverage is not the government’s responsibility, but that programs like Medicare and Medicaid should be continued; just 4% of Americans say the government should not be involved in providing health insurance at all.
Now we know that the percentage of true red extremists is shrinking, and I am heartened at that, but it still comes down to nine people. We have over 330 million people in this country, but it comes down to nine people. And of the 130 million Americans at mortal risk, 54 million are really faced with navigating a storm in a Swiss cheese boat:
KFF has estimated that in 2018 about 54 million non-elderly adults in the U.S. (27%) had “declinable” pre-existing conditions that would have made them “uninsurable” in the pre-ACA individual health insurance market. Declinable conditions were identified through an analysis of health insurer underwriting manuals.
Nine people, get to decide basically, if 130 million Americans can pursue a life of health without bankruptcy.
We talk all the time about procedure, and protocols, and decorum. People who stride across the Senate floors have the luxury of such airy pronouncements; they have full coverage under government healthcare. But Obamacare is not a debate anymore. It is a lifeline. It is the kind of policy that allowed a 43 year-old small businessman to get his cancer surgically treated, to get therapy, to receive medicine as needed.
It allowed me to have a chance to live longer, to contribute more, to appreciate the opportunity to make the most of my second act.
Imagine beyond that, however. Imagine beyond the one person, me, the diarist able to launch a newsletter or make a difference in the public discourse. Imagine 130 million Americans suffering in pain. They won’t go to a doctor for tests they can’t pay for to treat a disease that is treatable to give themselves a higher quality of life.
Imagine a world where healthcare, where properly maintaining oneself is simply not an option. Where a father has to choose between getting that cough looked at or feeding his kids. Imagine you are that father. Imagine all the articles you read about your cough, and catching it early, if only you could afford to.
Imagine my Grandpa, a WWII Naval hero, who for years before he was eligible for Medicare had a persistent dysphagia, and finally an inability to hold down food when it was far too late to save him from the ravages of cancer. Imagine a twelve year-old little boy holding his hands as they turned cold from impending death, losing the one father figure in this world he had.
Imagine the rage. The sadness. The emptiness. The loneliness. Now multiply that by 130 million. Millions of sweet children once again, thanks to the worship of the Profit God, being forced to feel what I felt, to experience the scarring, the rage, the helplessness. Millions of good people suffering in indescribable agony, in a somnambulate state of being, unable to cope, reaching for one too many pills, or a weapon long locked away, because nine people could possibly decide to resurrect a scenario that, were the torment caused by war, would violate the principles of the Geneva Convention.
A sheriff’s department in Washington state shared a story about an elderly man who killed his ailing wife and then himself, apparently because they did not have enough money to pay for medical care. The devastating story was shared on the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page and has gone viral.
A 77-year-old man called 911 and told the dispatcher, “I’m going to kill myself,” according to the sheriff’s department. He indicated he had prepared a note with instructions and the dispatcher tried to keep him on the line, with no success. The man disconnected the call, and when deputies arrived at the house, they sent a robot mounted camera inside.
Both the man and his wife were found dead by gunshot wounds. Detectives are investigating it as a likely murder-suicide.
No it is not just about me.
Adults who are in worse health are twice as likely to delay or go without care due to cost reasons. Nearly 20% of adults in worse health delayed or did not receive medical care due to cost barriers, while 9% of adults in better health reported the same.
And the cancer may well get me in the end. But what I can do is shine a light. I can illuminate the plight of those stumbling in darkness and praying to their God that nine human beings in black robes do not get to play God and determine that they are unworthy of protection.
The world does not need another person confusing himself for the revelatory luminescence.
But it does need someone to shine a flashlight. And when my wrists grow weak, what I hope is that someone behind me takes it from my hands, replaces the batteries, and keeps walking forward, shining the light the whole time.
The path is clear because people like you, and my Grandpa work hard to forge it. We just need the simple courage to not stumble around in the dark.
If the Supreme Court decides to play God, then they have exercised judgment over a law.
But they have no jurisdiction over light.