Now that the brutal and bruising 2016 Presidential Election is behind us and we’ve waded into the Trump era, maybe we can finally move past some of the most divisive conflicts of the past several years and talk about something else, right?
Haha, no silly!
With Congress and the new President set on a collision course with the Affordable Care Act (in a car stuffed full of dynamite), it seems 100% certain that there will be some sort of upheaval in the healthcare landscape.
While the ACA—AKA Obamacare—was far from perfect and had some room for improvement, there’s also no denying that it brought health insurance to millions and millions of Americans for the first time. More than that, it brought new protections to people who needed it most—namely, those with chronic illnesses that…
- had difficulty obtaining insurance because of a pre-existing condition and
- had trouble paying for their medication because of how quickly they would blow past the lifetime “cap” of coverage.
Politicians can, and will, argue the relative merits of these ideas as policies.
But what absolutely cannot be lost in this debate is that they’re not talking about abstracts; they’re talking about real, flesh and blood people whose lives could quite literally hang in the balance—people like Mary Graham, a young wife and mother living with Hereditary Angioedema (HAE). While some HAE patients have periodic swells a few times a year, Mary’s case is much more severe. She is in constant need of medication to try and prevent the next attack, but even with medication, she has seen more than her fair share of hospitals.
Mary and patients like her rightly fear what could happen if a full repeal of the ACA moves forward—or if the “replace” in the “repeal and replace” mantra is delayed and/or insufficient.
If the pre-existing condition clause is dropped, she may be bidding her health insurance farewell. And if the lifetime cap is re-established, any insurance coverage she might get will quickly become useless as Mary continues her near-constant treatment regimen.
Not all politicians agree with Mary that healthcare is a right and not a privilege—but then again, not all politicians have to live with the day-to-day burden of a serious chronic illness. That’s why voters need to step up and remind politicians that their decisions impact real people. Maybe if they hear from enough voters like Mary, they’ll start making decisions based on what’s best for the people instead of what’s best for their donor base.