I was a thirty-four-year-old, divorced mother of three, in college and working part-time, when I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. It was not a result of anything I did. Despite exacerbations where I lost vision, lost the ability to walk, suffered pain, and spent most of my time physically drained, I continued moving forward. I had children to support.
Did I plan to be married to a man who would physically and emotionally abuse me? No. Did I plan to have a genetically pre-disposed illness? No. Did I plan to be divorced? No.
I worked for years in a variety of jobs; telemarketing and retail when I couldn’t get anything else, childcare as an after-school director and a three-year-old teacher, and eventually as a social worker assisting families on TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) move to self-sufficiency. I had periods when I had to rely on one form of government assistance or another; when I had ruptured discs, when I had incapacitating exacerbations, when I wasn’t able to find a job. I always bounced back.
I worked for the state of Tennessee assisting TANF (Temporary Aid for Needy Families) become self-sufficient through job training, education, and empowerment. When former Governor Phil Bredesen (Tenn) formed a Task Force to study the best procedures for success in the program I was honored to be included as part of the group.
For almost fifteen years I was on a weekly injection to control MS exacerbations. This medication initially would have cost $1000. monthly, eventually rising to over $2000. Because I had healthcare through my employer I was able to afford it at substantially less. If I had been denied treatment due to a pre-existing condition I would not have been able to work those many years. Most likely I would have become dependent on the government to subsidize me and my children until they were old enough to be self-sufficient. I had to have periodic MRI’s and blood tests to assure the medication was beneficial to my health. Tests I would have been denied as they were the result of a pre-existing condition. Instead of being a burden to the country I was a tax paying contributor because I had proper healthcare.
At sixty-one I was unable to continue working. Fortunately, my children are grown and independent. I have remarried and have health care through my husband’s employer. I am eligible for Medicare in February of 2017. That being said, I have several pre-existing conditions. In addition to MS, I have the disc issues, scoliosis, arthritis, hypertension, and not surprisingly, suffer from anxiety and depression.
Did I cause any of these conditions? No. If the proposed Graham-Cassidy Healthcare Bill passes where will I stand?
According to an AARP (American Association of Retired Persons) study, “on average, a 60-year-old earning $25,000 a year could see their healthcare payments rise by as much as $16,174 a year — due to premiums and out-of-pocket costs, according to the study.” That’s bad news for me. And it’s only part of the picture.
According to Avalere, funding to states would be reduced by $215. BILLION through 2026. “The proposed legislation would repeal the ACA’s Medicaid expansion, premium tax credits, cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments, individual and employer mandates, and the Basic Health Program (BHP). Instead, the bill would provide states with block grants to fund health insurance coverage in their state. The bill would also change the financing structure for the traditional Medicaid population from an openended (sic) approach to a fixed per capita cap or block grant approach.”
In other words, people like me, people who have paid taxes for most of their lives, would be left to decide between food and healthcare, housing and healthcare, life and death. The poor and middle class would flounder (22 million!). We will be reduced to being a third-world country. But the rich healthcare markets, the lobbyists, and our country’s representatives who have been elected to care for us all equally and fairly will grow wealthier and stay healthy.
“States would have broad flexibility to shape their markets but would have less funding to subsidize coverage for low- and middle-income individuals.”
The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) is flawed. It needs to be reshaped. I have NEVER been its fan. What is being proposed by Graham-Cassidy and supported by Paul Ryan, and praised by Donald Trump, is a death sentence for millions of Americans.
I say shame on the Republicans led by a government that promised to “drain the swamp” and instead has become a swamp for the majority of Americans. It’s time for us to stand up and speak out against this abomination.
The president should stop his pointless and damaging “tweeting” and listen to America. The Senate needs to remember they were voted into office with the expectation they would do what is just and right for ALL Americans, not only the wealthy.
As a disabled senior, I WILL remember. I am not alone. There are elections coming. We vote. We can vote you gone much as your vote for this bill would vote us gone.
Call your Senators, write, fax, protect, but stand up and defend healthcare.
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