Once again, I am busy this week writing more letters. Conveniently, Mitch McConnell’s website and email has been down for maintenance so I am not sure whether my letter will reach his office in time. Also, other legislators would not let me email them because I was outside of their district. However, I did manage to get this message out to those who allowed me to contact them. How sad is it that our leaders are making it hard for us to express our opinions on the decisions they are making?
Below is what I sent regarding the repeal of the ACA. This letter was written a few days ago, so it does not include the new changes that I am infuriated about including requiring pregnant women to return to work within 60 days or risk losing Medicaid. Have they also included access to affordable childcare in this new plan because as far as I know childcare continues to be a barrier to full employment as well as hindering families across the United States when a childcare build can exceed $1,000 a month in my area.
Each day I wake up further fired up about making my voice louder and thinking about our policy challenges in the days to come. I hope no matter what side of the aisle you sit on you are just as engaged. As I’ve said before, the election of a leader shouldn’t be the end of our relationship with them, it should be just the beginning.
I write to you today to express my deep concerns over the new replacement plan for the Affordable Care Act. I first want to tell you a little bit about my family and then I will share my concerns. It is my hope that you will take this considerations into account when you cast your vote that will hurt my family.
I am a member of what is called the sandwich generation. I have a young child at home and also within the last two years moved my aging mother into my home so I can better care for her and she can reduce her hours at work. She worked hard her entire life for not only me, but also my sister. She was largely a single parent. She cleaned houses for most of my childhood because it gave her flexible hours to be home for us. However, it also meant that the work broke her body down at a young age. We never had health insurance growing up. I watched my mother stress every time we got sick. The real strain when there was a broken bone. I saw her neglect her own health because we simply could not afford to have health insurance. I know we trivialize that kind of work my mother did in our society. We tend to think less of the working poor who clean our toilets. But, she did what she had to do to keep a roof over our heads. She later was able to move into a management position in retail once my sister and I were older. However, that work did real damage to her feet since she was on them 9-11 hours a day. Her hard work paid off for me though. I am a first generation college graduate that not only earned a BA, but also a Master’s degree and a PhD. I am financially secure enough to care for her.
I also have a young child. A beautiful six year old daughter who loves science. My husband is now a full time student. While I finished my PhD he worked so I could achieve that goal for us. Now, he is pursuing his educational goals and I am supporting us. We are fortunate enough to own a modest home. We own two paid off vehicles, are able to take a nice vacation every other year and make sure our daughter has additional educational opportunities.
I am also fortunate that I have health insurance. Now, my employer and I pay A LOT for that privilege. My 2016 tax form shows where we paid $11,200 in premiums. This plan provides at least a modest amount of coverage for my little family. My mother is also still working enough hours that her company provides her health insurance, but I’ve been concerned in the last year that she will need to drop down further in hours which will eliminate her health insurance. However, I was not very worried because of the expanded Medicaid in Kentucky and I knew she would be able to get coverage through that avenue or if she still made too much for that we could afford one of the plans in the exchange.
The proposed plan changes all of that for my family. I was horrified when I saw the CBO estimates that someone in my mother’s position could have premiums of $14,000 a year. Congressman, we simply cannot afford that kind of cost. I’ve been sitting down over the last few days and putting pen to paper thinking about what this change will mean for my family. If my Mom has to continue to work while breaking her body down further this means I will have my remaining parent for a shorter amount of time. My father passed away 3 years ago after a horrific battle with cancer where I also cared for him. She literally would be working for health insurance. Now, if we decide to drop her hours down and attempt to purchase one of these insane plans she would still be working only for health insurance and I would also have to contribute to paying for this plan. This would mean adjustments to my family and our way of life. Somehow, I cannot imagine this the position she thought she would find herself in after sacrificing so much for her kids. I certainly never expected my government to expect a 60 year old woman who makes working poor wages to pay $14,000 for healthcare. Now, I consider us fortunate. I have the financial resources to figure it out unlike the millions of people who will lose vital coverage under this proposal.
I am, frankly, infuriated with the estimates of how many people will lose coverage. I keep hearing the rhetoric, the talk of coverage was never promised but rather it is about lowering healthcare costs. However, in my review of this plan I see very few measures that would truly lower medical costs. There is no discussion of how to lower prescription drugs. There is no discussion of how to lower and standardize the costs of healthcare across hospitals, states, regions. There is no discussion of how to hold insurance companies accountable. I heard the rhetoric that poor people may have to make the choice to either buy health insurance or an iphone. Congressman, I would jump all over a healthcare plan that cost me $700 for a few years of use. I would jump all over a plan that was $700 per year per person in my household. However, we both know comparing the cost of an iphone and the cost of a health insurance plan is ludicrous.
I do see a clause that assumes the poor are playing the lottery, winning and then hiding this money from the government; so therefore, we need something that says we can go after those winnings for Medicaid. The last time I checked, the odds of winning the lottery are about 1/14 million. We all have a better shot of getting struck by lightning (1/9 million) or getting bit by a shark (1/3 million). Please explain to me why this clause exists? What do our legislators assume about poor people? I also see plenty of clauses about limiting tax credits for women’s health care choices. Congressman, what do you assume about a women’s ability to make her own decisions regarding her body?
I am sickened by a system that is based off the premise of making profit. To me, healthcare is not a privilege. It is a right. It is not a market for profit, but rather something we do as a society because it is the right thing to do for our population. And, I will gladly pay my share so that those who are working themselves into the ground just to provide the basics to their family can also have healthcare. I will gladly do my part so every person in our nation can have access to healthcare. It makes our nation a healthier and more productive place to have a healthy population.
I urge you to vote no for this plan. I urge you to show leadership and collaboration and craft a plan that really does work for the poor, the average citizen, the elderly, children and not just the wealthiest among us. I urge you to radically rethink how we do healthcare in this nation. I would support, campaign for, back up and defend any congressman who has the leadership and bravery to craft that kind of plan.