Sunday, January 22, 2017

One Face of Obamacare

If you're like most of us, you can't wrap your mind or heart around really big problems. Here's an example. Remember the earthquake in Haiti in 2010? It killed about 200,000 people and left 2 million homeless. At the time, I sent money to help deliver clean water to the earthquake victims, but honestly I wasn't terribly moved by the suffering of all of those faceless people. It was too overwhelming to shoulder all of that grief, and even though their lives would never be the same, my own life went on just as it always had.

I see something similar happening in America right now. In the coming months, 20 million Americans may soon be without health coverage, if efforts to repeal portions of the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a Obamacare) succeed.

Can you picture that? Twenty million men, women, and children with no health coverage?

Neither can I. How do you put a face on that many people?

Let me help you. Here is one person who will lose her healthcare if this legislation passes. Meet my sister Amy, who suffered a massive stroke in March of 2016. The stroke left her virtually paralyzed on her left side.

Amy four months after her stroke

Nothing brings Amy more joy than spending time with her family. She dearly loves her nieces and nephews. She loves to play games with them.

Amy and our nephew Charlie
During her recovery, she has rediscovered a love for drawing. She also loves reading and creative writing.

Amy has a passion for dogs. Petting her dog has even been part of her physical therapy.
Amy and Howie

Most of all, Amy loves the Lord. Her faith carried her through some very dark hours, when she didn't want to live. Although she battled depression and despair in those early weeks, she ultimately realized that God had spared her for a reason, and she chose life.

When she started rehab, her therapists told her that her recovery was in her own hands--and feet. She would get out of therapy only what she put into it. Amy took those words to heart, and she made us all proud. Over the last nine months, she has pushed past her physical pain and discouragement and thrown herself into physical, occupational, and speech therapy.

All of that hard work paid off. Despite the initial predictions that she might never regain much of her physical function, Amy is learning to walk again. 

Amy received a standing ovation when she walked
into our brother's house for a family gathering.

The most beautiful thing has been seeing Amy's humor return, along with her dazzling smile. Amy is full of life. She doesn't wallow in self pity, but looks for the joy in every situation. She brightens the lives of both her fellow patients and her therapists. 

According to those therapists, Amy could make a full recovery with another year or so of intensive rehab. It's been slow going, but she's starting to regain modest movement in her left shoulder and a little strength in her left hand. With continued treatment, she could possibly return to part-time work in the future.  

Unfortunately, Amy's recovery could soon stall. Without health coverage, she will not be able to afford any more therapy. She does not qualify for Medicaid, and our family cannot afford private insurance. The only individual plan that would cover her rehab center comes with an $800 monthly premium and an $8000 deductible, and it would leave her responsible for thousands more after the insurance portion is paid. This plan is not a feasible option for a person living on disability, with a family who is not wealthy. 

Without rehab, Amy will rapidly lose ground. Her hand will curl into a useless claw, and she will never regain any movement in it. She will be unable to afford the 28 medications that are necessary to keep her healthy, control her diabetes, and prevent another stroke. In short, she could die. 

Amy worked hard her entire life. She paid taxes and contributed to society as a nurse and later as a payroll specialist. Although she was a valued employee, she was eventually terminated because her company had to hire a replacement. At that point, she was able to obtain coverage through the ACA marketplace. Now she stands to lose that coverage. 

What will happen to Amy, and millions of others, if Obamacare is repealed without a replacement plan? Some of them will die. Some of them will receive care at county hospitals and government-run clinics. We will still be paying for their healthcare, but through different avenues. 

I realize that Obamacare is far from the perfect solution, but repealing it without a replacement is not the answer. 

I hope that Amy's story has touched you on some level. I know there are millions of other stories, but I could only share one with you. 

Here are a few things that you can do to help Amy:
  • Respond to House Speaker Paul Ryan's phone poll and vote in support of Obamacare. Call (202)225-0600 and press 2 to hear the options. When you call, you'll hear silence for a long time. You won't be able to leave a voicemail, but you can vote in the poll. 
  • Contact your federal representatives. A phone call is best, but an email is good, too. Find your representatives here.
  • Watch for protest marches, and join one. Or start your own. 
  • Share this story with others on social media. Better yet, share your own story or the story of someone you love. Show us the faces of Obamacare. 

No comments:


Related Posts with Thumbnails