I have given a lot of thoughtful consideration to the whole health care reform debate.
I've listened to the pros and cons and tried to understand the variety of points of view that exist on the topic.
I've gone to sleep at night thinking about whether health care coverage is a right or a privilege and how to decide who should have it and who shouldn't.
I've been upset over the Stupak Amendment, how I firmly believe that reproductive care, including abortion, is an essential part of women's health care and how sick I am of hearing people (read: men) who will never have a uterus tell me how to control mine. Yes, I know the Hyde Amendment that went into effect in 1977 prevents federal funding of abortion and I believe it's wrong and discriminatory too.
I've believed from the beginning that the only solution to the health care crisis we face (and let's be sure, we do face a health care crisis), is single-payer universal health care coverage and struggled with the fact that the current bills don't even include a public option, yet mandate everyone get coverage.
I've heard countless people approaching or over 65 scream about "no socialized medicine," while posting on Facebook that they're signing up for Medicare and researching Medicare Supplement policies and bit my lip not to scream "Hypocrite!" and a few other choice words. I'd have far more respect for people against universal health care for all if they'd stand on their principles and turn down Medicare, which last I checked, is still single-payer health coverage for people over 65.
I've struggled with whether I support the bill currently before the House of Representatives or whether it should be voted down because it doesn't provide universal health care or even a public option.
At the end of the day, however, I think we have to start somewhere.
I know too many people in our country who go without health insurance because they can't afford it or can't get it because of pre-existing conditions. One of my girlfriends is a single mom with a special needs child who goes to bed every night worried about what would happen if she lost her job or her employer-provided health insurance. How would she afford Cobra? How would she find insurance to cover her child and that she could afford? As I've written about before, my dad lost his job last year. Cobra wasn't available to him because his company closed. He has epilepsy and asthma and went months without insurance because he couldn't get it and struggled to pay for his epilepsy drugs out of his own pocket. A friend of mine told me yesterday about attending a funeral recently for a young man in his 30s who died because he had no health insurance and couldn't afford the treatment that would have saved his life. None of these are isolated stories. Somewhere around 43 million people in America are uninsured and even more are under-insured.
The health insurance bill scheduled to be voted on by the House of Representative on Sunday isn't perfect. But it's a start. It's a start we must make because quality, affordable health care isn't a privilege; it's a right. And anyone who thinks this isn't about them because they have good health insurance, just hasn't faced a personal health care crisis, disruption, or change in the terms of their health insurance . . . yet.
Health care reform is about all of us. It's about how we care for each other. It's about the content of our character.