Friday, January 13, 2017

#SOL17: Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, Cancer and Financial Ruin

Earlier tonight, I'm reading before finishing  preparations for dinner when I see a notice from The Guardian flash on my screen with the headline, Congress approves initial measures to repeal Affordable Care Act.

from The Guardian

Take a minute to study the self congratulating smugness that defines these House Republicans. They appear quite pleased with themselves.


Or look at this image of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell from this past Monday.
from The Guardian

After six years of vowing to repeal the Affordable Health Care Act,  these callous clowns are moving ahead. Full steam. No stopping. No plan.

But I'm not here to talk about health care as much as I want to say few words about cancer, grief, and the unnecessary burdening of those who already are bearing too much.

Please listen.

II.


A year ago this February I was wondering if Rob, Devon and I would lose our home. I was wondering if the staggering costs of health care and the loss of income would make living where we do impossible. Our health care payment concerns were tempered, in part, because we had pretty good coverage, amazing family and friends who helped us.

And we needed help.

Cancer treatment is expensive. Neurosurgery is prohibitive. Home care can break the little bit of bank you might still have. My husband could no longer work and had stopped earning any income the summer before and by February, I too stopped working completely so I could care for Rob who had come home to die.  Our health care no longer provided any services and my husband could not care for himself. He required round the clock care.  He could not move his body, sit up, stand, walk, turn himself. He was unable to take a sip of water without assistance. I had no idea how I would care for Rob and pay our bills once spring arrived. It was only my husband's death that saved us from financial ruin.

III.

I think about those dark days when I look at the jubilant faces of Speaker Ryan, his merry cohort of legislators, and Senator McConnell. I wonder how it is possible for them to be so out of touch with the sharp and unnecessary pain their careless actions are causing.

When faced with the imminent death of your husband, the financial ruin of your family, and the understanding that on your slim shoulders rests the financial responsibility of a teenage son who will soon be fatherless and is just a year away from college--and frankly the last thing anyone in such a space needs to worry about is what Congress is going to do to screw them over.

They, like me, are deeply hurt already. The surviving spouse has enough on his or her shoulders without having to now worry if the bit of cushion their health care plan provides is also going to be yanked away.

Adding uncertainty to such injury is nothing less than cruel.


IV.

Right now in the United States there is a husband, a dad dying of cancer.  There beside him is a wife who is facing what I faced a year ago.  That heartbreak alone, that immense loss is more than some can carry. At least I didn't have to worry that the multi-million dollar medical bills that were piling high as Rob's treatments failed one after the next would also be my sole responsibility. My health care insurance paid the majority of those bills.

Now, I would not know that.
Now, I would add worry as I could not know what the irresponsible GOP in Congress would be doing as I cared for my husband in his last weeks of life and comforted a young son who would no longer have his dad.

Why anyone would want to add to that grief, stress, and fear is impossible for me to understand.


V.

Fix health care?
Yes.

Revise the Affordable Care Act to make it better for consumers?
Certainly.

But do it reasonably. Not irrationally.

Shame on Paul Ryan.
Shame on Mitch McConnell.
Shame on all who support this recklessness.

These are little boys who have been tossed a new ball to play with and have no sense about the damage their actions are causing. I imagine these men might think differently if they were faced with the ordinary struggles you and I carry each day. I imagine they might pause a bit if they did not have the finest health care plan for free in their own back pocket.








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