I’m relatively lucky that for the next six years, my Ph.D. program has agreed to pay the cost of my health insurance. But as we’re learning, in the aftermath of the GOP passing a bill many of them admit they have not read, if the bill is ultimately signed by President Trump, it will likely affect all health insurance plans, even those issued through one’s workplace like mine. I likely have little to fear, but I know what it’s like not to go to the doctor because of an inability to pay. I know how scary that can be. And I’m heartbroken that it’s on its way to being the law of the land once more.
When Obamacare finally passed and it was clear that we had finally won, I posted on Facebook, “Free at last, free at last”, because to me, the corporations that had been deciding who should live or die for decades had finally lost out, they had finally lost their almighty powers, and so we the People had thus finally been freed from one of the most extensive and horrific systems of economic oppression still running untouched.
I was younger then. I never would have expected the country’s elected officials to swing so far to the right, and I never would have expected that they would replace Obamacare with a bill that likely only funds 1/3 (at best) of those with pre-existing conditions. Suddenly, for the first time in years, I’m afraid of my public admittance to severe cases of depression and anxiety, knowing that someday those statements could affect my insurance options. And I’m struck, in utter horror, at the things that will likely count as a pre-existing condition under the new bill, such as rape.
When I heard the news that the GOP were going to hold a vote, a piece of my heart broke. And when I woke up today to discover that they had passed the bill, another part broke. And I can imagine a world in which more and more pieces of my heart continue to break, as I continue to break, as I proceed to fall apart.
But I refuse to be despondent. I refuse to lose my hope. I refuse to give up on the innocent dream that I held all those years ago that, someday, no one would ever again have to worry about paying for essential health care in the United States. We are better than that, even if our congress(wo)men haven’t figured it out yet.
I’m hurting now. I’m hurting just as I have hurt everyday since November 8th. But I’m going to continue to write my heart out here, and as I move to Michigan, I’m going to find ways to get involved with local politics. As so many of us have learned, politics is a contact sport, one in which people can die, and so we have to get out on the field and fight for what we believe in.
Because, ultimately, they may win battle after battle. They may undo the legacy of President Obama. They may break off pieces of our hearts, again and again. But we have seen what can be done. We have seen full health care reform pass. You cannot put the genie back into the bottle now, no matter how hard they try. We know what we are fighting for, and we know that it is worth it.
To everyone who reads this and is feeling broken today–that’s okay. It’s okay to hurt. It’s okay to be worried about your family or about your own health insurance. I am, too. They truly have hit us where it hurts. But before we’re done, we will make them pay, we will make them hurt, for what they’ve done today. Keep engaged, stay angry, make it clear that House members who voted for this monstrosity will face hard reelections, and turn the pressure up on the Senate now. Because if they see how precarious their colleagues in the House have become because of this vote, they may think twice–or at least take the time to read the damn thing.
Stay strong, friends.