Friday, May 12, 2017

Dear Legislator

Recent developments in the healthcare debate in our country have left me feeling powerless. I have tried, for many years, to advocate for people with diabetes and have focused a lot on stigma. Today I heard what a White House official said about people with diabetes. When the stigma is perpetuated by my own government… well it has left me quite deflated. Then I remembered something: I have a voice and it can be heard by my elected officials, but only if I reach out to them. The following is a letter that I will send to my elected officials in Washington, D.C. I urge you to do the same. You can use this link to find the address for your Congressmen/women. Let our voices be heard!

Dear Legislator,

I am writing to express my concerns regarding the healthcare debate ongoing in our country as well to inform you of my wishes as one of your constituents.
Healthcare in the United States is in a shambles and I do not blame that on the Affordable Care Act. Yes, the ACA is imperfect and needs to be fixed, but the thought of the Republican led Congress axing it and replacing it with the travesty you call the American Health Care Act frankly scares me to death. I speak as someone who has a pre-existing condition; two, in fact. I speak as an American who is over 55 but not yet old enough for Medicare. I am among those Americans who will be hardest hit by the provisions in the healthcare act you seek to pass. Not only will older, sicker people be unfairly affected, but millions of people with pre-existing conditions will find it nearly impossible to buy insurance.

The Republican answer to this issue is the use of high-risk pools. Let’s talk about that. According to a study conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation27% of adults under the age of 65 have pre-existing conditions.  This includes pregnant women! People in this group will find it nearly impossible to purchase health insurance unless they are lucky enough to be covered under a group plan (ie: through their employment). These people would be subjected to higher premiums and lesser coverage than other Americans. These are the people who desperately need health coverage! The Republican plan says that these people would be allowed to participate in high-risk pools to assist them in being able to afford their higher insurance premiums. I’m sorry, but I find it ludicrous to think that the government, state or federal, has enough money to fund insurance assistance for 52 million people. High-risk pools have been tried in the past and have most often failed. Also, the idea that yearly and lifetime spending limits would be reinstated is the same as telling people with major illnesses that the government is ok with them dying if their care becomes too expensive.

Another subject that I feel needs to be addressed is the idea that some health issues are the patient’s fault and those people don’t deserve assistance. The stigma that follows people with chronic illnesses is a very serious problem. According to the director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, people who develop certain diseases don’t deserve the same level of health care as others. He said, That doesn’t mean we should take care of the person who sits at home, eats poorly and gets diabetes. People with type 2 diabetes did not cause their disease nor do they deserve to be looked down upon by condescending asshats anyone. (I’ll probably take that out when I write to my Senators. Well, maybe). Gluttony and sloth do not cause type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is a very complicated disease but it does have a genetic component and you cannot blame someone for the genes they are born with. Please see this press release by the American Diabetes Association that explains this quite well. Living with a chronic illness is hard enough without having to battle the stigma and when that stigma is perpetuated by our White House it leaves me feeling hopeless.

The bottom line is that too many people in this country will be detrimentally affected should the American Health Care Act, or something similar, move forward. They will suffer if any change to healthcare includes punishment for pre-existing conditions or caps on benefits. We no longer live in a society where the country doctor makes house calls and is willing to take a chicken for payment. Medicine has come a long way and absolutely every American deserves the same level of affordable healthcare despite where they live, their income level or current health. I ask that you take these issues into consideration when voting/debating healthcare in our nation. You are my elected official and I am counting on you to be my voice.

Kate Cornell