Although many issues were important to me — and my opinions were represented well across several candidates — one that made me especially motivated was the Affordable Care Act. Between my two daughters and I, we have a host of ailments — historical and current — which would have qualified, before the ACA, as “pre-existing conditions.” I have one daughter who was born with a congenital heart defect that affected her respiratory and digestive health. I have another daughter with a kidney/ureter condition. I have asthma and a severe food allergy. The ACA included within it a protection that kept insurance companies from denying health care because of a pre-existing condition, but President-Elect Donald J. Trump has been quite public about his disdain for the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. Just last week, he was quoted as saying that Obamacare was a “horror” he would “repeal and replace.”
If we are to take him at his word, our next task is to pray — prayer through hoping, emailing, calling, writing, and traditional wailing prayer — that this most important protection made available through the Affordable Care Act remains in effect in whatever health plan replaces it. Even terrible health insurance is better than no health insurance, a reality many who never had insurance until now understand all too well.
I haven’t slept much. Forgive my lack of eloquence: this scares me.
There is a group of people who are uniquely qualified to imagine how to maneuver ourselves into something of a safety net here. These people know how to make things work in an environment full of unpleasant, life-altering surprises. These people are the parents of children with special needs and medical conditions.
The parents of children with special needs and medical conditions have been adjusting their expectations of how the world should look since the moment they took on this role. They do everything with creativity and with their hips into the wind, pushing against adversity. These are the women and men who get wheelchair ramps installed at playgrounds; spend hours and hours in IEP and 504 plan meetings so their children can attend school safely; advocate for research at the local, state, and federal levels; and turn every corner of their day in another direction to get their children fed, clothed, clean, and educated. The love comes easily and drives every instinct of these parents.
Parents of children with special needs and medical conditions: you must help push for this protection in President-Elect Trump’s new health care plan. Your children will age out of your insurance someday. Help. Please, help.
We have many challenges ahead, and we won’t agree on all of them. That’s how democracy works. This one, however, by our nature as human beings belongs to us all. If you have a body and you’ve ever been sick, you should think very hard about how it would feel to decide between keeping your home and getting medical help. Think about all the normal things that young people experience in their bodies as they age: childbirth, aging bones, cysts and rashes, sinus infections. Now add the surprises: heart disease, broken bones, cancer.
Now imagine those things without health insurance, insurance they can’t get because they had their tonsils out when they were six. Insurance they can’t get because they had a heart murmur as a baby. Insurance they’re denied because they were treated for teenaged depression. Insurance unavailable to them because they had oral surgery, appendicitis, or ADHD.
Now, please look at the person we elected and the promises he made, and begin planning.
Let’s figure this out. We need a path forward to keep companies from denying health insurance based on preexisting conditions. I welcome your comments.