Saturday, November 15
Please President Obama
I know you have a lot on your plate right now – and that you said your first priorities will be the rescuing of our economy and achieving energy independence. Laudable undertakings – and necessary…..but please sir – please don’t forget health care reform. I fear it will get pushed to the bottom of that formidable priorities list – buried under the weight of undoing BushCo depredations. Our country is indeed in crises – no argument there. Only a blind person could miss that. And you are the one responsible for the clean-up. It is to you we all look, our hopeful hearts in our eyes, praying you’ll be a combination of FDR and Kennedy. Fix it, we cry; expecting you to pull New Deal rabbits out of invisible hats. It’s an almost impossible task. So when you spoke recently of the difficulties we all face – that as Americans we will need to be patient and make sacrifices – I understood. We should not expect miracles. Rescuing America might take years. You have set an ambitious agenda. Achieving such lofty goals may eat well into your second term. Gotcha.
Well I’m prepared to make those sacrifices, Mr. President – I am. I’d say we all are. But if you don’t address health care reform soon (and by that I mean immediately upon assuming office) - I may not be around to take advantage of such reforms when they arrive. You see - I’m sick. I’m sick, and I can’t afford the doctor. Oh – my husband has insurance (for what its worth) – but what used to be considered good insurance has dwindled of late. What it covers and what we still owe is now so out of whack - doctor visits have to be balanced against grocery bills. Hell - I am still paying off tests I had done last June – and I cannot afford the further exploration and possible surgery those tests indicated I need.
And that’s not the end of it – not by half. Our insurance has once again been downgraded. That means out of pocket expenses for next year have risen to six thousand dollars. I don’t have six thousand dollars, Mr. President. I don’t even have six hundred. And if my husband gets laid off (his company recently sent out emails telling everyone that three thousand employees can expect goodbye letters before Thanksgiving) - there will not even be enough to pay for the medication I so desperately need to just get through the day (chronic pain is one of my illness’s consequences). I spend sleepless nights worrying about that, you know – about that, and about what I’ll do if my husband loses his job. What if there’s no insurance? If I cannot afford my medication? And what happens if, on top of that, we also lose our home?
I’ve been homeless before, you know – 25 years ago. It was hard enough then: The fear. Being hungry. Listening to drunks and crazies tear apart the shelter – wondering if I should take my chances sleeping under the overpass with all the passed-over Vets (Vietnam back then. I’m sure they’ve been replaced by Iraqi and Afghani Vets now). The shame of interviewing for work wearing the same stained clothes and worn out shoes as the day before. I really don’t think I can handle it now - especially sick. I mean - the pain’s bad enough on its own - but I can hardly walk any more. Navigating the sea of obstacles betwixt my bedroom and my office is an exodus worthy of Leon Uris’s attention. So how on earth could I manage living on the streets? The answer is: I don’t know – I really don’t; but it frightens me half to death thinking about it. Like many other Americans, my husband and I are balanced on the edge of a financial knife – just one paycheck away from oblivion. Homelessness is terrifying when you’re healthy. I cannot even imagine such a circumstance now. What I do know is – I’m not likely to survive it.
So please, President Obama – please give a thought to immediate health care reform. I believe, as an American citizen, I have a right to adequate medical attention. It shouldn’t be predicated upon my (or my spouses) ability to pay. My life is as important as yours, Mr. President. Grant me access to the same care you enjoy as a servant of the people. I would really like to be able to vote for you once again, you know. But without help, I’m afraid any future support I might give may be in spirit only.