Health care reform is a necessity, not an option

Nearly six months ago, I sat in front of a desktop PC with tears brimming in my eyes. I was watching history unfold before me, when Pres. Barack Obama signed into law the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. I had been waiting for this for years, and now it seemed surreal that it would finally come to pass.

Maybe it seemed surreal to me because it seemed that it had taken forever to accomplish. Or maybe because it felt like my needs and the needs of millions of other Americans were being heard and understood.Or maybe, it seemed surreal to me because I thought,”this was too easy.” I was wrong.

Even as late as Aug. 31, Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty admitted to having signed an executive order to prohibit “Minnesota’s executive departments from submitting applications to the U.S.    for program grants and demonstration projects under the healthcare reform plan that are not required by law or approved by his office,” according to MSNBC.com.

Pawlenty’s lack of support for the federal legislation mimicked the behavior of other states like Virginia, which filed a lawsuit in a federal court against the plan.The lawsuit, which argues that the federal government cannot compel a person to purchase health insurance, was allowed by a judge to proceed.

All of this animosity towards the new health care legislation is agonizing for me. I’ve been very blessed to have great health insurance thanks to my Dad, a federal employee. But, nearly two years ago, I thought that the rug would be pulled out from under my feet, when I was automatically removed from under my father’s plan– on my 22nd birthday. During a time when I should have been celebrating in worry-free fashion, I was constantly stressing out over what we would do.

Fortunately, after some careful consideration, my family found a loophole– I have spina bifida, which qualifies as a “disability.” That meant that I could remain under his insurance plan. Praise the Lord.

Of course, I worried about what would happen as soon as I graduated and got a full-time job, that is, until Pres. Obama signed the act that would guarantee that I could stay under my parents’ health care plan until age 26. So, I wouldn’t worry about it until then.

But, I am worried. In an escalating climate of opposition to everything related to the Obama administration, health care reform is one of the most critical decisions that has been left hanging by a thread. But, we can’t afford to let partisanship destroy any human’s chances for a healthier life. In other developed countries, adequate health care is treated as a right, not a luxury that only a select few can afford.

When I was five, I got a really bad urinary tract infection shortly after a bladder-related surgery. My parents took me to the hospital here in Orlando with a fever, but the surgeon didn’t prescribe the correct antibiotic, and failed to inform my parents that I would need intermittent catheterizations every four hours. After excruciating pain and a persistent fever, Papi and Mami took me to the pediatrician, who discovered that I had a very dangerous type of bacteria. She ordered them to take me to the E.R. immediately.

Once I was admitted, the nurse started taking my vital signs. Suddenly, she couldn’t find my pulse. She got the pediatric infectious disease doctor, and they took my temperature. It had shot up from 102 degrees Fahrenheit to 107, in just a few minutes. I went from watching “Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?” in my room, and chatting with the staff, to going into shock.

They immediately called Code Blue, and at a point, my parents had to leave the room because they couldn’t take it anymore. A social worker approached them, trying to console them, as they thought they were going to lose me.

After the medical team stabilized me, I was taken to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU), where I spent the next two days heavily medicated.

If it hadn’t been for the fact that I was already in the hospital when the infection went from my kidneys into my bloodstream, I wouldn’t be sitting here, in front of my PC, blogging about this.

Having health insurance that allowed my parents to take me to the hospital immediately, literally saved my life. I share this story with you, as difficult as it was for Mami to relate it to me, because I want to do everything in my power to keep this sort of thing from happening to another child, another family. No one should have to live through the consequences that my parents almost did, because they don’t have health insurance.

It’s just wrong.

It is so heart-wrenching to read about the conditions that people in third-world countries must endure. The disease and the far-less-than-adequate resources seem unbearable to us.

Well, guess what? We don’t live in a third-world country. We live in the United States of America, a country that was built on the premise of  “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

Without that first one, the other two seem to be kind of a moot point, don’t they?

If I have my way, America will be in for a Code Blue wake-up call. We should do everything we can before it’s too late and we can’t find a pulse on our health care system.

 

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