Health Care and the Party of No

March 19, 2010 § Leave a comment

Today, as I rode my bicycle to work, I noticed a small airplane circling downtown Boston towing a sign that read, “Vote Yes on Health Care”. Having recently left a job (that provided excellent benefits and heath care) to return to school, I recently confronted the very real possibility of losing my own health insurance. Luckily, due to the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act passed in 1985 I was able to extend my former employer’s health insurance coverage until my (much cheaper) school insurance plan kicked in. As a student, I no longer have vision or dental coverage, although my medical coverage seems adequate.

I realized, as I planned my departure from the corporate world, how very fortunate I have been, having never before needed to worry about medical bills. As a child, my father’s employer offered coverage for our whole family. My mother worked, but her employer did not offer coverage for part-time employees. Together, my parents helped me to attend college, an increasingly expensive privilege. My degree allowed me to quickly find a job that payed well and provided a generous benefits package.

For so many Americans, however, none of this would have been possible. Many lost jobs in recessions over the last thirty years. Simply being well-educated or hard-working did not prevent millions of Americans from losing their health care. Even those who managed to pay for individual health care plans out of their meager wages sometimes found insurance companies abandoned them when they needed care the most.

Now, the Republican leadership, stung by their defeat in 2008, has vowed to sacrifice the health and well-being of millions of Americans in order to achieve a short-term political victory. Their refrains of “no more big government” are hollow and false. Where was the outcry over government spending when the previous president opted to divert forces to begin a preemptive war in Iraq? Where was the outcry over unfunded tax cuts for wealthy Americans, at a time when income gaps between the rich and poor were larger than ever?

Recent polls show that 45% of the American public approve of Barack Obama’s performance as president. Here in Massachusetts, we recently elected an opponent of health care reform to the U.S. Senate to replace Ted Kennedy; many in the media chose to view that event as the beginning of the end for Obama, in spite of the millions and millions of Americans who still believe that real change can happen.

I still believe in Barack Obama. I still believe that health care is a right, not a privilege. I still believe that we can make a difference.

I can’t vote on the health care bill, but at every opportunity I will vote out any politician who does not support Obama’s efforts to provide health care to every single American.


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