I was surprised to see the Affordable Care Act left intact and shocked to learn Chief Justice John Roberts was the swing vote.
I had agreed to participate in a press conference in Charlotte with Health Care for America Now and Action NC, so I was getting ready to leave the house when news of the decision came down.
I didn’t know whether to jump up and down hollering, “We won! We won! We won!” or cry, so I did a bit of both.
At the press conference, I told Mike’s story and I talked about how much I miss him. But I am overjoyed that other mothers won’t face the deaths of their children the way I did. I’m grateful that fewer people will suffer and die because they can’t get access to care.
When Dr. Herbert Hurwitz at Duke University Medical Center adopted Mike and gave us two more years with him, he asked that we write to our legislators and ask them to support access to quality health care for all Americans. I had already done that, but I wrote again. And I wrote some more. Then I did it again.
I felt Mike’s spirit with me when I heard the news. I felt like he was dancing around the family room with me. I was thrilled that 30 million more people will have access to health care thanks to this law, but at the same time, I wish I could have shared the moment with my son.
My son’s illness, his lack of ability to get insurance, or care when he got sick, and ultimately his death set me on a path of lifelong health care advocacy. Too many people say I’m being political about it, but this shouldn’t be political. This is about saving lives — some 45,000 or more of them each year. This is a moral issue because it is about saving human lives. How can anyone claim to be pro-life and be against providing health care to everyone?
How can you say you believe life is precious so you’re against abortion and then turn around and say my son didn’t deserve help?
How can you vilify the poor by calling them lazy bums when you’ve never sat down with them and heard their stories? Is it because opponents of health care reform are so afraid they might be caught between the cracks one day that they have to blame the victims to feel more secure in their own safety?
Mike’s story makes a lot of Tea Party people furious because he wasn’t a lazy bum (nor are most of the other people who are being denied care). I’ve been called a lot of nasty names — and so has Mike — by people who don’t want to admit that it could happen to anyone, including them. They don’t want the stories out there because the stories don’t go with their narrative and they don’t want to change their narrative. That would require disagreeing with what Fox News tells them to believe.
The only reason health care became so political is that big business has co-opted the political process.
People don’t seem to understand that their health care policy premiums have helped pay for this corruption of our system and that the new law will put a cap on the insurance industry’s ability to do that. They must spend 80 percent of the money we pay them on direct care now.
This law is a good start on the road to access to care for everyone, just as Medicare was supposed to be in 1965. The plan was that Medicare would slowly expand downward in age until everyone was covered. Since that never happened, this new path became necessary. It’s a bit of a round-about way to achieve the goal, but OK, I’ll work with it.
Today begins the work toward getting the other 21 million access to care. Let’s start by letting people buy into Medicare if they want.
Leslie Boyd, a former newspaper reporter, is president of the health care advocacy nonprofit, WNC Health Advocates, founded in memory of her son, who died in 2008 because he couldn't access health care. E-mail her at leslie at lettersfromtheleft dot com or follow her on Twitter @leftyletters1, visit Letters from the Left on Facebook. For more information about WNC Health Advocates or to read Boyd's health care blog, visit wncha.org.