Although it is a beautiful day outside here in Seattle, I am glued to my TV, watching C-Span. The twists and turns as the health insurance reform bill wends its way through congress have my stomach in knots.
The prospect of a few zealots, most of whom appear to have a rather limited grasp of what is actually in the Senate bill, causing the most significant legislation we're likely to see for many years to go down in flames is appalling. People are dying for want of health insurance, but apparently the only "lives" worth worrying about are those that are presently contained in their mothers' bodies. Actual living people walking around on this earth don't seem to warrant the same level of concern
Is this bill perfect? It is not. But it's a start, and an important one. For the first time in our country's history, access to health care will be codified as something to which every American citizen is entitled.
I am not poor, nor do I presently lack health insurance. I have paid into our broken healthcare system my entire working life, over 30 years. I have spent months between jobs paying for insanely expensive COBRA coverage just to avoid a break in insurance coverage that would suspend coverage for my preexisting condition. That, for me, would be a disaster. I have Psoriatic Arthritis, a condition similar to Rheumatoid Arthritis, which is treated with the same very expensive biologic drugs.
With these drugs, I am able to function. I won't be running any marathons, but I can walk, button a shirt or cook a meal. Without them, I could do none of those things. Before I started on them, walking even a few feet was absolute agony. Getting out of bed in the morning took me about half an hour. All of the large joints in my body were swollen, red and painful. My knees looked like basketballs. It was, in short, no fun.
The amazing thing is that they don't just control the symptoms of the disease. They actually slow or stop the degeneration in the affected joints. They are as close to a cure for inflammatory arthritis as I imagine we'll get in my lifetime. Unfortunately, they can run upwards of $4000 a month.
This health insurance reform bill will not magically enable everyone who needs them to get them immediately. But it's a start. It's hope. And that's why I'm writing this diary. For all of the people who are suffering like I was, but due to their lack of insurance, are suffering with no hope of getting a treatment that could make their lives livable again. People who are home bound, chair bound, bed bound. I want those people to have a hope, a chance, of having relatively normal, productive lives.
People have asked me why I feel so passionately about this. After all, I have insurance and the means to pay for it. I get the treatment I need. It's because I know that my ability to do those things is due to a simple accident of birth, of having the good fortune to have parents who believed in the value of a good education and saw that I got one. Of having the good fortune to be born into a relatively affluent family. Of being in the right place at the right time. I don't think basing access to health care on accidents like that is a particularly good way to allocate it. We can do better than this bill, and I believe we will. But for now, just pass the damn bill. It's a hell of a lot better than what we have now.