What is your morning routine? Everyone’s is personal and slightly different, but most of us have a few things we do first thing every morning.
I make some coffee and refill my water bottle. Stretch a little. Give the rabbit his breakfast. Then I check the news to see if I still have access to health care.
Because of the ongoing ACA lawsuit, that little routine is something that millions of Americans do every day. We wake up and wonder if we have been sent back to a time when we lived at the mercy of a predatory health care system.
I remember life before the Affordable Care Act. I am terrified of going back, because I was born with a pre-existing condition. I came into this world with a genetic quirk, a disease that causes episodes of mass swelling. I was just six hours old the first time my lungs failed. Which means I was six hours old when our health care system began teaching me I didn’t deserve to be healthy.
I have spent my life begging to be allowed to be healthy. From denied claims when I was covered by my dad’s insurance, to being “uninsurable” as an adult, to the Trump Administration now trying to destroy the ACA, I cannot remember a time when I didn’t have to fight for the care I needed.
My life before the ACA wasn’t really a life at all. A majority of decisions about my treatment and care were based on what could be afforded out of pocket. I tried to ration EpiPens because replacing a used one would cost my grocery budget for an entire month. More than once, I drove myself to the hospital while experiencing anaphylaxis, because I couldn’t afford an ambulance.
Is it really any surprise that I gave up trying? Emergency rooms for life threatening swelling became my only health care. I was extremely underweight, had chronic respiratory illness, and constant pain. I developed depression with extreme anxiety. I was afraid to be alone, yet equally afraid to be around people.
I believed I was worthless. Our health care system had dehumanized me down to a profit margin, and I believed it.
Then, we elected a president who believed everyone deserves health care, and my whole world changed. I could get the care and treatment I had needed for my entire life. I gradually started to believe that maybe I did deserve to be healthy. Maybe I wasn’t useless.
Things that were unimaginable to me before were suddenly options. I could work! I could be part of my community! I could be human.
So, I pursued a career that I love. I learned how to be around people again. I built relationships. I started to run and swim. Today, I am a baker managing a kitchen for a local ice cream shop, a partner and friend, an activist, and a four time Half-IronMan triathlete.
All of this, because the ACA stands between me and that predatory health care system. If it is overturned, millions of people could lose everything. We are fighting for our lives, not just against illness, but against the greed of an administration more concerned with partisan power than the lives it takes to get it.
President Trump is determined to destroy the ACA, with no concern at all for replacing it. My own Senator, Cory Gardner, fully supports him in this. While we spend our days in fear of losing our very lives, they care only for winning this petty power struggle.
I should not have to wake up wondering if I still have health care. Enough. We must call this out. We must share the truth of what’s at stake. We must hold this administration accountable. We must elect representatives who will fight for us, not for special interests.
The ACA gave me my life, I will not give it back.
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