The Affordable Care Act, better known as "Obamacare," was signed into law by the President whose name it bears on my 62nd birthday, March 23, 2010. This coming Sunday it will have been the law of the land for four years. Over five million people have signed up for the program so far, many in states like Kentucky whose legislators constantly belittle the program and untiringly fight for its repeal.
The Republican members of Congress have voted a shameful fifty-two times to get rid of this life-saving and very humane piece of legislation.
I am not enrolled in Obamacare. I have "good" healthcare insurance through my former employer, and my Medicare Part B card arrived in the mail today. (Thank you, LBJ!) I am, like all of the members of Congress, one of the lucky ones. The difference between myself and most of the Republican Congress creatures is that I understand the Christian ethic of taking care of those whose lives have not been as fortunate as mine. I see people in need; Republicans see moochers. My lens is compassion, theirs is greed.
Last year, in fact - one year ago tomorrow, I underwent open-heart surgery. I don't know what the total bills amounted to because my "good" insurance stepped in and picked up most of the costs. But even with the help from the insurance company, the bills that I had to pay just kept on coming. Today, as I was preparing my taxes, I tallied up those bills. The total was just below six thousand dollars. Six-thousand-out-of-pocket dollars! And that was with good insurance.
If I hadn't had the insurance, I would not have been able to have gone to the series of doctors who were able to diagnose my situation. The emergency rooms would have given me the short shrift over the symptoms I was displaying. I most likely would have died sometime during the past year. I had good medical care - members of Congress undoubtedly have even better medical care.
So why can't we suck it up and allow poor people to have the chance of a few extra years with their loved ones? They have loved ones, you know. Why all of the hate-mongering when we should be rejoicing that government did something to benefit the least among us? Didn't Jesus say something about treating others as we would like to be treated?
Now the Republicans are focused on taking the Senate. So far the Senate has stood firm in pushing back the never-ending attempts to repeal Obamacare. If the Senate falls, vote number sixty, or sixty-five, or seventy will pass and face a presidential veto. Hopefully, they won't have the votes to override the veto because if they do, millions of Americans will suddenly find themselves back to skipping needed medical care or getting their care in the war zones commonly referred to as emergency rooms.
Losing Obamacare would be a big step backward. It would be deadly.
There were people who didn't like the idea of Medicare either when it became law in the 1960's. Eventually the program survived long enough to blossom into a popular staple of modern life.. Now people cherish their Medicare coverage, but many of those same beneficiaries of a government-funded medical program don't want others to have a similar opportunity for healthcare - at least not healthcare funded by the government. The healthcare of members of Congress is, of course, ultimately funded by their employer - the federal government.
2014 may be a good year for Republicans - but 2016 won't be.
Hey Mitch, hey Orange John Boehner, hey every Republican slug in Congress - hunker down! Hillary's coming! We won't be giving up Obamacare, at least not without one hell of a fight!