An “Aye” Vote for the Chief Justice and Health Care

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The renewed and improved CFR is back on-line just in time for what appears to be a very close Presidential Race. But the election isn’t the only important event of 2012.

On June 28, 2012 the Supreme Court voted in favor of upholding the majority of the President’s Affordable Care Act, or as many childish naysayers have derisively dubbed it, “Obamacare.” Now that the final word has come down affirming the legality of the central legislative accomplishment of President Obama’s term, the individual mandate, Conservatives are beside themselves with angst and bewilderment. They are especially angry at Chief Justice John Roberts. How dare he, a Conservative Justice, not do as he was told! How dare Roberts actually look at the Constitutionality of this law and agree that it was, in fact, Constitutional! That’s not what he was supposed to do. With a Supreme Court stacked with Conservative Justices, how did this ruling go so wrong?

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I believe it’s because Mr. Roberts actually did his job. The other Justices may have voted primarily along party lines, but Robert’s ruling declared that the fine imposed on those not purchasing health insurance was actually a tax that the government had the power to impose. He looked at the facts, the Constitution and left party lines outside the room.

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I like to imagine that Roberts, feeling bad about the disastrous Citizen’s United Ruling, made up for that lack of common sense by ruling that healthcare was a right not a privilege. But that’s my imagination and therefore not to be taken seriously. Healthcare a Right! That’s rich. Rich, because at this point, you need to be either rich, have insurance through your employer, over 65 or very poor to be able to get insurance in this country.

For many years, I fell into none of those categories. I have been employed my entire adult life, but not all jobs have come with insurance. At times I would have employee insurance but many of these years I did not as I was working as a freelancer. Since I could never afford the monthly premiums of even the most basic of insurance, I ran around hoping that I stayed healthy and that I didn’t have an unfortunate meeting with a bus.

Luckily, I come from very healthy stock. At least that is what I believe since my own dietary and physical activities are not what I would suggest one do to stay healthy. Until recently, I have had a remarkably injury and illness free existence. I have been part of those in their twenties and thirties who don’t buy healthcare because they are seemingly healthy.

But the last year has been a rude wakeup call. I was diagnosed with Stage One Melanoma last year following a routine freckle check. My sister has had two Melanomas and they can be hereditary. Because it was caught early, I had the offending freckle surgically removed and am 100% Melanoma free! But, I have to have a freckle check every 3 months for the next 2 years. Then on June 27th, I had major spinal surgery to fix cervical vertebrae that had become arthritic and led to 6 months of terrible arm pain. I’ll spare you the gory details except to say there are parts of me that are now titanium. Once again, I was fortunate enough to have full insurance through my current employer. And I am very grateful for this.

But after many years with no insurance, I have no doubt that there would have been no freckle check and that small melanoma unseen by me (it was on my left hip) would have gone on to attack my lymph nodes and eventually kill me. Without insurance I would not have been aware of this cancer until it was too late. Without insurance, the emergency room would be my Primary Care Physician as it was in the past. And without insurance, I may have been too sick with Stage 2, 3 and 4 Melanoma to have even noticed that my left arm was starting to cause me great pain.

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I don’t’ mean to go on about my personal health history, but I have spent the last 18 months with 2 major medical situations. While I am lucky to have had the insurance to cover these costs, I am always reminded of the years living in fear of getting ill. I am not alone in this. I know many working adults who do not have insurance. The affordability of the most basic coverage is more than they can afford. I do not know anyone with that extra $500 a month to spend, do you?

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On June 28th, I felt a huge sense of relief and gratitude to Justice Roberts for his life changing decision. I know the GOP will spend precious time once again trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act. These twisted representatives clearly do not care about the millions of people who will be able to buy into the (imperfect to be sure) insurance exchanges. The GOP is so angry, they are willing to waste my taxpayer money in a vote that will not even get out of the House. Meanwhile, there are now 11 Governors who, like angry children stamping their feet, are saying no to implementing Obamacare (yes, I will use this name!) in their states.

The Agency for Health Care Research and Quality has awarded Texas the title Worst State for Health Care. Yet Governor Rick Perry is a leading opponent of a law that will enable millions of Texans to join in the exchanges and get good affordable health insurance. Good for you Rick! Sticking to your guns like a big boy! Who cares that 25% of your constituents do not have health insurance, the highest in the nation! They probably aren’t voting for you so screw them, right!

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Not that it matters as in 2014, the government will simply create the health care exchanges anyway so these are hollow words said to make a point. Politics, sometimes I just want to slap you.

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I, for one, say yes! It’s time we put the health and welfare of our citizens on par with the rest of the industrialized world. It’s time we treated health care as a right not a privilege for those who can afford it. I’m thrilled we won this round, but as a beleaguered Democrat, I know the fight is not over. The GOP will spend every minute blocking any and all efforts by the President to improve the health of this country. They don’t care about the individuals who will be affected by their intolerance of this administration. But on June 28th I breathed a sigh of relief, thanked Justice Roberts, and then sank back into my hospital bed, a shot of painkillers dripping into my arm and fell into a drug induced, Supremely happy sleep.