What the Shit, Senators?

The Senate just voted to start discussions on the process to repeal the Affordable Care Act, as we were worried about since yesterday. John McCain, fresh from brain surgery, flew in against standard medical advice to vote to start the process. He says he won’t vote for the bill as is, but who the fuck knows.

VP Pence broke the tie to push the debate forward.

So, what happens now?

According to FiveThirtyEight,

The Senate is now supposed to spend 20 hours, per its rules, debating health care. That’s 20 hours on the Senate floor, not in real time, so that will likely extend into Thursday or Friday.
Once the 20 hours of debate is over, the Senate is expected to vote on a series of “amendments.” Some of these amendments are not really small changes, but entirely new bills, called “substitutes.” Senate leaders are expected to vote on at least two substitutes for sure: the so-called full repeal and replace legislation, which would repeal the Obamacare but delay the repeal for two years, creating a deadline for Congress to write new legislation. The Senate is also expected to vote on some version of the Better Care Reconciliation Act, the proposal for replacing Obamacare that McConnell has been writing. (This is the provision with the controversial cuts in Medicaid.)

Vox also has a handy flowchart and there are some great pieces out there about what’s currently happening:

There are millions of news articles out there about how this bill will destroy MILLIONS of lives.

Straight from the Advocates’ Mouths

We’ve been worried about this for a long time, but especially since the House crap in May.

Abby Norman, one of the most prolific writers within health circles, wrote about her struggles with the healthcare system at large while living with multiple conditions back in October.

She’s not the only one sharing her fears:

Leslie Rott, MHA, PhD, spoke to me about her feelings in the evening after the vote. In addition to her multiple graduate degrees, she lives with multiple chronic illnesses including Lupus and Rheumatoid Arthritis:

I feel like my country doesn’t care about me. Or my family. Or my friends.
I will say that the ACA is not perfect. But it has provided peace of mind as in I can afford the care that I need. Without it, I literally don’t know what will happen. For me, it has been nine years, six different types of health insurance and that has meant peace of mind. It’s scary to think that the same people that want to take my healthcare away are the same people that would deny me disability coverage. So you don’t want to help me with healthcare, you don’t want to help me if I can’t work, but you still want me to pay taxes and be a productive member of society? It doesn’t compute.
Taking away my healthcare is like putting me in front of a firing squad.

Activists took to Twitter to share their dismay freely and openly:

I got messages from several patients who wanted to stay anonymous as well:

I’m definitely afraid of my future with all this healthcare bull… right now I’m healthy ish and able to work. But without adequate healthcare, my life expectancy drops to ten years. I’m 25. Doctors at the ER were afraid I might die from STREP THROAT. Do you know how weird that feels? And it’s not the first time doctors have been afraid some common illness would kill me. They always ask me why I wait so long to see them, and I usually see them less than 24 hrs after the symptoms start. What I’d I now have to worry about ER bills? Will I die because I can’t correctly decide whether or not this particular cold is one I can suffer through or one that will kill me?
I’m currently trying to escape from an abusive situation. I lost my last job because they were looking for someone with more of a “go-getter” attitude. That’s code for “she was too sick, but we have to blame personality so she can’t sue for discrimination.” With Obamacare, healthcare isn’t something I have to worry about. I have to worry about finding shelter that will let me keep my dogs, finding a job, staying fed, etc. But I know my healthcare is covered. And I know it can’t be taken away from me because I have a pre-existing condition.

If hearing directly from patients isn’t enough to tug at your heart strings, I don’t know what will. Organizations from AARP to the AMA to the Arthritis Foundation oppose this bill because it does harm rather than help.

What about you?

I’ve discussed my own health crap often across the internet. I have over a dozen pre-existing conditions that would cost over $6,000 per month to medicate without insurance. Between losing my mental and physical health care access, I would likely lose progress made over the last eight years. Eventually, frankly, I would either die from the lack of treatment, lack of access, or mental health issues.

This isn’t even what bothers me most. I can handle people coming after me, but I can’t handle people going after sick kids like I was — or like my nephew is.

My nephew, Sam, was born with a Critical Congenital Heart Defect called TAPVR. Because of this, he had to have an open heart surgery within the first two weeks of his birth in order to save his life. He’s fine right now as the surgery worked wonders, but could potentially need a future surgery on his heart depending on how things go. Should this surgery be denied as being related to a pre-existing condition? Should Sam suffer the same way his mother and I did growing up, without healthcare and without anyone championing for our safety?

Abso-fucking-lutely not.

What now?

Conservatives claimed ‘death panels’ would occur with the passage of the ACA. This never happened. However, removing healthcare protections from the nearly 1 in 2 American adults living with a chronic condition — or the 27% of children in the same boat — would, ironically, cause death and morbidity.

For now, tune in and pay attention. Watch and read everything you can.

Show up. Call. Fax. Use Resistbot (by texting RESIST to 504–09).

Keep fighting. Our lives depend on it.

[pic of Kirsten, hands on her head as thought she wants to pull out her hair; she is somewhere between screaming and laughing, and only visible from the chest up; she has on black jeans, a gray tee shirt with white text “Let’s talk about sex — Vibrant”; her hair is reddish-purpleish]

Kirsten is a genderqueer writer, sexuality educator, and chronic illness/disability activist in Wisconsin. She runs Chronic Sex which highlights how illnesses and disabilities affect ‘Quality of Life’ issues such as self-love, self-care, relationships, sexuality, and sex.

Interested in helping with Kirsten’s work? Visit our ‘support us’ page or shoot her some tasty coffee money.