Trumpcare is NOT the answer. Tell your senators to say “no” to the Senate bill.
Whatever you think of Obamacare, the newly proposed Trumpcare is not the answer. While the contents of the Senate bill are still secret (hopefully to be revealed on Thursday), it is rumored to strongly resemble the House bill, which the CBO predicted would strip coverage from 23 million people in the next decade. TWENTY-THREE MILLION. MILLION!
Beyond the sheer numbers, the bill also removes the provision requiring providers ensure coverage for people with preexisting conditions at the same cost as those without. Under this bill, states can choose to repeal the provision and allow providers to charge patients with preexisting conditions higher premiums. The Senate bill is also rumored to contain a provision allowing states to deem their own essential health care benefits, among these care for cancer patients. Meaning that should states not choose cancer treatments as essential health care, they could legally not provide life-saving treatments to cancer patients.
I get it. Obamacare isn’t perfect. Premiums for a lot of individuals got higher, and people are forced into coverage they might not want. But this bill isn’t the answer. Cancer doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t care if you’re rich or poor, young or old, black or white, Republican or Democrat. It doesn’t care if you can afford treatments or not. But when it hits you and your family, I promise you are going to care.
Let me tell you a story. On December 26, 2010, my mom was diagnosed with uterine cancer, and the bottom fell out of my world. She went to the doctor complaining of abdominal pain and came home with the devastating news that she needed emergency surgery to remove the tumor, her uterus, and her ovaries, just to be safe. The surgery happened on December 27, 2010, and by the time the New Year rolled around, she was back at home. She went through radiation to help ensure the cancer was gone, and we went on with our lives. Stunned, shocked, a little quicker to hug, forgive, offer love. A little more willing to take a risk. But pretty much business as usual.
Almost a year to the day later, the cancer was back, this time in her lungs. Luckily, we’d found a specialist at Memorial Sloan Kettering in New York who had warned us that leiomyosarcoma often pops up in unexpected and unrelated places, like the lungs, so we caught it early. As we entered 2012, we headed to Charlottesville to have the tumors removed from her lungs. After a long day in the waiting room, the doctor delivered the good news: they were able to remove the tumors completely. Remission, part 2.
Six months later, the tumors were back. And there were a lot more. Still in her lungs, but too many and too large to remove. So she started a brutal, aggressive chemotherapy regimen to shrink the tumors so that another surgery might be possible, this one much more dangerous and invasive. After enduring chemo for a year, we got the green light for the surgery. We traveled up to Memorial Sloan Kettering to let the specialists take their stab at the tumors. The surgery was so intense that only one lung could be operated on at a time. They butterflied her back to the to the lungs, leaving her with large scars across her back. The procedures left her breathless, requiring physical therapy to expand her lung capacity. But it worked. The tumors were gone. They told us it should give her six months to a year in remission, chemo-free.
It gave her 3. But she was a fighter. She signed up for more chemo, and then more, and more. She lost her hair. Not just on her head, but her legs, her arms, her eyebrows. She lived on a week-to-week cycle of feeling great and being sick. She lost her taste for coffee, which once gave her life.
But the cancer fought back. It stopped responding to the chemo. Lesions grew in her brain, which they removed. A tumor grew in her pancreas, and more appeared in her lungs. Finally, we admitted defeat. My beautiful, strong mother stopped chemo and slowly lapsed into decline. Almost six years to the day after her original diagnosis, my mother passed away in our home, surrounded by her family.
Let me be very clear. We were extremely lucky that both of my parents had jobs with health insurance. We were incredibly fortunate that my dad could afford to stop working for a while to be my mom’s caretaker when things got bad. And we were so blessed that Obamacare was in effect, so that when my mom had to step down from her job, she couldn’t be denied coverage or forced to pay a higher premium for having cancer.
Others might not be so lucky. They might not be able to afford to have one family member quit his or her job to stay home and take care of the sick family member. They might not have employers who let them take off in the middle of the day to drive to Virginia and be with their families. They might not have friends and family who can cook and clean and help take care of their house while they sit at the hospital, next to their dying loved one.
But they should be lucky enough to know that they are guaranteed coverage and treatments. I had lunch with a friend today, who has also battled cancer. He’s doing well, fully in remission, five years later. But he doesn’t have insurance through his job. He’s been lucky enough to find a plan that covers what he needs — he still requires blood work and MRIs and scans on a yearly basis, to make sure the cancer hasn’t come back — for a relatively cheap cost. If this bill passes, he might not be so lucky. He might not be able to afford the coverage he needs to make sure the cancer isn’t back. And if he does get coverage, he still runs the risk of having to pay for scans and MRIs and blood work.
Please. Call your senators. Tell them to vote “no” on Trumpcare. We might need a better solution than Obamacare, but Trumpcare is not the answer.