Anyone who wishes to use this text to contact their Republican senator may do so — preferably immediately.
On behalf of the citizens of [my state], of the people of the United States, of the sick, the poor, the “huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” I urge you to vote against repealing the Affordable Care Act, now about to be replaced with legislation that hasn’t yet seen the light of a single congressional hearing. I beg you to consider the scant 18 percent of the population, according to a recent poll, that supports this bill; or the three-quarters of America that firmly believes it needs Democratic input before it can become a fully, fairly bipartisan bill.
I invite you to think about a time you or a family member was rushed to the hospital: of the breathless, panicked call for an $800+ ambulance ride; of the $600 of poking and prodding towards a diagnosis; of the extra $1000 or so for lab testing, perhaps with a $2100 MRI to top it off (a sum already above the monthly salary of most high school teachers); of the discharge that leaves you clutching a treasure map for treatment that will cost you half your paycheck — all of this out of pocket, unless you or your loved one was privileged enough to have private health insurance, or valued enough to be afforded the right to public health care. With this new Republican proposition, much may be uncertain, but one thing is sure: cuts will be made for many with the former at the expense of the latter.
I have long been proud to call myself an American, dear Senator — proud of our inalienable rights, of our mutually assured humanity. But I can no longer believe in a nation whose governing bodies care more about the right to tax breaks for few than the right to health for many. I can no longer stand for a system that values the power to earn over the liberty to live.
Dear Senator, I urge you to consider voting against this bill, if not because of what it may cost you, but perhaps in what you may have to give: compassion. I write this so that you may not find yourself numbered among the heartless, the indifferent, the subjects of headlines growing more pointed by the day, each a more frustrated echo of the last — culminating in this very real, very memorable example: “I Don’t Know How I Should Explain To You That You Should Care About Other People.” I write to you so that your conscience may be clear — or that it may weigh against you all the more heavily.
I write to you on behalf of the mother and her boy with a two-chambered heart, a childish heart overflowing with kindness. I write to you on behalf of the 4-year-old girl who now knows the word “cancer,” whose parents are just two of thousands turning to the crowd-funded generosity of strangers. I write to you on behalf of the autistic child supported by his parents’ private health insurance, but who still can’t speak or walk to the best of his ability simply because their policy doesn’t cover that kind of therapy.
I ask you, finally, to consider who — what — you would be without your health. We have all known loved ones to succumb to the reality of debilitating, intractable pain of all kinds (physical, emotional, and mental), such suffering each time proving its way of making a person less present, less willing to be alive. So I ask again, who would you be without your health, dear Senator? What will your constituents be without theirs? What will our nation become when the best and brightest of our children, the hardest and strongest of our workers are stripped of theirs? Please, Senator, in light of the above, in light of the people you represent, I ask you to reconsider the balance of your scales and ask yourself one final question: can individual wealth really succeed in the absence of collective health? Is it our independence or our interdependence that makes us Americans truly great? Shall we hold more highly our freedom to earn or our willingness to give?
The American people await your decision.