The AHCA is Not the Answer for Obamacare
The ACA isn't perfect. I'll be one of the first to admit that. I'm not here to talk about those failures though.
I'm here because 3.5 years ago, Amanda and I went to San Francisco together, and she traveled in a wheelchair.
If you've ever thought flying was a hassle, try flying while walking impaired. To summarize, it's humiliating. The airline makes the rider place their chair in baggage, and literally carries them to their seat in front of other passengers. Few things declare, "this person isn't like you" or feel more isolating than being carried around in front of a staring audience who's asking "what's wrong with HER?"
Fast forward to early 2014. We returned from our trip (the airline had to pay for repairs on our chair, by the way), and visited the Multiple Sclerosis Specialist. Due to lack of insurance, we had cut back to seeing him once a year, however, with new ACA provisions finally activating, she was covered. This was our first visit with insurance in a couple of years. With the new knowledge about insurance and experimentation with several medications, he suggested a new one that demonstrated a history of reducing symptoms and the number relapses a patient might experience.
The Specialist sent us home with a new injection to take three times a week. Monday, Wednesday and Saturday nights became a religious ceremony of preparation, shots, and ordering new medications when necessary.
During this time, Amanda continued grad school while I worked. She would spend every moment out of the house in a chair. We’d go to Walmart. Chair. The Mall. Chair. School. Chair. Every day was a struggle and a question: “What if this place doesn’t provide chair access?” (Yes, they exist in Tennessee). Several months progressed with very little change.
One day, there was a sale in the Mall. Of course, you can’t miss a sale in the Mall. I was preparing the wheelchair for our ride. We have a Mini Cooper, so wheelchair prep isn’t simple. First, one has to lower the back seats, then remove the chair’s wheels, and fold the chair half way. There is a small battery to place under everything in the car seats, so that goes in first. After, lay the chair in sideways, and carefully hold the wheels up while you close the hatch. At the last second, remove the hand holding the wheels, and hope they don’t fall in the way as the hatch clicks. I was about a third of the way into this process (Imagine not having a Caregiver to help, by the way).
Then it happened. Amanda walked out with her cane.
“Hey. Let’s leave that today” she quipped, “I’m going to use my cane.”
I was stunned. Was she joking? We’d spent a couple years with this chair. I had a routine! How could we make such a drastic change? But she wasn’t kidding. I put the chair back inside, and over the next year and a half, we walked, one step at a time, back into a gymnastics studio. The video here tells the rest of the story.
The provisions in the ACA are not a political joke, with some “random freeloaders” raising the prices for healthy people. They affect real people who have real needs and real medical conditions. Amanda can now work full time, pays taxes, and attends gymnastics three times a week. This would never have been possible without the ACA. Whether you believe it or not, the AHCA does not provide those protections. It allows states, likely the conservative ones like Tennessee, to receive waivers that would place her in an ever-threatened pool of “those peoples”, eventually possibly pricing her out of insurance entirely.
If the Senate adopts the AHCA, or if any version of this becomes a reality, Amanda might find herself in that wheelchair again, struggling every day more than she already does. This struggle is unnecessary because we’re the richest nation on the planet. If we truly are the best country in the world, we can handle taking care of our sick.
Call your Senators. Don’t put Amanda back in a wheelchair. Let her continue to fly.
Story originally posted here