Is insuring the health and well-being of your child the most important responsibility of a parent?
I would say so, and like to think of myself as a good dad. But sometimes, as I have learned alongside many parents of uninsured kids across our nation, it is simply beyond our reach.
My 20 year-old daughter Jessie recently experienced not being able to secure health insurance. My wife and I feared her having a sudden medical emergency we could not afford.
Today under Obamacare, young people can remain on their parents' health care plan until the age of 26. However, after taking time off from college and thus ending her university's health insurance plan, Jessie was denied new coverage by several providers because of a pre-existing condition.
I will never forget the first insurance company rejection. The friendly Kaiser agent told me over the phone that coverage was denied due to tachycardia, which is a non life-threatening heart arrhythmia that we discovered when Jessie was seven. While the condition does not require treatment, and she only had a few routine doctor check-ups for it over the years, the company denied her coverage.
That rejection came on March 23, 2010, the very day that President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law. I was pleased for the country, but worried for my daughter. Other insurance providers also refused her coverage. So we learned to cope -- until now.
Starting this month, my daughter was finally able to secure health insurance through Obamacare. Jessie is one of about 12,000 people in California who receives coverage through the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan. The temporary program was set up by the state under the Affordable Care Act for people whose medical histories made obtaining coverage impossible. It is aimed at bridging the insurance gap until 2014, when the health reform law will ban insurance companies from denying coverage for previous health conditions.
I know that my daughter is more fortunate than the millions of children whose parents cannot afford health insurance. Some have to witness their own children dying needlessly in emergency rooms. Can you really imagine that?
There is great fire and fury over health care in America. But I think the president had it right when he told the country after the Supreme Court upheld the law last week that no American should have to "hang their fortunes on chance."
Like a parent, there is surely no more basic responsibility for a president or any political leader than to insure the health and well-being of the people.
I am grateful to President Obama for helping get my daughter back on health insurance. Mitt Romney should also be proud of supporting a similar care system in Massachusetts.
On July 4, the country celebrates our independence from foreign tyranny. Can we now come together -- unlike the raging Tea Party summer of two years ago -- to recognize our interdependence of caring?
What we do for one another -- like insuring access to affordable health care -- sometimes requires our leaders to take action for the common good. Whipped up fears about the tax man or government takeovers are a sad sideshow to doing what is decent and right.
My son, and youngest child, graduated high school last month. The nest that my wife and I tended the past 20 years is quieter this summer.
However, I can rest a good bit easier today knowing that even if one of my little birds takes a fall out there in the world, she will have the coverage and care to mend it.