In life we have choices. Choices about how we live our lives. Choices about what kind of people we want to be. Choices about how we want to treat each other. Our life is full of choices, some insignificant and some life altering, but nonetheless, they are still choices. The choice that Republicans made this week to deprive tens of millions of Americans of health care was just that, a choice.
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan chose to stand before the American people and proudly lie about whether pre-existing conditions were covered under Trumpcare. Republicans chose to vote for a bill that they hadn’t read and that hadn’t even been scored by the Congressional Budget Office. Donald Trump chose to peddle in outright falsehoods to exploit the cultural insecurity of voters who continually vote against their self-interest. This didn’t have to happen, Republicans made a choice.
What wasn’t a choice was my pre-existing condition. Shortly before I went off to college I was diagnosed with Polycythemia, a blood condition that is extremely rare in individuals under 20. Polycythemia affects approximately 2 out of every 100,000 people in the general population. I didn’t choose my diagnosis, no matter what Republican Congressman Mo Brooks chooses to believe. It wasn’t something I wished for and isn’t something I can get rid of. It is with me for life.
Because of the protections of Obamacare, I was able to get access to health care. Because of the protections of Obamacare, insurers were no longer allowed to put my health at risk. If the health care bill Republicans passed in the House passes the Senate, that will no longer be true. For the rest of my life I will remember two days extremely clear: the day I had to explain to my family what the doctor had just told me and the day I watched Republicans gleefully celebrate taking away my insurance, like a bunch of immature frat boys.
Under Trumpcare, people like me will go into underfunded high-risk health insurance pools. Under Trumpcare, our nation will treat health care with less regard than car insurance. Under Trumpcare, we will choose to slip further into a reality that even Republicans like Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and George W. Bush knew was morally bankrupt.
Under Trumpcare, people like me will go into underfunded high-risk health insurance pools.
On the National Day of Prayer, Republicans began the day by invoking Jesus Christ and the teachings of the Bible. They asked God for divine guidance and the strength and wisdom to chart a course for the future. They spoke of humanity, liberty, and the need to practice one’s faith, not merely in an academic manner, but in a practical one as well.
What Republicans forgot to mention was that Jesus fed the hungry and healed the sick. Jesus gave sight to the blind and sacrificed himself for all of humanity. What Speaker Ryan, a man who speaks often of his Catholic faith, forgot to mention was one of Jesus’s most famous teachings, “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”
Our decisions have consequences. Our choices have long lasting effect. Voting to enact Trumpcare will cost people their lives, that is not bluster, that is not fake news, that is a fact. Under Obamacare, millions of Americans woke up every day knowing that they would not have to choose between their health and their home. Under Obamacare, millions of Americans went to bed knowing that their government chose to protect the health of its citizens. Under Obamacare, the United States was one step closer to meeting its moral obligations.
Let’s be very clear, health security is national security. How we prioritize spending is a choice.
Let’s be very clear, health security is national security. How we prioritize spending is a choice. Spending more than $600 billion on the Defense budget while spending $69 billion on the Department of Health and Human Services is a choice. Ranking 34 out of 35 in childhood poverty for developed nations is a choice.
As the sun set on the National Day of Prayer, Republicans chose to ignore the teachings that they began the day invoking. In the days to come we too will have a choice. Will we continue to talk about how great of a country we are or will we chose to make our actions live up to our words? Will we have an honest conversation about fixing an imperfect piece of legislation or blow up the proverbial house because the dishwasher is broken? Each and every one of us has a choice. Staying silent is not one of them. Whether spoken through words or actions, we will each make a choice. Because at the end of the day, in life, we have choices. My pre-existing condition wasn’t one of them.