Dear Senators Murkowski and Collins: Thank You!

Thank you Senators Murkowski and Collins, for your unwavering quest for a healthcare bill that is not cruel. I’m sorry your work is being upstaged by Senator McCain’s come-to-Jesus moment of understanding, but he could not have gotten there without you or the Democrats who stayed true, even those who represent pro-Trump constituencies. But you two, you get my huzzah and thanks for the day.

I’ve tried to tell my Senator, Todd Young, what the ACA has done for my family, but he’s not interested in listening to constituents that don’t agree with him. As one public figure might say, SAD! But I also know from friends who are solely self-employed that the ACA is not perfect. Premiums are too high because of the complete coverage offered. I get that. I understand that. I understand that the ACA is not perfect.

But I also understand that the ACA has solved more problems than it has created. My daughters, all diagnosed with chronic conditions as young women and/or teens, were guaranteed the option of coverage throughout their lives under the ACA and that is huge.

Five summers ago (or was it six? the crush of time of ushering three daughters through high school and into college has made my mind a little mushy), my eldest daughter and I went downstate to Bloomington, IN for her freshman orientation at Indiana University. We were separated from the start and my mind was not nearly as engaged by the people telling me what to expect in this first year of my daughter’s college experience. I was enmeshed with my phone quite a bit–work required me to be present in a way that was distracting, but so, too, was the news cycle. The Supreme Court was about to rule on whether portions of the ACA were constitutional.

On the second day, my daughter and I reconnected in the little room she shared with another young woman. We were alone in the room when the verdict came down, and I started weeping as i read it–a rush of relief washed through my body and came out through my eyes. Just then, the other young woman came into the room.

“What’s going on?” she asked as she saw me wiping my eyes.

I tried to explain. My daughter intervened and finished the explanation because I truly did not have words. It was visceral.

I had carried my dread in my body and I didn’t know it until the news broke. This morning, when I woke to the news that the two of you stayed true to your convictions that this was a bad bill and that Senator McCain finally realized that you don’t vote for a “fraud” or a sham, I was grateful and relieved in a similar way.

We don’t choose to have chronic illnesses. The doctor visits, treatments, and medicines that we take help mitigate the discomfort of physical illness and alleviate the stigma and isolation of mental illness. Not to put too fine a point on it, the mental health care that I received through my husband’s insurance literally saved my life and thus forever impacted the life of my husband and daughters.

Thank you for taking the time to be considerate through this whole mess. Thank you for taking your responsibilities seriously and not as a game to be won or lost. My faith teaches me that we are all here to take care of each other. I appreciate you taking that role seriously. And I think my family does, as well.

With love and gratitude,

Tina