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One of the most glaring issues/problems/concerns for many of us here in the United states, is our lack of affordable health care for everyone. Every child, every young or old person, every human in the United States should be able to access health care without going bankrupt to do so.
The majority of us see heath care as a right, one that all other developed nations agree everyone deserves, so they are providing it; while our Republican legislators prefer to support the insurance companies, the wealthy, and THEMSELVES - since they will always be able to get the health care that they need.
We hear excuses galore. "Our health care wouldn't be as good; or we might have to wait for procedures that are not life threatening; or taxes would be too high, etc;" but what we are constantly bombarded with is that we can't afford it - that there isn't money to pay for it, even though many leading economists have shown us that we could actually SAVE money using such plans as Medicare for All or other plans that provide needed care for everyone, no matter their status or income level.
Most Americans want universal coverage - and it is time we did everything we can to encourage our legislators to make this issue a top priority.
The following edited opinion is from one of my Senators, and I believe she will be one of the ones we can count on to keep this issue before the Congress front and center until we get the health care plan that every one of us has a right to have.
By Kamala D. Harris
Ms. Harris is a Democratic senator from California.
Dec. 29, 2018
In 2008, our mother asked my sister, Maya, and me to meet her for lunch. When we arrived, our mother didn’t seem like herself. We wondered what was going on. Then she took a deep breath and reached out to us both across the table.
“I’ve been diagnosed with colon cancer,” she told us.
I know that many can relate to the emotions I felt in that moment. Even just reflecting back on it now fills me with dread. It was one of the worst days of my life.
The hard truth is that every one of us will go through an experience like that sooner or later, whether it is coming to terms with a loved one’s terminal illness or experiencing our own. My mother was a breast cancer researcher. She understood, from a career of looking at cancer cells under a microscope, that no matter who we are or where we are from, our bodies are essentially the same. They work the same way — and they break down the same way, too.
I remember thanking God she had Medicare. I am so grateful my mother had Medicare, and I will fight for it to be guaranteed to all. There should be nothing partisan about wanting a system where health coverage and care are based not on how much money you have or where you live. We need a system with the goal of good outcomes rather than the goal of high profits. It would save countless lives, and according to recent studies, could trim as much as $5 trillion in health care costs over 10 years.
I believe that health care should be a right, but the reality is that it is still a privilege in this country. We need that to change. When someone gets sick, there is already so much else to deal with: the physical pain for the patient, the emotional pain for the family. There is often a sense of desperation — of helplessness — as we grapple with the fear of the unknown. Medical procedures already have risks. Prescription drugs already have side effects. Financial anxiety should not be one of them.
Logistics, alone, can be overwhelming. I remember that as my mother’s condition worsened, she needed more care than we could provide. I wanted to hire a home health care aide for her. But my mother didn’t want help.
“I’m fine. I don’t need anybody,” she would say, even though she could barely get out of bed. There was a fight to be had, but I didn’t want to have it. Her body was giving out. The medication was making it difficult for her to function, to be herself. I didn’t want to take her dignity away.
So, we muddled through. I cooked elaborate meals for her, filling the house with the smells of childhood, which reminded us both of happier times. When I wasn’t at the office, I was most often with her, telling stories, holding hands, helping her through the misery of chemotherapy. I brought her hats after she lost her hair, and soft clothes to make her as comfortable as I could.
The doctor asked me if I had heard of “anticipatory grief.” I hadn’t, but the term made perfect sense. So much of me was in denial. I couldn’t bring myself to believe that I was going to have to say goodbye. But underneath it, I was aware. And I had started grieving for my mother already.
She ended up in the hospital not long after that. That was when I started to see another change. For as long as I could remember, my mother loved to watch the news and read the newspaper. When Maya and I were kids, she’d insist we sit down in front of Walter Cronkite each night before dinner. But suddenly, she had no interest. Her mighty brain decided it had had enough.
My mother died on Feb. 11, 2009, two months after her 70th birthday. One of the last questions she asked the hospice nurse was, “Are my daughters going to be O.K.?” She was focused on being our mother until the very end.
And though I miss her every day, I carry her with me wherever I go. I think of the battles she fought, the values she taught me, her commitment to improve health care for us all. There is no title or honor on earth I’ll treasure more than to say I am Shyamala Gopalan Harris’s daughter. As I continue the battle for a better health care system, I do so in her name.
Kamala D. Harris is a Democratic senator from California and the author of the forthcoming book “The Truths We Hold: An American Journey,” from which this essay is adapted.
I have edited this essay for length, but the entire adapted essay can be read by clicking the link above.