Stand up and take a part

If you are like me you were probably getting tired of hearing the repeal and replace mantra concerning The Affordable Care Act.  I was alarmed for some of my under-resourced friends who might lose their access to Medicaid or Medicare. They would be left without resources needed to purchase health insurance with tax credits. With the recent attempt to repeal and replace in Congress of ACA, I was about to ignore much of this as more of the same gridlock in Washington.

However, when Speaker Ryan started to talk about eliminating the requirement to insure people with pre-existing conditions it changed my attitude. All of a sudden they were not just harming my friends, but me.

As many of you know, I wear a pacemaker. In the past if I were to lose a job, I faced the problem of having a pre-existing heart condition. To buy health insurance as an individual with a pre-existing condition would cost me over $1,200 per month.

The Affordable Care Act made it illegal to deny insurance coverage if you had a pre-existing condition.

In an attempt to strike a deal with the Freedom Caucus members of the House of Representatives, Speaker Ryan included the right to be denied coverage with a pre-existing condition.

This approach denies the basic premise of Principle 13 of the Earth Charter which reads: “Strengthen democratic institutions at all levels and provide transparency and accountability in governance including participation in decision making and access to justice.”

The process to arrive at such a change in the law was reached in closed door meetings. As a result, I was not able to have input on a process vital to my financial well-being.

Thankfully the bill was not passed.    

This incident reminded me of the importance of staying alert not only to protect your own self-interest, but also what is vital to others who are less able to speak or protest for their own rights.

I realized that I have no reason to expect to be protected by my Congressional representative, if I am not willing to stand up and be part of a transparent process. To strengthen democratic institutions one must take a more active part in the process. One can call one’s representative or Senator and express one’s reservations about a potential law or a provision in that law.

Taking such a relatively painless action makes one an active participant in democracy. Let me to encourage you to stand for strengthening democracy at such a vital time as now.


For our children’s children

John Drake

Andy Fry