Thursday June 28th 2012 was a historic day because the Supreme Court ruled in favor of The Affordable Care Act or "Obamacare" in a 5-4 decision with the more conservative justice, John Roberts, acting as the swing vote. Thank you Justice Roberts! What this will translate into is that at least 30 million uninsured people will now have access to health insurance coverage in 2014. 30 Million!! For my brother and me this means that our health insurance costs will drop dramatically because our income level is very low. Right now we're paying over half of our income each year on health care coverage and we need that coverage because my brother has diabetes and I suffer from schizophrenia and we need our medications each month. So far we have been able to pay a great deal to be covered, but in the long run without Universal Healthcare we might not have been able to afford to do that and pay for daily expenses and taxes. So this decision was a very important one for us. And so, too, is it so important for the now uninsured. If people have access to health insurance, it means that they will have access to preventative medicine, which hopefully will translate into a reduced need for emergency care. As it stands, emergency rooms across the country are overburdened with uninsured people and emergency care is expensive.
Universal health care will require those who can afford health insurance to get it regardless of whether they are sick or not. If we didn't have this requirement we couldn't afford to have Universal health care. Those that can, will be required to help those that can't. In my mind, this is a matter of human decency, but many of those who will be required to pay into the system deeply resent it. I talked briefly with my friend Richard about the Supreme Court's decision. He doesn't admit to being affiliated with either party, but many of his attitudes are distinctly Republican. His stance is he doesn't want to have to pay for some welfare mothers who choose to have 4 or 5 children to have healthcare for themselves and their large families. In his view, they have acted irresponsibly and, in effect, should be punished for that. In my view, the children especially are blameless and should be covered, but then I also believe that ALL people in this country should have access to healthcare regardless of their life choices. It should be a right and not a privilege as it is in most industrialized modern countries in the world. It's shameful how we have lagged behind them, which is why this Supreme Court decision has made me proud to be American. That Justice Roberts could cross the divide and vote in opposition to the other conservative justices is what this country is all about, checks and balances. As it stands if things go too far left, the right will enter into the picture and pull things back to the middle and if things go too far right, the left will do the same. It's the moderate position that allows for differing viewpoints, but in the long run serves the majority of American citizens, that creates a balanced view of justice.
I also talked briefly with my friend Sam about the healthcare decision. She is definitely poor and just recently, at age 59, applied for Medicaid. Her response was cautious. She was afraid that she might be required to pay for health insurance if her Medicaid application gets rejected. She was also saying that there has to be an infrastructure to switch from the old system to the new system and if that isn't in place by 2014, people such as herself could suffer. I told her that I believe that her income is low enough that she wouldn't be one of the ones required to pay very much. As to the infrastructure, I believe that since the Obama administration's health care bill was passed that there has been a move in the states towards building an infrastructure for the change over to occur. And now there is the full go ahead for the next year and a half and I'm hopeful that a lot can be done in that time to allow for a successful crossover. Still, I thought Sam's response was interesting because that is what a lot of people are probably asking right now--how much will we who can afford healthcare be required to pay each year? I can't answer that question because there is such a wide range of incomes in this country, but I know it will mean that the wealthy will have to pay their fair share whether they like it or not. One thing Sam did say and that was that she didn't feel sorry for "those poor, poor rich people" and, honestly, neither do I.
The strange thing to me is that it's not just many rich Republicans who are vehemently against this health care law, but many poor, rural Republicans, too. They don't like our present president, some for the bogus reason that he is an African American, and others because they don't like big government overseeing their lives. I guess some of them have that old fashioned self-reliant frontiersman attitude and look with horror at taking public assistance. I know Sam has some of that spirit in herself and will only take so much and only because she absolutely has to. There was a time during the Great Depression of the 1930s that to be poor and to ask for help from the country was not a shameful thing, but now it appears that it's back to having a kind of shameful attitude about the needy, even coming from the needy themselves. Maybe that will change when universal healthcare coverage goes into effect in 2014.
I know from having a serious mental illness that it is quite important to reach out for help when you need it and not try to deal with it all alone, but, I, too resisted. Maybe it's human nature to try and cope alone and not be a burden to others. If it hadn't been for my voices nearly forcing me to get individual therapy and go to what support groups were available in the area, forcing me to check myself into a local hospital over night in order to get a diagnoses by a psychiatrist and access to (incredibly expensive!) medication, I don't know if I would have survived the acute stage of this illness. In addition to that, my family totally supported me financially so that I had a home and money to pay my monthly bills and taxes, which is something that most people don't get from their families to the point where mentally ill family members become homeless (and often dually addicted to boot) and without access to the medications that some of them really need.
The healthcare system that we have right now is not adequate and so health care reform is a necessity. Let's see how successful this new system is in the early years from 2014 onward. If it is not successful, it might be the right's turn to offer an alternative. In any case, something must be done and will be done thanks to the Supreme Court's ruling.
A Recovery Blog
This blog is about my continuing recovery from severe mental illness. I celebrate this recovery by continuing to write, by sharing my music and artwork and by exploring Buddhist ideas and concepts. I claim that the yin/yang symbol is representative of all of us because I have found that even in the midst of acute psychosis there is still sense, method and even a kind of balance. We are more resilient than we think. We can cross beyond the edge of the sane world and return to tell the tale. A deeper kind of balance takes hold when we get honest, when we reach out for help, when we tell our stories.