I have written multiple iterations of this column trying to keep pace with the disastrous healthcare bills being presented first in the U.S. House of Representatives and now the Senate.
But I can’t keep up with them. There are just too many and they come too fast.
Each proposal to repeal and replace the Affordable Healthcare Act (ACA) has been met with public disdain in no small part because each would force up to an estimated 32 million people from government-supported healthcare insurance coverage over the next decade.
Ever since President Donald Trump was elected, Republicans have been racing to repeal and replace the ACA, legislation that protects tens of millions of U.S. citizens from unforeseen and often unavoidable medical challenges and the financial ruin that typically accompanies them. Worse, besides including policies that would cripple many people and families — especially those at or near the poverty line — many of the replacement bills include huge tax benefits for the wealthiest citizens in the U.S.
For those with MS and other chronic illnesses, the bills presented by Republicans, who currently control both the U.S. House and Senate, are especially scary because they would make affordable and useful healthcare practically impossible for people with pre-existing conditions.
I’ve never called an elected official before. But not too long ago I called Sen. Todd Young’s office, a conservative Republican and one of our state’s two senators, to ask him to please put country over party and vote against these bills.
I’d read that sending an email to elected officials is not the most effective way of getting their attention and sharing one’s point of view. A well-written, civil letter is better, followed by a phone call and finally, scheduling a personal visit.
Here is a step-by-step approach that might help if you decide to call your elected officials, too:
Find out who your elected officials are (along with their contact information) here.
Prepare concise talking points in advance. (I was afraid I’d ramble incoherently if I didn’t.) More tips about what to say may be found here.
My goal was to bring the issue to life for Sen. Young so that he might recognize his decisions affected real people (who vote). These are the talking points I used:
- I’ve been a tax contributor for 45 years and a voter since 1978. (I’ve written for, and to, affluent political types and know that key phrases — like “tax contributor versus tax consumer” — resonate with them.)
- I have MS, an incurable, debilitating disease without an understood cause. More than 8,200 people in Indiana have the same incurable illness. (Your local chapter of the National MS Society can provide that information if you don’t have it already.)
- The annual cost of my MS medications exceeds $90,000, well over the state’s median household income. (Indiana’s median household income was less than $50,000 in 2015. Find your state’s stats here.)
- Pre-existing condition loopholes written into the new healthcare plans could make healthcare insurance prohibitively expensive for my wife and me if she lost her job (and the healthcare insurance that comes with it), forcing us to choose between paying for my medicine or keeping our home or eating, and likely leading us into poverty as senior citizens.
- Our taxes pay government employees’ wages and we will hold them accountable for their actions.
- Happy to talk on the phone or (gulp) meet in person.
Remember to be civil.
Call your senators first. (The Senate is currently crafting the bill which, if approved, will likely be sent back to the House for further amendment, then to a review committee if needed before President Trump signs it into law.)
Make the call. Now. Chances are you’ll get an automated telephone attendant that directs you to a voicemail box and the option to record a message. Avoid making any sort of threat, perceived or otherwise.
Don’t leave anything to chance; don’t just call Republicans — call Democrats, too, and keep calling. (I’ve written recently about Pilates and voice-to-text technology only being as beneficial to me as the effort I put into them. The same can be said about democracy and our country’s government.)
Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.