Every few days or so I receive an e-mail from the Obama Administration. They put me on their mailing list after I registered to vote via one of their campaign drives. Most of the e-mails ask recipients to donate money for some cause or another, which I’m not exactly in the position to do. Today’s e-mail didn’t ask for donations (right away), it asked simply for a signature and a story.
The chance to finally reform our nation’s health care system is here. While Congress moves rapidly to produce a detailed plan, I have made it clear that real reform must uphold three core principles — it must reduce costs, guarantee choice, and ensure quality care for every American.
As we know, challenging the status quo will not be easy. Its defenders will claim our goals are too big, that we should once again settle for half measures and empty talk. Left unanswered, these voices of doubt might yet again derail the comprehensive reform we so badly need. That’s where you come in.
When our opponents spread fear and confusion about the changes we seek, your support for these core principles will show clarity and resolve. When the lobbyists for the status quo tell Congress to hold back, your personal story will give them the courage to press forward.
So share my personal story I did, and boy oh boy was it cathartic! Everyone loves to vent, but venting is so much more fun when there’s the (extremely) off chance that the President of the United States might read your ramblings:
I will be personally reviewing many of these signatures and stories. If you speak up now, your voice will make a difference.
Perhaps Barack, over a cigarette one of these nights, will read my rant. It ended up having a sort of middle school essay competition feel to it, but gosh darnit I don’t care. I meant nearly every word:
I’ve been out of college for one year. One month after I graduated, as is the case with many, I was no longer eligible to be a benefactor of my parent’s health insurance. Today I attended my friends’ college graduation ceremony. There were inspirational words imparted, hollers of celebration, but sobering the atmosphere were the harsh economic realities each speaker acknowledged the graduates would face. And despite having a one year headstart of sorts on this year’s graduates, I couldn’t help feeling that my own career and financial situation is no better off. It’s not only been one year since I graduated, with high honors, from college–it’s been one year since I had my teeth cleaned; one year since visiting my doctor; one year with no pap smear or professional breast exam from my gynecologist.
I remember the day last year when I called my doctor’s office to cancel an upcoming appointment. It had been scheduled before my insurance ran out, but because the day of that appointment was less than a year since my previous one, I would have had to pay, regardless. I explained this to the receptionist who asked me when I wanted to reschedule the appointment for. But I’ve yet to reschedule that appointment. She asked, “What will you do?” And one year later, I still don’t know the answer.
It’s not as though I’m not working, not striving, not trying my hardest each and every day to build a strong future for myself. The summer after I graduated I interned at the Library of Congress. I was, for three months, an employee of the United States Government, and I’ve never felt so inspired.
When I finished the internship, though, the realities of the job market became clear. It took me months to secure the position I now hold. And while I’m lucky to be working, I’m also lucky if, after paying my rent, I can afford a few groceries–never mind a few prescriptions or a few cosign payments.
Still, I feel fortunate. My story is similar to countless recent college graduates and will be the story of ones to come. But my story doesn’t include battling a life-threatening illness or a condition that requires constant treatment. I’ve felt healthy this past year. But should something happen…I don’t know what I’ll do. And I have no way of knowing, despite feeling healthy, that I actually am healthy.
The speaker at the graduation ceremony I went to today was this guy. Yeah. The Permanent Representative of Chile to the United Nations. And while he was wildly interesting with stories about coups de tat, strapping dynomite to his chest, and dinner parties at Barbara Walters’ house…I couldn’t help thinking, doesn’t Heraldo Muñoz have something much more important to do?