The Los Angeles times ran a rather refreshing op-ed on Tuesday regarding the virtues of Obama’s health care reform efforts, despite its sad context. The author, Spike Dolomite Ward, is a 49-year old married mother of two kids. She writes: “We’re good people, and we work hard. But we haven’t been able to afford health insurance for more than two years.”
“And now I have third-stage breast cancer and am facing months of expensive treatment.”
According to her article, Ward’s husband had been laid off and has since started a small computer business in California, while she manages a small non-profit.
“Money is tight, and we don’t spend it frivolously,” she writes. “We’re just ordinary, middle-class people, making an honest living, raising great kids and participating in our community, the kids’ schools and church.”
Two parents, homeowners, both with full-time jobs, raising a family in the worst economy in decades. A far-cry from what many opponents of Obama’s “Affordable Care Act” have willfully mislabeled as potential “exploiters” of “government-run healthcare” looking for a free handout.
Due largely to the Right’s purposeful, misinformation-machine, many like Ward have been led to believe since the 2008 election that the Affordable Care Act was bad for people just like her, as well as the vast majority of Americans.
“With the recession, both of our businesses took a huge hit – my husband’s income was cut in half, and the foundations that had supported my small nonprofit were going through their own tough times. We had to start using a home equity line of credit to pay for our health insurance premiums (which by that point cost as much as our monthly mortgage). When the bank capped our home equity line, we were forced to cash in my husband’s IRA. The time finally came when we had to make a choice between paying our mortgage or paying for health insurance. We chose to keep our house. We made a nerve-racking gamble, and we lost.”
Ward’s story is reminiscent of far too many Americans who are risking their livelihoods and the security of their families’ futures by having to make these types of decisions – decisions that would not have to be made in the first place had the governmental/financial machine acted more responsibly in the first place.
She warns, profoundly, that regardless of how safe you may think you are – financially, health-wise, productively – everything can change.
“If you are fortunate enough to still be employed and have insurance through your employers, you may feel insulated from the sufferings of people like me right now. But things can change abruptly. If you still have a good job with insurance, that doesn’t mean that you’re better than me, more deserving than me or smarter than me. It just means that you are luckier. And access to healthcare shouldn’t depend on luck.”
Luckily, Ward and her family will not be facing the coming future and her battle with cancer alone, as she says that she has been “saved by the federal government’s Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan” – an inclusion in the now infamous “Obamacare” that guarantees access to insurance for U.S. citizens with preexisting conditions who have been uninsured for at least six months.
According to Ward, the application process was easy, affordable and compassionate – three aspects not normally related to health insurance agencies.
“Which brings me to my apology. I was pretty mad at Obama before I learned about this new insurance plan. I had changed my registration from Democrat to Independent, and I had blacked out the top of the “h” on my Obama bumper sticker, so that it read, ‘Got nope’ instead of ‘got hope.’ I felt like he had let down the struggling middle class. My son and I had campaigned for him, but since he took office, we felt he had let us down.
“So this is my public apology. I’m sorry I didn’t do enough of my own research to find out what promises the president has made good on. I’m sorry I didn’t realize that he really has stood up for me and my family, and for so many others like us. I’m getting a new bumper sticker to cover the one that says ‘Got nope.’ It will say ‘ObamaCares.’”
As founder and executive director of the Arts in Education Aid Council, Spike Dolomite Ward dedicates her time and energies to restoring the arts to public schools in the San Fernando Valley.
I wish all the best for her future success, her health and her family.
- Joe Ascanio
Based out of Greater New York, Joe Ascanio is a full time web designer, developer and marketing guy working in the online technology marketplace. OneWhiteDuck.com is a semi-personal blog devoted to opinionated rantings over current events, politics and pop culture as they relate to our modern-day society.