Open Letter to Congress about AHCA/BCRA, healthcare in the U.S., and just what in the hell are you doing there, anyway?


Since the beginning of this year, I’ve had the opportunity to see town hall meetings. Most of are about the current healthcare debate. Some start out as on a different topic, like vet benefits, and veer inevitably into healthcare. Some are broadcast or reported online, with video or audio. Clips of others appear on the news.* In every single one, I’ve seen people bring their personal stories to their representatives. This is what happened to me, they say. And it’s not fixed, or phony, or rare. People tell about their kids, their siblings, their parents, their own struggles with illness or injury and the healthcare system. In some cases, they pull out their IDs to prove that they do indeed live in the constituency.

The latest one I heard was on the radio today, as I drove home from a volunteer archives gig and the library. The station played an excerpt from a town hall meeting in Dallas with Senator Ted Cruz. A woman spoke about her personal experience as a psychologist — she provided mental healthcare to veterans, and expressed her opinion that Obamacare/the Affordable Care Act was working for them. Cruz responded, and at one point stated that Obamacare was “a manifest disaster.”

My state’s reps and senators do not support the replace-repeal garbage bill, also known as the AHCA, also known as the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA), that Senator Mitch McConnell is currently trying to get passed. So this letter is to the rest of you.

Here’s something new and exciting: I am not going to tell you a personal story.

I can hear you all breathe a sigh of relief. Hot damn, you think. I was really nervous that this would be the one. The final personal story that slid in between the cracks of my cherished Roman legionnaire’s senator’s breastplate toga. Who knows why this one worked — perhaps this person reminded me of a family member. Or perhaps it was just the repeated assault, the relentless wave of those exhausting requests for empathy. Thank god this won’t be part of that.

If you want to know my personal stories anyway, you can read this blog. Try the “baby stuff” or “kid stuff” tags. I’m sure you’ve got time to do that, now that you’re on your July recess. Eat a hotdog, drink a beer, read a couple thousand depressing blog entries. But I’m not going to tell you about me, or my son. Because when I look at what you’re doing, I see that my personal story doesn’t matter. Even though everyone in this country will get sick and die, or be injured and die, you’re not taking those stories into account. In response to stories directly linking Obamacare to survival, to keeping bank accounts and mortgages, to personhood, you come back to the same lines:

Obamacare is a failure.

Obamacare is a disaster.

Obamacare is not working.

I hear you. You’re telling us that Obamacare/the Affordable Care Act is garbage, broken, and can’t be fixed. So I hereby drop my personal story of how it has helped me and my child, how it has helped to keep a roof over our head and food on our table, how it has kept my marriage intact as my husband and I dealt with the stresses of our new life. Forget all that. Instead, you can tell me why.

That’s easy, right? Why? Why is Obamacare a failure, a disaster, not working? Or is that too broad? Because it encourages you to say, BECAUSE. Or BECAUSE IT SUCKS FUNDAMENTALLY. Or on a more civil note, I have constituents, ma’am, of which you are NOT one, I might add, and they all have personal stories to bolster my claims! But we’re not using personal stories, are we? Nope. Let’s make that question a little more specific. I think I can do that, if I break it into two parts.

  1. What, specifically, are the failing parts of Obamacare? The parts that are malfunctioning, so to speak? Please identify them. Note: IT’S ALL CRAP AND JUST PLAIN WRONGHEADED AND BTW A DISASTER DID I SAY DISASTER DISASTER DISASTER is not a feasible answer, as that’s based on personal stories versus other personal stories rather than actual stats and data. I know there is data out there. How about we talk to the CBO? Healthcare providers? Let’s discuss it, and use all that data to tell us which parts are not working, and which parts are.
  2. How, specifically, are you unable to address the problematic parts with amendments (or as we rubes like to call it, changes to the law) or proper funding?

I don’t believe you can answer these questions. For whatever reason, you’re personally offended by this law, and you don’t want it to work. Why else would you not be doing your jobs? (See #2 above.) Did Obamacare/the Affordable Care Act wreak havoc on your lives when you had to purchase through the DC exchange? Did you lose your doctor? Was it tough to calculate those pre-tax premiums, or figure out how to sign up for that whole Office of the Attending Physician thing? Did your kid have to pay a penalty?

Will you tell me your personal story?

Nah. Let’s just stick with those two questions. If you can answer them with something other than “Let’s face it, Obamacare is blah blah so bad blah blah disaster blah blah where’s that party line memo again? Maybe the President will tweet something distractingly foolish! Again!” Well, at most, you’d show that you give a damn about the state of healthcare in this country, and the rights of humans to be treated as humans instead of  diseases or disabilities. At least, you’d show that you’re qualified to work in the United States Congress.

Thanks for your time. I hope you can answer these questions before you attempt, again, to pass this trashfire of a bill.




* I watch the PBS Newshour, when I can handle the onslaught of the latest events. If you want real news** (although you’ll have to acclimate to the real sadness of no more Gwen Ifill, nightly), it is the place to go. One broadcast a day, for the day. None of the exhausting 24-hour trackertape parade. You can watch online, too: PBS Newshour website. 

** If you think this gives you leave to whine here about LIBERAL MEDIA and PBS IS PROPAGANDA or some other ignorant horseshit, it doesn’t. Byeeeeee.


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