I am a 59-year-old woman with several disabilities. Like many people with disabilities, I also have other, “normal” medical issues for a woman of my age.
In roughly the past four months, I have seen my rehabilitation physiatrist twice. I’ve seen a physical therapist six times, my urologist four times, and a neurosurgeon three times. I’ve needed x-rays. I’ve had a new seating system put in my power chair, and several visits to a wheelchair seating specialist when the new seating system exacerbated pain instead of alleviating it. I’ve needed two new pieces of “durable medical equipment.”
I thank God, literally, that I have insurance. Thinking of the cost of these last four months without it defies even my considerably large imagination. Yet thinking of the cost of life without insurance is precisely what many people in the disability community are having to do right now, thanks to the cruelty. . . No, “cruelty” is too mild a word. . . thanks to the evil of the currently proposed replacement for the Affordable Care Act.
Multiply the cost of my needs these past four months times 20, 30, 40, 50, 60 years or more. Consider that many people have substantially more severe disabilities than I do, and you might begin to fathom how terrified many of us are at the thought of losing Obamacare. Terrified because we know that many of us will no longer be able to afford the assistance which enables us to live in the community, so we will be forced back into the institutions we worked so hard and longed so much to be freed from; institutions which deny us the freedom of choice, indeed the quality of life, we cherish. Terrified because under this terrible excuse for health insurance legislation, we will no longer be able to afford medical care, and so we will die.
Multiply the last four months of my life times decades; then multiply that times the more than fifty million people in this country who have disabilities, and you get some idea of the cost of doing away with Obamacare for the disability community. “Genocide” may not be too strong a word.
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Rev. Mary Stainton of Chicago is a member of University Church (Hyde Park) living with a disability. She shares her thoughts and chronicles her life at Life In Mary’s Body.