On May 4th, 2017, Representative Darrell Issa (R, CA-49) voted to take away healthcare from my son with Type 1 diabetes.
In 2006, my son was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. At the time, my husband had insurance through his job, so we were covered. But when he became an independent contractor, we lost coverage. We tried to get insurance elsewhere, but there was always one caveat: my son had diabetes, a pre-existing condition. As a result, my then-six-year-old son was denied the right to healthcare. Even though we could afford insurance, he was denied it because he needed it.
When the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was passed in 2010, insurers could no longer discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions and dependents could remain on their parents’ health insurance until age 26. Suddenly, my son’s future became freer: his education, his career, and his life would not be dictated by his access to healthcare.
A lot of people think that the ACA is a government handout. I promise you, it’s not. People work sixty-hour-a-week jobs just to pay into a system to qualify for insurance. When you have a child with a disease like Type 1 diabetes, paying insurance is just the first hurdle. Once you clear that, you still have a lifetime of recurring hurdles where you have to pay for the supplies, the medications, and the treatment. People with pre-existing conditions need insurance. The ACA ensures they have access to it.
So when Congressman Issa voted to repeal the ACA and replace it with the American Health Care Act (AHCA), he put my son’s entire future at risk. The AHCA would have let insurers deny coverage for people with pre-existing conditions, forcing my son to find a full time job immediately upon graduating college. For the rest of his life, his career choices would depend solely on company health benefits. He could never be an independent contractor like he had watched his dad become.
Mothers obviously want the best for their children’s future. My son is approaching his final years in college, and he’s about to be on his own with a disease that will last his entire life. He will need doctors appointments, daily blood draws, medications, treatments, and supplies his entire life. If politicians like Issa ever successfully repeal the Affordable Care Act, my son will face a stark question on his 26th birthday: what now?
A month after his vote, Darrell Issa finally emerged to face his constituents at a town hall. In an attempt to defend his vote, he said, “because we are getting rid of the personal mandate…if you choose the freedom to not be insured…hopefully you don’t get a condition”. His words reflect how little he had thought about those who need health insurance for its primary purpose: healthcare.
Repeatedly, he tried to argue that, out of the 24 million Americans who would lose health insurance, more than half of them would be by choice. He neglected those in the other half, whose choice to have health insurance would be stripped from them. He neglected those in the other half who literally depend on health insurance to live.
On this anniversary of the House’s repeal of the Affordable Care Act, I remember that my representative could have voted with my son’s life in mind, and he chose not to.
Nikki Faddick lives with her family in Carlsbad, CA.