On July 29, 2016, one week after my 41st birthday, with no warning, I experienced a Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection. SCAD is an uncommon heart condition that causes arteries in the heart to tear, leading to a blockage of the artery, and, in my case, a heart attack.  I HAVE NO KNOWN RISK FACTORS FOR HEART DISEASE.  

I am a mother of two young children.  I am basically a really healthy person.  I’ve never smoked, don’t really drink, I’m a vegetarian, I lead an active life, I have perfect cholesterol and blood pressure, I eat pretty mindfully.  This condition affects mostly women, between ages 30 and 50, most of whom have no risk factors.  There are no preventable triggers, no known treatments and no way to predict if and when there will be another dissection.  

I now have 2 stents in my Left Anterior Descending Artery, “the widow maker, ” and several daily medications that keep me alive.  I went from healthy to nearly losing my life within moments.  There was nothing that I did or could have done, to cause or prevent this event.  It strikes out of the blue.  I live each moment in terror that it will happen again. 

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I am only one story, and I am not by any means the most tragic, or horrible.  I’m a cautionary tale about why affordable, comprehensive health care is necessary and why this catastrophic bill MUST BE STOPPED.

Can you recall a time when you were learning about a terrible historical event and you think to yourself, “What would I have done if I were alive then?  Could I have done something to prevent that event from happening?  Would I see the signs, and be brave enough to do something about it?  We are at that moment in history. 

Next week the US Senate will vote on the Graham Cassidy Healthcare Bill which would overturn the Affordable Care Act.  It is important to note here that partisan political rivalry clouds this issue.  For the time being, I ask that you put party aside, and just think about the human impact, rather than political advantage.  This bill is potentially one of those events that people will read about in 50 or 100 years and think, “What would I have done to stop that?” We are the people who are now responsible for what comes next.  

All 50 Medicaid Directors, the American Medical Association, AARP, American Academy of Pediatrics, Nurses, and many more groups are ALL OPPOSED to this bill.  We need to act.

Please, call your representatives.  When you call 202.224.3121 you can enter your zip code and they will send you to your representative's offices.  If you have connections with people in states with representatives who support this bill, urge them to call.  Call your reps who oppose this bill and thank them.  They are working so hard on your behalf, they need the stories of support to make their case.  

This bill will end Medicaid as we know it.  Millions could lose health care coverage.  It will penalize people who are old, have disabilities and who have pre-existing conditions.  It will allow insurance companies to choose who they will cover, and for what treatment.  Premiums will skyrocket.  There will be no standard for what is covered by policies.  Maternity care, prescriptions, and mental health services will demand steep premiums.  People will lose coverage.   People will go bankrupt all because they need medical attention.  The new changes will apply to employer-based insurance as well.  Every person in this country will be impacted by this bill.  Yes, even you. This is a national humanitarian crisis.  People will die who do not need to die.

I must have access to comprehensive health insurance for the rest of my life.  This condition could lead to my permanent disability and a need for Medicaid in the future.  If this bill passes, this could mean financial ruin for my family or even my death.  

I never understood how close to death we all are.  We live heartbeat to heartbeat.  We can’t know when we will need urgent care, even if we have done everything right. 

This bill could mean financial ruin for millions.  Since the Affordable Care Act passed personal bankruptcy has dropped by 50%.  Why?  Because people don’t have to go bankrupt for getting life-saving medical treatments.  

As a person of faith, a Quaker,  I can no longer stay alone in my home and simply contemplate this terrifying historic moment we find ourselves in.  It keeps me awake at night.  And I realize that we are at a moment of opportunity.  Our country is being faced with a moment so profoundly wrong, that I have no choice but to crystallize my beliefs and fight for them.   Now is the time that we need to put a human face, a story, on the consequences of this bill.  Our Representatives to Congress and the Senate need to hear from us.  We the people have power in our numbers.  We the people need to tell our lawmakers that access to affordable, comprehensive health care is a human right.  We need to show our children and grandchildren and other generations that we put their lives ahead of partisan political gain.

Soon we will find out what we will be known for.  Will it be punishing the sick, old, poor, and disabled? Or will we be known as the people who spoke truth to power and stopped what could be a horrific moment in History?