The Zero Hour on Health Care

I’m holed up in my room at the Land of Medicine Buddha. It’s the long afternoon break between the morning session of the Memory to Memoir retreat and dinner time. There are a fabulous group of women here with me, ready and willing to dig deep for the truth in their writing. I’m moved by their stories, but vastly distracted. I spent much of the afternoon, not getting a massage, not hiking, not writing personal stories, but watching the C-SPAN coverage of the health insurance debate.

Tomorrow is the day. Tomorrow is the vote. And for me this vote isn’t about someone else’s health coverage. It’s about mine.

Karyn is retiring as a school teacher this spring. The kids and I have had good coverage through the Pajaro School District, coverage that got me through my cancer and paid almost all of the bills. Having health coverage when grappling with chemotherapy, nausea, cancer and the chance of death made a huge difference. There was a safety net beneath us. We did not have to choose, as Natoma Canfield of Ohio did, between health insurance and our house.

For the past two months, I have been happy for Karyn that she will be able to put her teaching years behind her after a full and devoted career, but I have been scared. Because she is eligible for Medicare, the kids and I will be losing our health insurance. I have been scared about coming up with another $1700 a month to pay for Cobra. I have been scared about whether a private insurer would accept me, with my cancer history, and at what cost.

And all the while I have been quietly and not so quietly freaking out, the Democrats have been fumbling with their very imperfect health care bill. Was I disappointed in the bill? Yes. Is it what I wanted and hoped for? No. But it means that people like me will have options, that I will not be rejected because I have been sick. “Just do it,” I’ve been saying to anyone who would listen (my representatives included). “It’s not everything, but it’s a start. Just do it.”

And now I am sitting on tenderhooks, out here in the woods of Soquel, waiting to see if history will be made tomorrow. I certainly hope so.

Here’s where I’m following the coverage.


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