Why Health Care Reform is Personal to Me

Posted Mar 20 2010, 2:47 pm in

I’ve kept quiet recently on my stand on health care reform, but I’ve been receiving comments about it from several people who are assuming I am against it. While I really try to refrain from political arugments, this one is really personal to me. Read on, if you want to know why and take me off your anit-health care maiiling lists. This is my letter to congress:

My mother raised two daughters on her own after my father died. I was three at the time. She never remarried.

She also had a disability. Rheumatic fever as a child left her with a weakened heart. In 1961, she had one of the first open-heart surgeries ever performed in by the University of Washington to have a valve replaced. As a result, she was never very healthy. Yet, she worked harder than most healthy people. We survived on what she earned from a small L&I survivor’s pension from my father’s death and made managing an apartment complex mostly of senior citizens.

My mother mowed almost 2 acres of lawn once or twice a week at that complex. In Eastern Washington, the temperatures often reached over 100 degrees in the summer. She didn’t care, she maintained it like a showplace. She did all the bookkeeping, rent collecting, and HUD paperwork. She watched over her “little old ladies” like a mother hen, making sure they were taken care of, often fighting Welfare so their benefits wouldn’t be cut off.

She had a social life, too. She was an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary and the 40 and 8, along with being precinct committeewoman for many years. She loved to go out to lunch with her friends.
Never once did she accept any type of public assistance. Nor did she have any health insurance coverage.
I always knew that she was living on borrowed time. Even as a child I lived in constant fear that I would lose my mother, as she was all my sister and I had left.

When I was 23 and she was 61, she wasn’t well. You could tell her heart was giving her problems. The doctor tried to encourage her to see a specialist in Spokane about 180 miles from our home. She kept putting it off. She didn’t have the money for the visit.

That July, her time ran out. She suffered a debilitating heart attack. As a result, she lived for another year as a mental vegetable and finally died in her sleep. She wasn’t even old enough to receive Social Security.
I am certain, without a doubt, if she’d had health care, she would have lived a much longer life. My mother didn’t deserve to die so soon. My sister and I had already grown up without a father, and now at a relatively young age, we were also without a mother.

Please don’t let other children lose their mothers or fathers prematurely. Vote for health care reform.

I hope you can now understand my position. I hope I’ve changed a few of your minds on why we need this.

1 Comment


One response to “Why Health Care Reform is Personal to Me”

  1. Laurie Ryan says:

    Ah, Jami. Losing a parent is tough, no matter the age. Sigh. I, too, am a believer in health care reform. I lived that life for a couple years, tossing the dice that I would stay healthy. My son tried the same thing. The premiums were just too much for his single income household. Then one day he had a seizure. And bam! Just like that he's $14,000 in debt. It took him a lot of years to pay that debt off, but he did. And it meant some significant sacrifices to do it. Had there been affordable health insurance, life would have been so much easier.
    I pray daily that Congress finds a way to pass health insurance reform. Things simply can not go on the way they have been.
    Thanks for the post, Jami. I hope you get loads of comments. This is just too important to ignore.