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(c) 2011 Christiana Lambert

I am a preexisting condition.

Look me in the face and tell me that if I have had any medical conditions in my past, you should have the right to dump my insurance coverage—or at least make me pay more–$4,000 per year, in the case of my exercise-induced asthma. This from people who might never get the health they deserve from their habits or lack of habits. They might not even exercise. While I am at yoga, Zumba, and out running, they could be sitting down on the couch with a bag of chips—but somehow I deserve to pay more?

My mom always told me life wasn’t fair, but I think she believed that most of our institutions had caring, dedicated people in them who would try to do right.

Where are they?

I don’t know, but I’ll tell you where many of the current leaders are—they’re trying to “win” a competition by passing legislation that will harm people’s finances and their everyday health—and maybe lead to their premature deaths.

These leaders are busy pandering to their base—whatever that word really means. First of all, Congress exists for all of us, not just for some “base” who voted for certain leaders. But, in a practical sense, unless this base clearly has 50% or more of our population, then these leaders are building something—healthcare, in this instance—that does not have a base that can support the weight of all those who are, what? The table top? They’ll listen to this mythical “base”—composed of people who may or may not know anything about healthcare or finances—but they won’t listen to experts from either the medical or the finance side.

And while they’re doing this, they come up with a plan to “punish” any states that chose to expand care to others—and to take away their funding and give it to states that did not provide care. So these godfathers in Congress aren’t afraid whether anyone knows that they are suggesting that anyone who disagrees with them and their base will be very, very sorry?

It’s funny, but I’ve been saying for years that part of the reason bullyproofing programs in schools have failed is because so many adults prefer to lead by bullying. You know, I have never watched reality television because I really don’t enjoy watching people play “Lord of the Flies” and ganging up to vote people off the island, and I never thought it was cool that someone could become a star for telling people they were fired.

And yet, here we are. But folks, what’s happening in Congress is not entertainment—and it isn’t entertaining. Unless, I guess, if you’re part of that base.

What all those leaders and the “fans” from their base don’t seem to get is that WE ARE NOT IN CONTROL. Yes, I’m shouting. Bad things happen, and yet we keep getting told that we need to take personal responsibility for those actions and stop thinking someone should take care of us.

Folks—we’re all one doctor’s test or what some would call “act of God” (think floods, hurricanes, fires, etc.) away from personal disaster. Unless . . . unless we set up a society that doesn’t see tragedy as something that has been set upon particular people as something they deserve while also believing that good health and prosperity also happen as something people deserve or have earned. I don’t really believe that my God’s up there throwing lightning bolts—or those floods, hurricanes, and fires—at us based on our actions—sometimes stuff happens and it’s nobody’s fault.

I’ll say it again: Bad things happen. And often the costs associated with those events are more than an individual can pay.

That’s why we come together as a society to help one another. That’s also why being in Congress is called serving for a reason. Being elected to such a role is supposed to be about more than doing whatever it takes to prove your team is winning—no matter the costs.

These leaders are just living in blind ignorance that one day that doctor’s test isn’t going to tell them health news they don’t want to hear—even if it’s a treatable condition, but something an insurer was allowed to opt out of covering. They think that a catastrophic accident will never happen to them. They don’t think it will be their kid who is born with a heart condition or who suffers from a mental illness. In fact, some of them don’t know that some woman or girl they love might be punished for the preexisting condition of being female.

Our leaders are supposed to be champions for all of us, not just for their supporters. They are supposed to do the deep studying and reading that might help them to come up with solutions to resolve big problems. Quite frankly, they’re not supposed to crumble when a bully calls them up to tell them their team needs a “win.” And, if that voice is wrong for the many of us who may or may not come from their team, they’re supposed to stand up to any forces that would pressure them to do less than what is best for the rest of us.

I am a preexisting condition and, quite frankly, most of you are also. We can’t let people who have lifetime healthcare coverage make a game out of toying with our lives. The odds of winning this game are close to nonexistent for those of us who are just pawns in this game we didn’t choose to join.


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