2:42 PM / Wednesday March 22, 2023

4 Jul 2012

The Real America

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July 4, 2012 Category: Commentary Posted by:

ABOVE PHOTO: Edwin Wimes waits to see a doctor at Camillus Health Concern, Wednesday, June 27, 2012, in Miami. Camillus is a private, non-profit organization that provides health care to the homeless and poor in Miami-Dade County. 

(AP Photo/Lynne Sladky) 



By it’s 5-4 ruling in favor of President Barack Obama’s healthcare plan, the Supreme Court said that America shouldn’t be a place where one can die of an infection due to lack of insurance.


By Denise Clay


Because I’m a reporter, I tend not to take an opinion one way or the other on any piece of legislation that comes out of Our Nation’s Capital.


Sure, I may think that something is a good idea, or that it’s just plain silly, but I try and keep my opinions to myself unless I’m asked to share them with a group of friends or in a prescribed space.


But I kind of knew that I was going to wind up writing a piece on the Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling upholding the individual mandate of President Barack Obama’s Affordable Health Insurance plan.


(By the way, can we stop calling it “Obamacare”? That’s not the proper name for it, that’s just the name that a bunch of really lazy television reporters came up with.)




I guess it’s because, as they say in trailers for revenge movies, this time, it’s personal. I’ll get into why that is in a moment.


On Thursday morning, I kept getting alerts on my phone from various places telling me that the decision to keep the individual mandate came down. Chief Justice John Roberts, a dude that I never thought would side with the majority on this, said that while you can’t mandate something like this as part of the Commerce Clause, you can say that the penalty for not getting health insurance is a tax…and as such you will pay it if not getting it is what you choose to do.


Folks of course started screaming “It’s a tax on the middle class!”, but if you get health insurance, it’s a tax you don’t have to pay.


I have been watching the debate over the Affordable Health Care act from the moment that it started in 2009.


I saw Rep. John Boehner bang on the podium and turn bright orange in the face as he condemned the bill. I saw people protesting in front of Congress with signs, effigies, and even the occasional shotgun. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen Rush Limbaugh make good on his threat to pack up and move to Costa Rica as a result of the bill’s passage, but I can’t have everything.


And I’ve kept my eye on what has happened with the bill since. While there’s a lot that I don’t like about it, like the lack of a public option and the fact that many of its provisions don’t take effect until next year or the year after, the fact that it will give folks like me the chance to get what we need to maintain our health is enough to be in favor of it.


Like I said, this is personal.


You see, I spent 39 days in the hospital for an infection. I’m a diabetic and my foot got infected when I injured it. It swelled to twice its normal size, It eventually blistered, and by the time I got to the hospital, I got hit with the news that if I hadn’t come in when I did, I probably would have died.




Of an infection.


In a country that arguably has some of the best health care in the world.


Anyone else think that’s just plain crazy?


But that’s the reality for anyone who doesn’t have health insurance, which I don’t. As a freelance writer, you’re kind of expected to pick up the tab for stuff like that yourself.


However, it’s kind of hard to do that when you call insurance companies, and get hung up on the minute that the words “I’m a diabetic” come out of your mouth. Now that the bill has been upheld, maybe now we can get this whole “pre-existing conditions” discrimination thing under control.


Two surgeries, a lot of antibiotics, some serious painkillers (Don’t try to edit on dilaudid. I’m just sayin’…) and a whole lot of do-it-yourself physical therapy due to the aforementioned lack of health insurance later, I’m back on my feet.


But let’s get back to what this decision means from a perspective of what we’ve all been taught to expect from America.


While this is a country founded on rugged individualism on some level, we’ve also been taught that it’s “We” the people, not “Me” the people.


Like I mentioned before, I almost died of my infection. Kyle Willis of Cincinnati wasn’t so lucky. In 2011, his tooth got infected. Because he was unemployed and didn’t have insurance, he couldn’t afford treatment for an infected tooth.


The infection spread to his brain.


At 24, he was dead.


I started to ask myself what kind of country allows someone to die of an infection.


With this decision, the Supreme Court said “Not ours”…


And for that, I, and others like me, are grateful…

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