October 15th, 2009

The Senate Finance Committee finally took a vote on health care reform on Tuesday.  Thanks to an unexpected yes from Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME), the committee voted 14 to 9 in favor of the legislation, which aims to provide health insurance to more Americans by expanding Medicaid, provide tax credits to help low- and middle-income people buy coverage, and creates health insurance exchanges for individuals and small businesses. It also would require employers that don’t offer coverage to help pay for employees’ government-subsidized coverage.

As reported in Wednesday’s New York Times, “Snowe’s remarks silenced the packed committee room, riveted colleagues and thrilled the White House.”

If passed, this Health Care Reform legislation will bring a sigh of relief and take a pound of heavy bricks off the shoulders of children and adults suffering from pre-existing conditions.

I am one of those people.  I have had Type 1 Diabetes since I was seven and have endured the disease’s daily burdens for sixteen years.  My college graduation in May was very scary for me, because I knew I could no longer depend on my dad’s insurance plan.  When I added up the costs of one month’s worth of medication, I nearly fainted.  I felt enraged and overwhelmingly helpless.

Having President Obama in the White House brought me some hope in the lifelong battle I have had and will continue to have not only with diabetes but also with insurance companies.  President Obama’s intent to make healthcare available to everyone and ensure that all pre-existing conditions be covered was the first time I felt some relief.  I have tangible hope that my fellow diabetes sufferers and I will have some relief from the daily worries and hassles of the disease.  Change really can happen and it could even happen during my lifetime.

I hope you will continue to engage in our national discussion about healthcare.  Our lives – and the lives of our family, friends and neighbors – depend on it.

Posted by Patience Kleber