Tuesday, September 19, 2017

An Open Letter To My Senators About Graham-Cassidy

By Devon Malloy

From a Cancer group I belong too.....thought it needed to be shared! 

Senator Toomey and Senator Casey, I was eighteen years old when I was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. I was a senior in high school, I was a varsity athlete and a straight-A student. I had no prior medical problems. But when my lung spontaneously collapsed, my doctors found synovial sarcoma. I was lucky in more way than one. They found my cancer early, and before it had spread. I was also lucky to be upper-middle class, and that my parents had good insurance. I went through three surgeries and seven weeks of proton radiation treatments. The bills sent to my insurance company totaled close to one million dollars. This is not meant to be a pity story—this is a fact that I live with. I will get cancer again in my lifetime, but I haven’t done anything to increase this risk. I will start mammograms early, because radiation treatment has also increased my risk of breast cancer. I take every precaution necessary to catch my next bout with cancer early, including never smoking, and visiting my oncologist for frequent CT-scans. But the fact is, I will get cancer again. My reason for sharing my story is this: very little of these things were in my control. My cancer was not lifestyle induced. I did nothing to earn my spot in the upper-middle class, nor to “deserve” good insurance coverage. I am lucky enough to be on my parents’ insurance until the age of 26 because of the Affordable Care Act. But what happens when I turn 26? Under the regulations that the Graham-Cassidy bill is proposing, my preexisting condition could cost me significantly more than someone else who is “healthier-than-I.” I’ll admit it—I am a risk to insurers. But does that mean that I deserve to pay more for health insurance, or be denied coverage because of my preexisting condition? Supporting this bill will be putting my life and well-being at risk, but I am just one person. I am privileged. I am a white, middle-class American pursing a college education. What about the thousands of other Americans who aren’t so lucky? The list of high-risk diseases spreads further and wider than just cancer. This discussion isn’t a matter of what role the government should play in our healthcare; it is a matter of human decency. Everyone deserves to have access to the medical help they need, no matter their preexisting condition or social class. Have some compassion, and do what is right for your constituents. 

With the utmost respect, 

Devon Malloy Gap, PA

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