Like most of you living with a chronic illness, the dark cloud of the possibility of health insurance being revoked, is hanging over your head as we step into the new year. Grant it, ACA (Affordable Care Act) is not in fact, affordable for a lot of families. Needless to say, changes need to be made when it comes to ACA. But, a complete repeal is just not fair. Before the bill was amended, it was a very good bill that with a few tweaks & growth, could have truly changed the face of healthcare in this country. But lucky us, Congress turned our health into a political tug of war. And now patients with chronic illnesses stand in fear of going back to either emergency room care and/or going broke just to stay alive. For me, I refuse to go back to the hell of not living with health insurance and being denied a basic right, as a hard working American. You’re reading this wondering, what can I do to make real change? Well, I have a few solutions and they all including advocating! Using your own voice to make change happen.
Dissect Affordable Care Act
Read the bill as it is in it’s current state. Then compare the original draft with the current amended draft. Download, print and highlight. Make notes. Create a list of Pros & Cons on how the ACA affects you and your family. Look at the bill through non-partisan eyes. This is the only way to really understand the bill without the noise of democratic & republican’s partisan noise. At the end of the day, their health insurance is AWESOME and their jobs are to govern and campaign all the time. Your job is to take care of your family. Take the party loyalty glasses off just for a second.
Identify Your Member of Congress
Even I don’t remember the number identification of my district. It’s just another thing I need to remember and I don’t have time for. But I do know who my congress person is. Take a moment to visit the House of Representatives & the Senate websites to identify who represent your district & state on the national stage. Once you identify them, get their contact information in Washington & locally. After that, visit Congress.gov & search for your representatives. Take a look at their voting record. Find out what committees they sit on. This way you have some information & an understanding of who they are. This will help you identify the Senators & Congress people voting against your best interest in Health, Education, etc. Highlighting those members of Congress who hardly vote at all, but are collecting a check from your tax dollars. Find out which members of Congress are apart of the Crohn’s & Colitis Caucus. How invested is your state & district in IBD related issues? Arm yourself with information.
Choose your form of Advocacy
There are plenty of ways to advocate. You can jump online and chit chat. You can attend local town hall meetings. Make trips to local congressional leaders offices or make the trek to Washington to advocate. But how? How do you get started? First, figure out how you want to use your voice! Do you want to speak directly to congress? Do you want to support those already lobbying on your behalf to congress? There are so many different ways, you first have to identify how you want to get it done. And to be honest, I will have to break down on a variety of posts on how to do all these, because even though it isn’t that complicated, it is absolutely detailed.
My point with all this is, I don’t want people to panic. There are so many aspects of our lives where we have no control and we feel helpless. I want you to know that there are so many ways you can be apart of protecting your health. I truly believe that we should focus our energy on the things we can control, and accept the things we cannot. Over the years we have watched Senators & Congress people bring IBD awareness to the legislative branch. Research dollars toward cures & medication related to IBD have risen. IBD related legislation has been pushed through Congress by leaders like Senator Harry Reid, Senator Chris Murphy, Senator Dianne Feinstein, Rep. Anders Crenshaw & Rep. Nita Lowry. We have made strides. But it’s because advocates in our community have not let up. We must continue to fight IBD on all fronts.