This morning the sun was shining on a really good day in America. After 100 years of trying, a comprehensive health care bill has finally been passed. Today President Obama signed HR 3590 into law.
With his signature, health care is no longer a privilege, but a right for all Americans. Oh, it’s not a perfect bill, none of them ever are, but it’s a starting point, which is more than we have ever had before. With a law in place changes can be made, improvements added, not just promises.
I’m not ashamed to say I cried when I saw vote #216 come up during the voting process Sunday night. I clapped my hands along with the Democrats in the House when the magic number appeared. I thought about all the jobs I had taken in the past, jobs where I was miserable, but needed so I could provide health care for my kids. I thought about my kids, now both adults, who will no longer have to worry about paying for exorbitantly high premiums because they have preexisting conditions – and who doesn’t-according to the insurance companies. I thought about how they will be allowed to choose a different company without consequences.
I thought about my three little granddaughters who won’t be penalized because they were born with a uterus and therefore considered a preexisting condition. I laughed and I cried because these little girls will never have to live without affordable health care. Someday they will listen in social studies or history class about how on March 21, 2010 an historic bill was passed giving people in America affordable health care, and they will wonder, why did it take so long?
When they read about the passage of this bill they will learn about the angst it created in our country for over a year, pitting friends and family members against each other. They will read about how it is compared to the Civil Rights Movement in its tenor and anger, with rallies and protests.
But more importantly they will read about the leaders who fought for this bill, knowing it might be their political future in the balance, and in the end, walked arm in arm through jeering protesters and vile slurs shouted at them, up the steps of the Capitol to pass this momentous bill.
In their history books, my granddaughters will read about what was said on both sides of the issue, but they most certainly will read these quotes:
“Today we are walking again, and we will be walking into history.” Rep. John Lewis (D-Georgia) who walked in a civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery Alabama forty-five years earlier and was beaten by police and attacked by their dogs.
“Health care is not only a civil right, it’s a moral issue.” Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.), son of the late Senator Edward Kennedy who had made health care for all his life’s work.
“This is the Civil Rights Act of the 21st Century.” Rep. James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.)
“After we pass this bill, being a woman will no longer be a preexisting condition!” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.)
“I can look people in the eye today and say, ‘As of now, as this law is implemented, never again will you lose your health insurance.’” Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.)
“This isn’t radical reform, but it is major reform. This is what change looks like.” President Obama.
I’m not ashamed to say I cried when the votes were tallied and HR 3590 passed Sunday night, because now I can finally afford health insurance for myself.
Cheri Cabot, Politics Correspondent
Cheri’s column, “Personal About Politics,” published every week, will reflect on how the life of a 60 year-old, middle class woman is affected by politics, policy and the current state of the nation – a look at the personal aspects of politics. Her column is part of Gather Essentials.
Cheri is a freelance writer, living in Southern California. She has two grown children and is the proud grandmother of three.
You can find all of Cheri’s columns on Personal About Politics at www.personalpolitics.gather.com, The Obama Watch at theobamawatch.gather.comor her home page here, www.ccabot.gather.com.