Since late last summer when I started walking the 38th District and talking to people about what matters to them, health care has been a common thread. The constant threats to the Affordable Care Act, increased medical care costs, the rise in premiums and the out of pocket costs have many Illinois Valley residents in great distress!
I know. I've been there! In the 36 years that Stan and I have been married, our family has faced 16 major medical crises. It started with my husband being buried alive in a trench collapse at work and continued through his three back surgeries in 2016. Yes, they were able to repair the injuries he sustained that day in 1992 and get him back to work. But over time he has had one serious setback after another.
Then in 2004, our son was diagnosed with two serious medical conditions. For months we thought we were going to lose him. Thank goodness he has conditions that can be managed, but his medical costs for diagnosis and ongoing treatment went far over the amount our insurance company allotted us every year.
Many families are faced with the same dilemma: Do you provide the medical care that is needed no matter the cost, or do you only provide what you can afford? That is the painful question everyone who is chronically ill or has a chronically ill loved one faces every day.
In our case, we chose to go deeply into debt to provide everything we could for our son. Year after year, medical and ancillary debt stacked up. I took extra jobs stocking greeting cards and magazines, building furniture displays in stores, giving samples at the grocery and designing flowers at area flower shops all while working our farm and being a caregiver and Mom. We sold everything we could live without: Horses, saddles, training gear, my horse trailer, whatever would help pay the medical bills that just kept coming. Nothing was more important than taking care of my husband and my son – even the shame of debt could not stop me!
We went through some terrible times. But most importantly, my husband and our son survived! And despite our struggles, we were luckier than most people – we were finally able to pay off our debts. Now on the other side, I look back and think about how I can help others who are living through this kind of painful crisis.
We haven't always had this "for profit" health care system. Until President Nixon, healthcare was never offered for profit. Now look, I don't begrudge anyone their profit margins, their earnings, their lifestyles – unless they come directly from the suffering of others. I DO have a problem with that! I know how my family suffered and I have heard from you that your families have suffered too. ENOUGH! Your pain – our pain – shouldn't be big business for anyone!
Let's start by showing some compassion, and agree that we're all entitled to medical care as needed, without having to hold spaghetti suppers to pay our bills. (Ask any cancer patient, there aren't enough fundraisers in the world to cover the cost of chemotherapy!)
So how do we make this happen? By providing a Public Option so ALL Illinois residents can buy into the State’s health care system.
Will it be free? No. But it will have a controlled premium that, by pooling our money, will be lower than what most of us pay now. We also need to control co-pays, deductibles and have a maximum out of pocket cost to keep us from poverty due to illness.
Will it be “Universal Healthcare”? No, that is something that must be addressed on a federal level.
Will it mean our doctors won't be paid what he or she is worth? No! Medical professionals already negotiate their fees with insurance companies, and they would continue to do so.
Will it mean there will be long waits to see our doctors? No.
Would we be subjected to a “list” or review to see if we need care? No.
Will we get substandard care? No! It will be the same care my family and I will have when I am your Senator.
This is possible. But it will take years to plan and implement. We have a candidate for Governor in JB Priztker who knows how important this is to the health and well being of the people of Illinois! It’s not something we can wave a magic wand and create, but it is something well worth working for! You deserve it! Your families deserve it! WE CAN DO BETTER! And we will – when you send me to Springfield.