6 Years and Still Waiting for Health Care

Health Care for All: Not Really

ICAN members reflect on Anniversary of ACA

Tomorrow marks the 6th anniversary of the ACA, the American promise of health care for all. Yet, six years later 78,000 Idahoans struggle without health coverage. About 300 die each year because they have no access. Six people die each week in Idaho because they can’t afford to see a doctor. Over 5 years, that adds up to about 1,500 needless deaths. This is not a third world country. This is Idaho: our home.

ICAN members across the state are devastated by the Idaho Legislature’s failure to cover the uninsured – we’ve lost family members and loved ones, and more lives are at risk. On the day that should be remembered as the day we won health care for all, we only remember those who were left out, those who became trapped in the coverage gap.

Wendy Henry remembers her Uncle Richard who died at 67. “He had high blood pressure. If he could have gone to the doctor for a prescription that cost about $4, he would still be with us.”

Board member Miranda Davis lost her father, “He worked hard all his life to support his family, yet he never made enough for his own health insurance. The doctor who performed the autopsy said that my dad would be alive today, if he would have seen a doctor regularly.”

Member Justin Heitter lost his mother in January. Abby Heitter, 54, fell into the coverage gap, using the emergency room in crisis. Justin recalls, “I didn’t know my mom was that sick. She went to the hospital and within a couple of hours she learned her bowels had ruptured, she needed emergency surgery, she had late stage bowel cancer, and then she died. She died before I could even get there. We never even knew she was sick.”

Many, like Kathryn McNary of Caldwell, hold onto hope that a health care bill will pass, “Every year we don’t win I tell myself that I have to hold on one more year. It’s been 6 years now, I can’t wait another year.”

Or member Robin Evans of Grangeville, “Just my monthly prescriptions alone are more than we can afford on our budget. I have to pick and choose which medications I can afford.”

On this day Kathryn McNary, dresses in black, stands in silence at the Statehouse, just like every other day for the past week. She feels invisible in the back of the committee room awaiting her fate. Will it be another year? Will she make it another year? Will this be the day that she wins?

ICAN will continue to stand watch this week and pray the legislators will do the right thing and close the coverage gap.

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