by Ronnie Ross
Recently, Republicans, including my opponent, Senator Jill Vogel, tried to push a number of junk insurance plans through the General Assembly. These health plans appear inexpensive on the surface, but, in reality, provide very little coverage and very little in the way of financial protection. Luckily, Governor Northam vetoed these plans, and then Democrats were able to sustain his veto. Now, some of you may be thinking, what’s the big deal; why shouldn’t we offer those plans?
I am 32 years old and in excellent health. I played football in college, and after college I became a runner in order to lose the football weight. I was the kind of person who would go out on a Saturday morning and run 20 miles. Sure, I drank occasionally, but I didn’t smoke, and I certainly didn’t have any preexisting conditions. For the most part, I ate reasonably well, and my blood pressure was always somewhere around 120/80.
In other words, I was just the sort of person who would be likely to buy a junk insurance plan.
However, early last year I received some news that, if I had had the wrong insurance, would have bankrupted me. After having some problems with my voice, I went to the doctor thinking that my allergies must be causing the hoarseness. Unable to figure out what was wrong with me, I bounced around a number of doctors until a specialist was able to figure out the cause of my vocal degeneration.
Eventually, I was diagnosed with an exceedingly rare condition; we’re talking fewer than 20,000 active cases in the U.S. Left untreated, it would kill me. In order to treat it, I require periodic surgeries; there’s no other way to deal with the condition. Currently, there is no known cure, and I will have the disease until my body figures out a way to remove it, however long that might take.
Without my health insurance, I don’t know how my family would have survived the doctor and hospital bills. If I had had a junk insurance plan, I could very well have been left destitute. Because, here’s the thing: you’re healthy until, all of a sudden, you’re not. You think you’re indestructible until life taps you on the shoulder and hands you the unexpected.
And so, healthcare is personal to me. But, I know that we all have our healthcare stories. If I asked you to share a story of how healthcare access and affordability has affected your family, I bet that you wouldn’t have any trouble thinking of one. In fact, I would bet that that story kept you up at night and maybe even caused you to shed some tears as you wondered how you would pay for things that were necessary to keep you–or a loved one–alive.
I promise you that when you send me to Richmond I will fight like hell to expand access to healthcare and to protect the hard-won gains that we have made thus far. When I see representatives in the General Assembly voting against our healthcare interests, it upsets me. More than that, I wonder who they’re actually supposed to be representing…