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What Health Care Policy Means to Moms

Monique Ruffin: Medicare Saved My Family

When my son was born with Down syndrome I was shocked by all the new concerns our family faced. Our hearts were happy and heavy at the same time. We were new parents to a beautiful baby boy whose future was uncertain. After spending the first week of his life in the neonatal unit of the hospital, we brought our son home to begin our journey of loving and supporting him as he grows into his greatest potential.

We quickly learned to take advantage of the support available from various state and federal agencies. Within weeks we were pointed to our local Regional Center, a federally and state funded organization designed to support children and families caring for people with special needs. By the time my son was 4 weeks old there was someone visiting my home weekly to assist me and teach me how I can support my son’s development. I was directed to an occupational therapist, a speech and communication therapist, a behavioral therapist, and an eating specialist to help me understand and overcome my son’s challenges. The center also offers classes for parents, including how to potty train children with special needs and how to teach special needs kids to read. The information and resources are invaluable and come at no cost to the families of the children.

My entire life revolves around my ability to receive the services and tools to support my son, who at 5 years old is thriving—largely because of the assistance and guidance of the Regional Center’s staff and services.

If the Romney/Ryan ticket wins this upcoming election and we suffer more cuts to the services that like those of the Regional Center and Medicare, what will happen to families like mine? The Ryan cuts—between 50 percent and 75 percent—to Medicaid would drastically decrease the federal dollars. These federal cuts would likely force the states to pick up the cost or drop nearly 19 million Medicaid recipients, including the very poor, seniors and pregnant mothers. Putting millions of families like mine, who are not able to absorb the high cost of medication and treatments, in dire straits. On the other hand, the Obama plan works with health care providers and hospitals to cut their cost. Obama’s plan also creates a health care mandate for all citizens bringing more people into the health care pool.

It was my family’s need for support and my connection with other families in far more severe conditions—like a single mother with four autistic children—that inspired me to start writing and getting involved in politics like health care reform. Unless you have a child or close family member with special needs, and have faced the onslaught of medical treatments and therapies he or she requires, you don’t understand how these programs help us stay afloat emotionally, mentally and physically.

My heart nearly jumps out of my chest when I consider what will likely happen to our babies if the Medicare proposals of the Romney/Ryan ticket are implemented. I am asking myself, "Are we are nation that wants to stand by as millions of children are denied access to services that not only create possibilities for them, but also actually save their lives?" It is in situations like this that government is needed to assure that all our citizens have access to services that their lives depend on. Such resources would otherwise go only to those with financial means. Is this who we are? I know firsthand of what President Clinton spoke of, but I also know firsthand the progress of a child whose life has an abundance of possibilities, created directly by the love and the care we receive from these life-saving social services.

Kira Davies: Why Obamacare Leaves Me Cold

I grew up in Canada under a publicly funded socialized health care system, so when I heard that President Obama planned to craft a bill that would put America on the road to a system that is funded from a single insurance source and run by the state, my heart dropped. “Free” health care sounds amazing until you've actually had to live under it.

When I was 8 years old, I came down with pnuemonia over the winter holidays. After a harrowing trip to the hospital as I was throwing up blood, we were told I could not be admitted because there were no beds. Under government health care, every hospital is a government hospital. There is no alternative—no one you can pay extra money to for treatment.

My mother was devastated, as the doctor told her there was nothing he could do but send her home with a prescription, tell her to keep me comfortable and call an ambulance if I stopped breathing during the night. Obviously, I survived.

My mother, who is now a senior, is still suffering the woes of a government-run system. She has been navigating Canada Health for years trying to get a mystery illness diagnosed. Each new specialist was a four-to-24 month wait. MRI? 22 months. After 12 years she was finally able to get a doctor to sign off on a disability claim, which in turn needed a year to process through the system.

Under Canada Health, care is rationed according to a formula that takes into account one's age and “quality of life." Naturally, as a senior my mother doesn't mathematically “win” that formula. Already Canadians are looking for alternatives to this unsustainable dream.

Should we trust government in the United States to handle our health care? I moved to the States and now live with my family in Southern California. I think of my own mother, who is still awaiting a proper diagnosis under the Canadian system, and I think the answer to that must be "No."

As a stay-at-home mother of two young children, I don't want the government anywhere near the health care decisions I make for them. The rising cost of the insurance plan my husband's work blessedly provides strains our budget to the max. We are a single income household, and rising costs anywhere really effect us. But the thought of a time when my own babies may experience the same lack of adequate care I did growing up is absolutely frightening.

Has your health care become more affordable in the last year? Mine hasn't. My copays have risen 40 percent per year for the last two years. So much for the "affordable" part of the Affordable Health Care Act.

I agree that our current system could use some type of reform, but I think there's a better way to improve what is already the best health care system in the world than single-payer medicine. Take it from someone who knows.

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