Thursday, January 12, 2017

My letter to Rep. Pallone

Dear Rep. Pallone
            I am a 33 year old man with Pulmonary Atresia with Ventricular Septal Defect. I am one of the first people to survive this condition passed age 3 or so. In fact, I’ve been told it is the audio of my heart that medical students listen to in order to know what we sound like.
            I am writing this to you as a letter of encouragement, please continue to stand for the 57 million Americans with pre-existing conditions and all those who need good laws in order to have good healthcare.
            I’ve been blessed, I was covered under good insurance as a kid, because my mom worked for the Department of Defense, the VA, and NATO and they made sure my pre-existing condition was covered. Now days, I am a Lutheran Pastor and I have insurance through the Church, I’m happy with it, and because it is a national plan connected with a national Church, it will follow me from congregation to congregation. But, I know not everyone with a pre-existing condition can be a Lutheran Pastor.
            On top of that, there was a period of time during seminary, before the ACA was passed, when I was covered by inferior insurance. I’d been told, when purchasing the insurance, that my heart condition was covered (they wanted to sell me the policy, right?), but when I went for my every-other-year heart check-up I received a $10,000 bill, nothing covered because everything to do with my heart was “pre-existing.” $10,000 was 80% of my income that year (I was a Vicar at an inner-city church in Baltimore). I had to plead poverty once I found out my insurance company would not cover it.
            It is a painful and embarrassing thing to skip out of paying what you owe. Everyone in the hospital was gracious once it was clear what had happened and that I wasn’t trying to pull one over on anyone, so it sort of worked out that time.
            But, these days, I only pay 10% of my income for health insurance as Pastor of St. Stephen here in New Jersey, because I have good insurance. I am happy to pay my fair share, and so glad that no one discriminates against me based on this condition I was born with.
            I have to admit, I am deeply afraid for my fellow pre-existing condition folk, that this protection will be taken away if the ACA is repealed. I hear Trump’s point person plans to replace the ACA with a non-taxable savings account and the ability to transfer insurance across state lines. Neither of these will do anything for the 57 million of us with pre-existing conditions. Maybe it is just my Lutheran sense of Sin with a capital S, but I am damn sure if companies are given back the right to discriminate, they will.
            Please understand me, I want to pay my fair share. I want to do right by my doctors who keep me alive. The ACA gives folk the possibility to do that—the alternative doesn’t.
            Again, thank you so much for fighting for me and the 57 million.
Chris Halverson

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