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Tom Scharpling
Tom Scharpling is a TV writer who has directed music videos for Aimee Mann, the New Pornographers, Ted Leo, and many others. He is the host of the radio program The Best Show On WFMU and a co-host of the Low Times podcast.

REASON 47: If Romney is elected, affordable healthcare reverts to an aspirational, unachievable goal for millions of Americans.

I spent most of my childhood growing up with a sick parent. Worrying whether your mother is going to live or die is absolutely horrible; it’s like having a gun pressed to the back of your head 24/7, never sure if and when it’s ever gonna go off. That fear creates enough pressure and anxiety to test the strongest of families, but that wasn’t the end of the suffering for us. Once the medical costs started adding up, my mother had her health insurance policy canceled. The reason? They determined she had a pre-existing condition.

Was it unfair? Absolutely – she didn’t have a pre-existing condition; she had an expensive condition! Could my parents have fought this legally? Yeah, I’m sure they could’ve, but they were both too busy holding down their full-time jobs, trying to fend off the mounting stacks of doctor bills while keeping food on the table for their kids. My parents worked hard and played by the rules, never asked for more than what they had earned and always took care of their business. And the insurance companies willfully declined to return the favor.

Over the last three-plus years I have had plenty of problems with Barack Obama’s decision-making. And I have problems with the Affordable Care Act. But it is good for people, especially its coverage of those diagnosed with pre-existing conditions. By 2014, insurance companies will no longer be able to deny coverage of anybody with a pre-existing condition (it’s already covering children under 19 years of age). And in a world where the tie increasingly goes to the corporation, Obama did something on the behalf of Actual People.

Yes, I know that people need to be responsible for their lives. You can’t spend your life eating Sonic fudge brownie blasts every night and expect the government to fix your body when it inevitably falls apart. And there will always be some people dead set on gaming any system. But we can’t deny the vast majority of people something as fundamental as health coverage so that we can be assured that a few bad apples don’t get more than they deserve.

When it comes to how the opposition handles the prospect of health care, Mitt Romney is locked into his version of Reagan’s “welfare queens” trope by moaning about the people who “believe they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it.” It’s a straight-up lie, and the worst part is that Romney knows better. He worked to give the people of Massachusetts health care, but now he believes that getting to sit in The Big Chair by any means necessary trumps falling short of the mark with your moral code intact.

And one thing that shouldn’t get lost in all of this is that INSURANCE COMPANIES ARE FUCKING HORRIBLE. Who doesn’t know someone who has had to fight for what was rightfully theirs simply because these corporations operate from a position of “deny deny deny,” subjecting THEIR OWN CUSTOMERS – people paying their premiums fair and square! – to machete their way through paperwork and appeals and reviews in the hope that a portion of their medical expenses will be taken care of.

Obama drew a line against these dirtbags. Romney has made it clear he plans to gut the Affordable Care Act and that you’ll be out of luck if your insurance company determines that your illness is a pre-existing condition. If Obama loses the election, health care reverts back to being an aspirational goal for millions of people. As someone who has felt the toll that a family pays when that door is slammed in your face, I can say that as a people we need to be better than this. It is beneath us as Americans to put others through this dehumanizing treatment, begging for medical coverage like it’s something they don’t deserve.

I know that the name “Obamacare” is thrown around as a pejorative, but I don’t see it that way. To me it says it all – Obama cares. And when did caring about people become a bad thing?

Tom Scharpling
 New Jersey

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